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I often see the fear in women's faces as they listen to my suggestion that they try a heavier weight to keep challenging their bodies. The hesitation to "up the weights" comes from many myths we have heard over and over again.

One of the most common myths is that women will bulk up or look masculine if they lift heavy weights. But women have much lower testosterone levels than men, making the possibility of growing large amounts of muscle unlikely. Monitoring calorie intake in your diet and doing cardiovascular activity daily should also alleviate this worry. With strength training, the body's metabolism is fired up and lean muscle mass is increased. This gives the lean, tight body you desire.

Another myth is that muscle can turn into fat if you stop training. But muscle cannot "change" into fat. What occurs with lack of use, is that muscle cells atrophy (shrink in size) causing your excess food energy that is not burned to be stored as fat. The bonus of strength training is that more calories are burned as muscle strength grows.

Noticing a weight gain with strength training is also misunderstood. You may not lose weight and the scale may even go up a bit, but your body will feel more compact and your clothes will feel different. Staying off the scale and noticing the change in the shape and tightness in your body is a much better gauge.

Men and women are in the gym with various goals. Both want to be strong, improve health and athleticism. Know what your goal is and go after it.

Not convinced yet? There are numerous benefits to women building strength. Personal development that builds strength will be noticed in ALL areas of life. Strong muscles also can prevent injury in your everyday activities. At the end of a workout, imagine feeling emotionally empowered, standing taller and ready to accomplish your goals. This is a huge plus!

Shelley Rubinstein,

PBNSG Fitness Director

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