Whoever thought that weight training is a man thing is totally wrong, because now even women are stealing the spotlight with amazing results in weight training. Muscle toning workouts through weights not only improve your muscle mass composition, but also give your body a chiselled and confident look!
Weight training is something that doesn’t show overnight results. It’s a time tested combination of diet, workout and a balanced body metabolism. A whole lot of effort is needed to observe the subtle changes in the muscles, the body frame and overall body dynamics. Weight training for toning helps you lose calories, and prevents diabetes, back pain and also cuts those extra inches on your abs, thighs and arms. All in all, it stimulates the body’s metabolic process.
We often get awestruck by the perfectly sculpted body of celebrity icons who move around with flawless ease, teeming with oodles of confidence. And no doubt we all want to take a leaf from their lives, craving for similar body and lifestyle.
Unlike any other fitness regime, weight training is something purely sensitive, as it’s concerned with lifting weights which could be heavy. Before starting off, we must always ensure that we bear a lot of caution instead of jumping into illogical and impulsive weight training sessions. Don’t gasp over the flashy ads and attractive models donning hefty weights in tabloids, they might look attractive but may not be real.
For proper muscle toning workouts, you need a lot of dedication and concentration on the specific problem areas which need to get toned. However, given the natural biological framework, male and female body toning exercises differ from each other.
Weight Training 101
Weight training is a specialised kind of strength training that uses weights for resistance. Weight training provides a stress to the muscles, which adapts them to get stronger, much in the way aerobic conditioning strengthens your heart.
In order to strengthen your muscles, they need resistance. You need to train your muscles to do activities, which require more endurance and resilience compared to normal everyday activities. When you provide resistance to your muscles, they contract. This contraction is what builds strength and increases anaerobic endurance. This will then help increase the size of your skeletal muscles.
Weight training can be performed with free weights, such as barbells, dumbbells, arm blasters, tricep bars and benches or by simply using weight machines. You can also increase your strength through other types of resistance exercises, such as by using your body weight or resistance bands.
The best part about toning weight lifting workouts is that, you don’t have to spend an hour or two to achieve your target. Even a few minutes of muscle toning workouts can prove to be effective. Moreover, you don’t need to sign up for expensive gym memberships to start your weight training program, you can even perform these workout sessions from the comfort of your home.
Weight Training Equipment
Let’s take a look at the different weight training equipment, which can be used at home or at the gym.
Using dumbbells is a fairly inexpensive way of weight lifting. There are two types of dumbbells; fixed weight and adjustable weight.
If you’re using fixed dumbbells, be sure to use several different weight sizes so that you can alter the resistance to weight training.
While you won’t get as high of a resistance as in weight lifting, dumbbells are a good way to tone muscles. They are easier to store at home, so that they can be used frequently.
Barbells are long, straight metal bars with hinges on both the ends to hold weight plates. The two types of barbells are standard and Olympic. Normally, Olympic barbells can hold more weights than standard barbells. Olympic barbells can hold up to 800 lbs. of weights, whereas standard barbells can hold up to 200 lbs. of weights. Barbells are normally used by professional weightlifters who perform at competitive games events.
3. EZ Curl Bar
The EZ curl bar is designed for working on the biceps and triceps. It is a shorter than a barbell and has curved hand placements. This is good for working on the muscles from different angles and reducing the stress that a straight barbell can place on the wrists.
4. Tricep Bar
This is an oval shaped bar that has two parallel hand placements. Even though it is called a tricep bar, you can use it to work other body parts besides the triceps.
The most common piece of equipment in any gym is the bench. There are three types of benches – flat, incline, and decline. Some benches are adjustable (they can be adjusted to be either flat, incline, or decline). Some benches have racks on one end for holding a barbell, while other benches do not have any racks. The benches that do not have any racks are generally used for dumbbell exercises.
Machines allow you to perform a wide variety of exercises. Some machines are designed to work individual muscles, while other machines consist of a multi-station that works the whole body. Most home gym machines are multi-station machines because they are much cheaper and take up less space than having different machines for each muscle group.
- Lat Pull Machine:
This machine pulls weights from top to bottom with handles on either side. The number of weights are suspended in a pulley in the front and can be gradually increased to boost resistance and strength.
- Abduction Machine:
This machine works the inner thighs (adduction) and the outer thighs (abduction). Some gyms have two separate machines for adduction and abduction, while other gyms will have both exercises combined into one machine.
- Leg Extension Machine:
This machine is excellent for isolating the quadricep muscles. Many people like to use this exercise for burning their quadriceps and warming up the knee joints before moving on to squats or leg presses.
- Hack Squat Thighs:
This is a good variation of the traditional barbell squat. This is good for developing the outer sweep of the thighs.
Weight Training Gender Wise
Now it’s a foregone conclusion that weight training is beneficial for both the genders, but there is a difference in the way toning weight lifting workouts is managed for men and women. While men seem to follow weight training workouts to propel bigger tasks and increase strength, women use weight training for toning muscles and a more shapely body.
