Should Women Lift Heavy Weights?

By Russell Laurie

Many women avoid strength training because they’re afraid it will give them massive, Schwarzenegger-sized muscles.  But while strength training can initially increase your overall weight (muscle is heavier than fat), it certainly won’t cause you to look bulky, and will make women look smaller, firmer and toned.

Women simply do not have enough testosterone, a key hormone that allow for increased muscle mass. In fact, women have ten to thirty times less of the essential hormones than their male counterparts. Unlike most men, women who seek to gain muscle mass certainly do not have an easy time accomplishing this goal.  Most female strength athletes with large muscular physiques are only able to achieve this from an extremely vigorous and specialised workout plan over a long period of time and are often taking muscle-building drugs, such as anabolic steroids or growth hormones.  Weight training alone will not build large muscles in most women, and the ordinary exercisers definitely won’t get anywhere close to being able to.

As your lean muscle increases, so does your resting metabolism, and you burn more calories all day long. Generally speaking, for each 1-2kg of muscle you gain, you burn 70 to 100 more calories each day, which translates into 3000 additional calories per month which would ultimately result in a weight loss of 4.5-5kg in a single year doing nothing more than increasing your muscle mass by 1-2kg.

Some more reasons why every woman should add strength training to her workout regimen:
• To preserve bone mass and decrease the risk of osteoporosis
• To reduce blood pressure
• To improve your athletic performance
• To create strong tendons and ligaments
• To lower the risk factors for various diseases
• To reduce your risk of injury, back pain and arthritis
• To boost resting metabolism (the amount of calories your body burns when it’s not doing anything), and fight the creeping weight gain of advancing age

Although the average woman won’t lift the same load as the average man, all the general strength training principles apply equally to both sexes. That means that to get the benefits of strength training, you need to do it often enough (two or three times a week), and with the right weights (keeping the weights heavier enough that you can only perform between six to twelve repetitions per set).

So, should YOU Strength Train? 

If you want to lose weight, burn more fat, look and feel stronger and have stronger bones, then ABSOLUTELY!


Hydration and it’s effects on your body.

We all want to perform our best during a sporting event. Our bodies’ fluid levels are extremely important in allowing us to perform at an optimal level; the slightest amount of dehydration (minimum 2% of your body mass), can affect your performance significantly.

Dehydration can have a negative effect on the body’s endurance exercise ability; fatigue can set in and your performance ability is diminished. You may also experience symptoms such as reduced mental and motor functioning, and abdominal distress (nausea, vomiting and gastric cramping).

So to avoid dehydration during a sporting event you need to ensure you are consuming the right product to complement your training. Water is the most accessible and inexpensive fluid that is needed to rehydrate your body.  However, some people don’t like the taste of plain water and it lacks nutrients such as carbohydrates and electrolytes (which are lost during exercise). Fruit juices are also a good option to drink to rehydrate as they contain carbohydrates to replenish the diminished muscle glycogen levels. They should be consumed at a 5% concentration and opt for less acidic juices to avoid stomach upset. There are other alternatives, such as over the counter sports drinks (Powerade or Gatorade), or professional hydration fluids (found in health food stores). Both options are generally well balanced with nutrients, ideal for prolonged exercise, and have a variety of flavours. They can be expensive, however, and may be difficult to obtain.  It is also important to remember to consume these drinks cold, not at room temperature. This is due to the fact that numerous studies have found that the nutrients are absorbed faster and therefore rehydration and performance improves more quickly.

There are drinks to avoid during exercise or sporting events. These include caffeinated drinks (coffee, tea, cola, chocolate drinks & Guarana drinks), fluids with tannins (red wine & green and black tea), sodium drinks (fizzy drinks), and alcohol. This is because most of these types of drinks will dehydrate your body further, have a diuretic effect on the body, and impair your body’s performance.

An overview for ensuring adequate hydration before a sporting event could be as follows: the night before, begin drinking fluids (around 200ml) every 30 minutes. Continue this on the day of the event up until 20 minutes before the event (this is because it takes roughly 20 minutes for the stomach to empty). During the event you should consume anywhere from 800mls to 2100mls per hour (sipping only); however, this will depend on the duration of the sport and the intensity required. After the event you need to start refueling with carbohydrates (drinks and foods) and complete hydration can take up to 12 hours.

