Strong is the New Skinny

Strong is the new skinny.  I’ve embraced it.  I’m too tall and come from too many broad shouldered people for skinny to be an ideal of mine.  A former cardiophile, I’ve completed the transition to strength training.  I still enjoy cardio because endorphins.  But I get those from lifting too so cardio has been downsized in favor of Body Pump.

bodypumpWomen should lift weights. We are more prone to bone and joint issues, and we have less muscle to start with.  Muscle mass determines resting metabolic rate; more muscle means more energy and more calories burned.  Weight lifting almost exclusively burns fat.  Also, weight lifting leads to strength and success and growth in confidence.

Find a strength training class or videos. Begin where you are and work toward a goal.

I have fallen under the spell of Body Pump for the following reasons.

  • Every muscle group gets worked in an hour: warm up, large leg muscles, chest, back, triceps, biceps, intrinsic leg muscles, shoulders, and abs.
  • You’re not going to bulk up because you are using light to moderate weights and LOTS of repetitions (typically 800-1000 per class). The rep effect, which is Body Pump’s focus, exhausts muscles and builds strength without bulk.
  • Time under tension. TUT refers to how a muscle is under strain. In other words, sometimes you’re going lift slowly, in four counts instead of one.  Then you will lower just as slowly, putting tension on your muscles to hold the count.
  • Muscle confusion. Obviously you can’t really confuse an inanimate object like your muscles but you can stress them in different ways to give them more chances to adapt.  The more wide-ranging the more likely to have positive results.  During a triceps set you may do triceps dips, overhead lifts, triceps push ups, or triceps lifts while lying on the bench.  Your muscles don’t have the chance to get into a groove.
  • Posterior chain.In Body Pump, you work your posterior chain, the area between your lower back and your hamstrings.  This posterior chain is important because it stabilizes you and contains the powerful gluteus maximus.  That powerful puppy is important in stabilization, support, and posture.  It is also one large muscle and keeping it strong means you burn a whole bunch of calories. In Body Pump, you’ll get to do power press usually accompanied by a triple row – and your posterior chain will thank you.
  • Women dominate my Body Pump classes. Young, old, short, tall, pregnant, and menopausal.  There’s lots of camaraderie and encouragement. They work hard. They smile. They change their lives. There are men too. Fewer of them but enough to notice the differences in the sexes.  Most men breeze through the triceps and biceps. Men have difficulty with lunges. Many have a hard time making it through a set, much like I have a hard time making it through a triceps set.  But I am a squat machine. Women excel at lunges.  Men are good at push-ups.
  • You learn great words in Body Pump: dead rows, deadlifts, clean and press, muscle isolation, squats, pulses, mid-range pulses, power presses, eccentric lifts, etc.
  • Improved self-esteem. Whether it is from the physi
  • Right up there with improved self-esteem is those exquisitely beautiful chemicals called endorphins. Not sure why everyone is not clamoring for them. I’ve been a fan since my first runners high. Just those serene feeling of warmth, love for mankind, and low-grade fatigue. A great strength training workout pumps those endorphins.  Yes, please!


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