I am always looking for weight-lifting tips for women. I was really excited to see strength-training tips for women in US News and World Report's interview with Alwyn Cosgrove, one of the authors of The New Rules of Lifting For Women ($17.13). Here are highlights:
- Don't waste your time doing exercises that only work your smaller muscles. Machines that isolate the calf, biceps, and triceps muscles aren't doing much good. Doing exercises like presses, rows, and pulldowns lets those little muscles work the way they're supposed to: in concert with the bigger ones.
- Toss the standard back-on-the-floor crunches. Straining against the hard ground isn't doing your spine any favors, and you aren't working the full range of your abdominal muscles. Instead, Cosgrove recommends other ab exercises, including crunches on an inflatable ball (which are cushier on your back and let you reach the full range of motion) and a deceptively innocent-sounding move called a plank, where you hold your body straight in a modified push-up position, propping yourself on toes and forearms.
- One-size "proper form" does not always fit all. You don't want to be so caught up with the so-called rules of an exercise ("Don't lock your elbows!" "Don't let your knee move past your toes!") that you are petrified to even start. Everyone's body is different. So if your basic technique is correct, and you aren't experiencing pain during or after a workout, you're probably OK, he says.
- Don't worry — you aren't going to get huge. It's not easy even for men to get so they look like those folks on the cover of Muscle & Fitness magazine. For women, because of our lower levels of testosterone, it's definitely not going to happen, unless you have some off-the-charts genetic propensity to pile on muscle and are spending your entire day working out.
Be sure to check out the first four strength-training tips if you missed them earlier this week.