These are all important points to remember when exercising/training for a sporting event, and how without the correct hydrating techniques your body may not perform at its best.



Alkaline Diets – The Many Benefits They Provide

Michela DiTocco
You may not have heard of this up-and-coming craze but let’s explore the alkaline diet. It’s not only a great way to control your weight, but will also help you lead a healthier lifestyle. The foods are divided into two groups, either being acid or alkaline based. It is believed that a healthy alkaline diet is composed of 20% of acid-forming foods and 80% of alkaline-forming foods.
Foods that generally produce an alkaline residue include citrus fruits and other low sugar fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes. This is what a majority of western diets lack these days and is potentially why our bodies are out of balance. Foods to avoid include grains, dairy, meat, sugar, caffeine, alcohol and fungi. (A more extensive list can be found at http://www.energiseforlife.com/list_of_alkaline_foods.php ).
Our blood has a pH level around 7.3-7.4, which is slightly alkaline; therefore our dietary intake should reflect this. This level is important as the body is able to function and absorb minerals at an optimal level. In today’s society as our diet replicates an acid-producing diet, our body attempts to restore this balance. Therefore the main reason for partaking in the alkaline diet is to restore the body’s acid-base homeostasis (balance), and to avoid any associated diseases/health issues common to metabolic acidosis. Diets high in acid-producing foods tend to disrupt the pH levels in the blood, causing the body to use stored essential minerals such as potassium, calcium, magnesium and sodium to rebalance our pH levels and depleting these mineral stores and leading to other possible heaAlkaline Diet Chartlth issues. It has been stated that the lower your blood pH levels (more acidic), the more prone you are to storing fat, increasing your weight.
This diet is recommended for people who feel tired or lack energy, have a lot of stress in their lives, suffer from viral infections, frequent colds and flu, nasal congestions, digestion problems, headaches, anxiety, ovarian cysts, and muscle and joint pains and spasms. Some common health benefits associated to an alkaline diet include: an increase in energy levels, an increase in bone mass (more predominantly in the older population), prevention of osteoporosis, arthritis, age-related muscle wasting and the formation of calcium kidney stones.
Overall there are many people who can benefit from the alkaline diet and there is much research and many cook books dedicated to this topic. If you have any medical or health concerns, consult your doctor before beginning such a program. It’s completely natural and there are no added supplements or products to buy, so why not try an alkaline diet today and see the benefits it can give you.



Vitamin D

Revolution Personal TrainingVitamin D plays an important role in the absorption of calcium as well as bone growth and remodeling. It also plays a part in regulating the functions of the immune system as well as reducing inflammation. Vitamin D is not naturally present in many food because it is predominately produced in the body as a result of exposure to direct sunlight. However vitamin D levels can be supported by dietary intake, especially in people who do not have high levels of exposure to sunlight. Food such as cod liver oil, fish, milk and egg are good sources of vitamin d. It is recommended that production of vitamin D is primarily resulting from contact with sunlight however an intake of up to 10*g may be required for those who are house ridden or receive very little sunlight this can be obtained from 2/3 cup cod liver oil, 180g salmon or 8 cups of milk.


Vitamin E

Vitamin E has many important functions in the body.  It acts as an anti-oxidant preventing free radicals from damaging healthy cells, as well as assisting immune function and cell signaling.  The recommended dietary intake for vitamin E is at least 10mg per day.  The best sources of vitamin E include vegetable oils and margarine as well as whole grains, seeds, nuts, wheat germ and green leafy vegetables although processing these types of foods can detract from the nutrient quality and composition.  So as always pick foods with as little human interference as possible!  A deficiancy in vitamin E is usually only a result of fat absorption disorders but adequate intake is important to help regulate free radical activity.


Vitamin K

Vitamin K has an important role in the body, it is involved in keeping your bones healthy and helping to form blood clots. While generally when you hear of blood clots you think of the negative aspect, they are also an important part of the bodies healing process. When you cut or graze yourself, blood clots form to seal the wound and prevent further blood loss. This is where Vitamin K is important. Without adequate intake, people can experience excessive blood loss when a wound is opened. However deficiency of this vitamin is very rare and usually only occurs in people who have intestinal absorption disorders or who have been using antibiotics for lengthy periods of time. A well balanced diet will usually supply the body with an adequate intake of vitamin K which can be found in green vegetables such as spinach, broccoli and cauliflower.