Generally men tend to build more “muscle mass” as compared to women, but the truth is that both men and women require equal weight training frequency to call for fitness. So we can break the taboo over “toned” vs “strong” game and encourage body toning exercises (through weights) for both.
Women are less powerful than men due to myriad reasons like lower muscle mass, lower lung capacity and smaller hearts, leading to lower stroke volumes. The ability of women to recover from high-intensity exercise is often greater than men’s. This means that after a particular exercise, women recuperate faster than men, so they can easily switch to the next rep. So ideally, a man might prefer a slower, longer work out where as a woman might go for short, multiple workout sessions.
Some Weight Training Exercises
No matter how much the body constitution of men and women differ, there are some specific weight training exercises applicable for both men and women. Let’s take quick look at them-
1. Dumbbell Upright rows
Choose a pair of dumbbells and stand with your feet wide apart. Hold the dumbbells with palms facing down and place them on your thighs. While inhaling, keeping your back straight, lift the dumbbells in front of your chest, to just below chin level. Keep them as close to your body as possible. Slowly lower the dumbbells back down as you exhale and repeat this 3 to 4 times.
2. Alternated Biceps Curl
Stand up and hold one dumbbell with each hand down the side of your body, palms facing each other. Raise one dumbbell until it reaches your shoulder’s height and while slowly lowering it back down after a short pause, start raising the other one. Repeat this 3 to 4 times.
3. Inner Biceps Curl
Stand up and hold one dumbbell with each hand down the side of your body, palms facing each other. Raise both dumbbells until they reach your shoulders’ height and slowly lower them down after a short pause.
4. Weighted Abdominal Crunch
Lie down on your back on a bench or on floor and hold a dumbbell on top of your chest. Raise your upper body until your shoulder blades no longer touch the bench and lower yourself back down after a short pause. Repeat this 3 to 4 times.
5. Weighted Leg Raise
Lie down with your back on the bench, hands gripping the sides of it and hold a dumbbell between your feet. Raise your legs up until they are perpendicular to the floor and lower them back after a short pause. Try to keep your legs extended by keeping your knees at the same angle.
6. Dumbbell Squat
The Dumbbell Squat leg exercise is performed by lowering yourself down while standing still and holding one dumbbell with both hands down between your legs. This exercise helps toning the muscles of your thighs and buttocks.
7. Dumbbell Swing Through
Though technically a leg exercise, the Dumbbell Swing Through targets many muscle groups in your body. Stand up straight holding one dumbbell with both hands. Lower yourself down and then up again by swinging your hands with dumbbells above your head. This will stretch your back, shoulder and arm muscles.
8. Stationary Lunge
The Stationary Lunge leg exercise for stronger thigh muscles is an exercise in which you place one foot back and the other in front; and you lower and raise yourself back up without moving your feet. It is observed that lunges target the same muscles as squats do.
Diet and Weights for Muscle Toning/Building:
A proper balanced diet plays a very important role while muscle toning or body building. Inadequate nutrition like fats, proteins, minerals or carbs can lead to a decrease in muscle mass, lower body strength and decrease confidence and energy levels. Here’s an overview of how to pump in the strength and vigour into your appearance with a perfect combo of diet and muscle toning workouts.
1. Eat Every Three Hours
If you break your one whole meal into multiple smaller meals, it causes less cravings for food and prevents binging on unhealthy foods.
2. Eat Protein with Each Meal
We need protein to build muscles. Proteins also help fat loss since they have the highest thermic effect. And secondly, they keep you satiated longer than carbs. You should eat least 1g protein per pound of body-weight.
3. Eat Fruits and Vegetables with Each meal
Fruits and vegetables are low calorie, so they can be taken with every meal. Plus, they are rich in vitamins, minerals, fibre and anti-oxidants.
4. Eat Carbs Post Workout Only
Try to eat potatoes, oats, quinoa, rice, pasta bread, and noodles post workout only. Eat high fibre low calorie fruits and veggies like banana, spinach, oranges, apples, berries, pineapple, broccoli, tomatoes, pumpkin, beans, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, bok choy, roman lettuce, chicory, peas.
Benefits of Weight Training:
- Not only does strength training increase your physical work capacity, it also improves your ability to perform day to day activities smoothly. You will be able to work harder and longer with the proper weight training activities.
- It improves bone density and is one of the best ways to control bone loss with aging.
- It promotes fat-free body mass with decreasing sarcopenia. The lean muscle mass that we all work so hard for decreases with age. If we don’t add strength training to our routine, then it will turn into fat.
- It Increases the strength of connective tissue, muscles, and tendons. This leads to improved motor skills despite the age factor and decreases injury risk.
- It improves the overall quality of life and boosts body confidence. Weight training will not only make you strong, but will also help in managing your weight.
- Weight training also improves the quality of sleep and helps us sleep deeper and longer.
- It also helps you achieve those curves and the well-sculpted body you always desired.
If you’re still in a dilemma over that weight training schedule you’re dying to follow, then don’t hesitate. Follow the above tips for a wonderful way towards a toned, confident appearance. You can make your own home gym by buying the necessary weight equipment or register for a regular gym membership, which can guide you to a proper weight training program.