Author: Linda Stephens

There are two misconceptions that I experience as a personal trainer. The first one is that most women feel they need to do cardio for countless hours day in and day out in order to stay “long and lean”. The other misconception that’s expressed to me by many women is that they don’t want to lift heavy weights for fear of becoming bulky and “too big”. I’d like to address the later first if I may. As women, we just don’t have the amounts of testosterone it would take to build a huge bulky shape. Also, you would have to lift heavily for months even years in order to build some serious muscle mass. It doesn’t happen overnight so lets just throw that fear right out the window. You can curl or press the 5 or 8lb dumbbells for 100 repetitions but that’s not really going to do much of anything. If you’re not going to challenge your muscles they will never grow. If you don’t build muscle then your body will never really look any different. I’m sure most reading this have heard the term “skinny fat”. You can run your little heart out on the treadmill but if you don’t stress your muscles they will never develop shape. Your physique will be thin but your skin will be lacking muscle definition and tone. Your body is smart and it will adapt to whatever stresses you put on it. By changing your exercise routine every three or four weeks, you will keep your body in a constant state of muscle confusion, meaning it will not have enough time to completely adapt to your training regimen. You’ll need to continually increase the weight with each set of about 10-12 repetitions. If you’re doing the first set with 10lb dumbbells and it feels light then increase to 15lbs on your next set. Strive to get your 10-12 reps and if you can increase the weight with your third set then do so. Always think in terms of adding more weight, challenging your muscles and forcing them to grow. The more lean muscle mass you can build the more efficient your body will be at burning calories even at rest. You’ll probably find that you’re hungrier and you’ll need to give your body more high quality fuel to burn.

As far as cardiovascular exercise is concerned it is important and certainly does have its place within your workout program. Cardiovascular exercise keeps your heart and lungs strong. It can provide that high by releasing positive endorphins and just give you an overall good feeling. A hard weight workout can also provide the same results. My only concern is that many think they need to do countless hours of cardio exercise. The truth is that it just becomes counterproductive to building and maintaining lean muscle. Personally, I have days when I’ll do a high level on an elliptical for about thirty minutes and other days, usually twice a week when I’ll do sprints on a bike, elliptical or treadmill. By sprints I mean you go all out for thirty seconds and then recover for a minute. I’ll repeat that sequence about ten times which works out to twenty minutes or so. Doing sprints gives your metabolism a huge kick in the pants, which in turn allows you to burn more energy (calories).

To sum all this up, women need to be lifting heavy weight in order to have shapely figures, defined arms, strong bones and joints which is imperative as we age along with a feeling of confidence that spills over into every avenue of your life. It’s would be my pleasure to assist you in the gym or with your diet. Feel free to contact me at Be well!

Linda Stephens

Certified by National Association of Sports Medicine
NPC National Figure Competitor
Masters of Clinical Nutrition, University of Bridgeport (Expected graduation Spring 2013)
Scivation Representative

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