Why I Started Lifting Weights

In the next few days I will do all of my measurements from my first month of Les Mills PUMP.  Since this Beachbody Program just came out at the end of 2011, I consider myself one of the pioneers of this program!  I belong to a group of people on Facebook who are all going through the program at the same time and it is universally loved because it is a challenge, but the moves are simple.

I have always been a cardio junkie.  I remember doing Jane Fonda when I was 15 years old and loved to track my heartrate.  Then I moved to Step Aerobics (Cher Fitness - holla!) and then to Tae Bo and finally have worked my way through Beachbody programs.  My challenge is never exercise - it's nutrition - so combining nutrition, cardio, and now some serious weight training this month has brought about some major changes.  It's the triple-threat!

There are 5 big exercise and weightlifting myths that the Les Mills PUMP manual goes over that I wanted to share with all of my female friends out there who feared the weights the way I did.

Myth:  To lose weight fast, you need to diet and do a lot of aerobic exercise.
Fact:  Traditional aerobic training (including treadmills) only burns fat, but if you combine it with weight training, you get a double whammy effect.  You shed both fat and develop lean muscles at the same time, so you shape and tone faster.  Included in that, once you stop your cardio workout, unless you are doing interval training, you stop burning calories at the higher metabolic rate.  If you are lifting weights, your muscle burns additional fat for up to 48 hours AFTER you finish working out, which is why you should only do it every other day.  

Myth: The best way to burn a lot of fat and calories is through cardio workouts.
Fact:  Like I said above, it is true that cardio exercise burns a lot of calories, but you stop burning when the workout is over.  Where weightlifting and Les Mills PUMP in particular is different, is that you keep burning calories long after your workout is finished.  I like the PUMP workouts because they work all of your large muscle groups, which are the major fat burning muscles.

Myth:  Women get bulky if they lift weights.
Fact:  If you want to get big, you have to lift big and eat big, using low reps and very heavy weights.  Les Mills PUMP doesn't use big weight loads.  It relies on The Rep Effect (trademarked), which is based on high repetition with low weights to maximize strength without overbuilding muscles.  Muscle is critical in helping boost the metabolism to maximize fat loss.  The vast majority of women don't have enough testosterone to get big muscles.  Rachael Newsham is a Les Mills PUMP Instructor and she certainly isn't bulky!
In this picture, Rachael is using the barbell (5 lbs) with two 5lb weights on each side.  Bestie and I want to look like Rachael someday.

Myth: Gym machines are better for strength training than free weights or barbells.
Fact:  As far as performance goes, machines simply isolate the muscle, so you are not getting any combined synergy from all of the effort.  When you use barbell weights, as you do with Les Mills PUMP (it comes with the program when you buy it with two 5lb weights and two 10lb weights), you use all of your body's muscles to stabilize - so you are exercising not just the muscle that is lifting the weight, but the surrounding muscles, as well as your core and abs.  Les Mills PUMP is designed to get you using more muscles at once - which means a quicker path to results.  

Myth:  Women and men need to train differently.
Fact:  After 30 days of Les Mills PUMP, this could not be further from the truth for me.  I am doing this program and so is my husband.  We are both building lean muscle (we compare biceps) as we do the same workout.  Women can do Les Mills PUMP to reshape and sculpt their bodies, and men can use Les Mills PUMP to build a strong, athletic, muscular look.  They have different levels of hormones that are responsible for the muscle growth.  The basics of weight training such as squats, lunges, curls and dead lifts are some of the best exercises - for everyone!  

Most women really don't know the best way to weight train.  I would HIGHLY recommend this program if you are trying to lose weight.  My plan is to keep doing it throughout 2012 - combining it with my favorite cardio routines.  My husband just walks on his days off because that is what he loves to do.  I am excited to see how much my body changes over the next year.  I am also VERY grateful that this program was created!