ViQuest Vitals

Published 12:00 am Monday, November 19, 2007

Most professionals in the health and fitness industry will agree a common concern among women who strength train is their fear of bulking up.

Women are concerned that when they begin strength training, they will build muscle mass and appear larger.

Believe it or not, this myth often keeps women from taking the first step to becoming stronger, toned and self-confident. The benefits of strength training for women far outweigh any negatives.

First of all, muscle size and shape are primarily determined genetically. Obviously, women can still achieve goals of becoming stronger, more toned, or even adding mass to your muscles n but for some, it simply means they may have to work harder than others if their body type is not genetically pre-conditioned for this desired trait.

Genetically, everyone has two types of muscle fibers; slow and fast twitch. Slow twitch muscle fibers are used mainly with cardio/endurance training. Fast twitch fibers respond most favorably to high-intensity strength training; training that involves heavier resistance and lower repetitions.

To decrease muscle mass, but stay in shape, women should strength train twice a week, and the routine should consist of less resistance with more repetitions.

A typical workout should consist of one to three sets of 12 to 15 repetitions for each major muscle group.

This type of “high repetition” training decreases the fast-twitch muscle fibers being recruited which decreases the likelihood for muscle growth.

Training with a high repetition and low resistance regimen, the muscle will appear more toned and defined without the mass or growth of the muscle tissue.

On a side note, strength train major muscle groups before smaller muscles if training both on the same day.

For example: work chest, back, abdominal or legs before training shoulders, biceps or triceps.

This keeps smaller muscle groups from fatiguing the larger ones; thereby, getting the maximal gains possible from the larger muscles.

Finally, all women should begin a strength training program NOW.

We all need to gain muscular endurance and strength, improve out self-confidence, and appear toned and healthy.

Don’t forget: strength training also assists with calorie burning to aid in overall weight loss.

Russell Allen is the Coordinator of Member Services at ViQuest. He can be reached with

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