Ladies - No Gymnasium Or Health Club Required

Whilst giving a talk to female students, I was asked if yoga was as effective as strength training sessions, in toning/ shaping for summer.

Perhaps; if you've never done any strength training and your particular yoga is challenging enough to make your muscles feel worked as you hold the asanas/ poses. For beginners, Pilates and Yoga have some effective toning tools, and novice exercisers do improve their strength, but as you get stronger, you'll reach a point where to progress, your muscles definitely need harder work. The best way forward is with sensibly designed and biomechanically suitable resistance/weight training.

The impeccably sound safety principle 'It's not about lifting weight; it's about training your muscles' signifies that with intelligent exercise prescription, moderate weights is all you'll ever need. If you also remember that the person who originally coined the phrase, 'No pain, no gain' should have immediately been hung from the nearest tree, you'll go forward using smartly accurate and safe principles!

To get shapely and fit, building muscle tissue is absolutely essential and this doesn't mean becoming masculine in appearance. Typically, declining hormone and activity levels means a woman starts losing about half a pound of muscle per year during pre-menopausal years. That loss can leap to a pound a year, once she actually reaches menopause, but it's physiologically possible for a woman to increase her strength by up to 40% without any significantly visible increase in bodily size, known as hypertrophy.

Muscle tissue burns approximately 18 times as many calories as fat, even when you're not exercising; so as your muscle mass diminishes, your metabolism (i.e. your body's calorie-burning ability) drops. Doing nothing to stem this loss, means waking up on your 60th birthday to discover that you may well have lost up to half of your muscle, and replaced it with twice as much fat!

Without doubt at any age, intelligently applied strength training can help turn that tide through elevating levels of human growth hormone and replacing lost muscle. Those rewards arrive surprisingly quickly. A woman who exercises all her major muscle groups twice a week can expect to replace 5 to 10 years' worth of metabolism-revving muscle in just a few months.

However, lets establish one fact very clearly here and that is ... you certainly don't at any stage, need to go anywhere near a gymnasium or health club to do this and that's a simple clinical reality, despite numerous declarations trumpeting very loudly from all directions, that it's the best way!

Using a set of light- moderate dumbbells and modest ankle weights (whilst applying carefully calculated Exercise Biomechanics that are specifically suitable for you) all your muscles can be worked very safely and effectively at home. Machines are fine, but humans were fit and healthy through moving weights around hundreds of years before health clubs and machines ever existed. Under validly expert guidance, right in your own home, results that would truly delight you are possible.

Strength training 2-3 times in a 7 day period brings good results. However, I do stress very strongly indeed here, that for the best and safest way forward, it needs to be after a full-body biomechanical range of motion test has been conducted beforehand to discover what you're best suited to physically, or significant problems are more possible in the future. Feelings of wellbeing are then quickly enhanced, energy levels go up and aesthetic 'adjustments' start occurring in your appearance. All achieved in the privacy of your home, without driving to and from a club, being deafened by loud music or surrounded by numerous sweating individuals!

Biomechanist Alan Gordon. MSc. BSc. (Hons 1st)

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