Strength training for Indian women: Because all weight loss isn’t fat loss
Before you read on further….THANK YOU! That’s because you cared enough to click on a topic that your eyes would subconsciously skip.
A large chunk of the piously health-conscious women population associates strength/weight training with just one thing – BULKING UP. Thanks to the media’s typical depiction of strong & athletic women as beefed up ‘hulks’. So, you’re not really to blame.
Amidst an enterprising obsession with weight loss, there’s hardly anyone who gives a damn about what that lost weight consisted of. Did that weight loss come to you with a dash of constant fatigue, weakness & frequenting illnesses or infections? Or did you begin feeling tired on just ascending a set of stairs? Well, of course, most of what you lost would definitely have been (fat+water). However, some essential bone & muscle mass, perhaps, got sacrificed as well.
Before we know some real stuff on strength training, I want to share about my grapple with ‘weight’ a.k.a chubbiness during my teens.
My first ‘misinformed’ pursuit of weight loss
There was this tipping point when, at 16, I was totally unnerved with the casual jibes at my moderate, yet visibly chubby-in-bits frame. Comparisons with other girls of my age drove me into a frenzy of rage & grit both. All I wanted then was a thin body, somehow. And thus the fervor for myself minus the baby fat forced me to remain agnostic to anything that was as critical as immunity, stamina & strength. I had hated sports since childhood; so even the basic facts on fitness & health seemed far from my curiosity then.
Game on! I was there, with a crash diet & some burpees & lunges that I did every evening for not more than 10 minutes. So technically, my approach to weight loss was an indiscriminate crash diet & cardio (which I didn’t really know then). This had me cut out sweets, carbonated drinks, pre-packaged food stuffs, & all carbs including rice & rotis (which happen to be the staple food in the Indian household). I chose to remain deaf whenever Mom freaked out at me. The fruit bowls, juices, soups & the not-so-many morsels of sabzis, although, didn’t seem to help much to prevent me from fainting & developing headaches very often. All the more, I looked pale & dramatically weak with a shrunken face, thin forearms with a weird neckline troubled with shabby-looking collar bones too. And God! This never suited me & soon, regret took over my overwhelmed reaction to a loss of 10 kgs in 2 months! I was 66 kgs in September & by November, I weighed exactly 56 kgs.
So what went wrong then?
- A totally flawed diet (Quality of food was absolutely decimated by the miniscule quantity of food). All thanks to my ignorance to the fact that I was still 16 & growing.
- The unmindful practice of cardio.
No doubts about cardios being one of the best workouts to lose weight rapidly but they exert the body greatly at various muscles & joints. Moreover, when your diet lacks essential nutrition to cope up with the stress caused by cardio, you are bound to feel exhausted & weak.
- The Mindset
For many of us, MINDSET doesn’t even appear to be an issue. When your weight loss goal is yanked only towards ‘looking irresistibly good’, the entire ideology about fitness & strength is foiled.
Very soon I regained all those kilos topping it up with another 4 kgs in just 4 months. And probably, the short span never really enticed me to take pictures of me, especially when digicams were still boring & phones weren’t smart enough. Don’t mind the pun!
So why does ‘Strength Training’ creep in?
Strength training routine has to do with the best goodies of working out – Endurance, Strength & Retaining/Gaining healthy muscle.
Hold on, if the last one again prompted you to think bodybuilding. NO!
Because what’s the point starving/burning calories & losing mass from your essential muscles only to leave you weak & frail?
Strength training & bodybuilding are totally different, unlike what I used to think until 10 years ago. With strength training, you acquire the best of your strength (or what the kids call ‘power’) & tolerance to a great deal of physical strain.
That means, common household errands such as lifting a 2 seater, an LPG cylinder, climbing up the stairs with the grocery etc would be something that you’d do with significant ease without complaining of cramps, pain or spasms. Any physical stress would have to work hard to be able to take a toll on your body.
Which exercises are types of strength training?
Basically, exercises which make you burn fat & gain lean & toned muscle by lifting weights represent strength/ weight training. Just like these:
- Bicep curl
& many more which require (& do NOT require any equipment!)
What makes strength training the BEST way to lose body fat?
In order to understand the most minced version of strength training, it simply works something like this:
- You make your body lift weights (again, not necessarily with the hands all the time).
- There’s a resistance that’s developed & the muscles are forced to overcome the resistance. This happens as your body starts to burn fat & spend calories.
- Although the above changes are stimulated by many cardio exercises too, strength training causes the body to shake off those calories for a much longer time, even when the workout is over. Because in this process, your muscles tend to get stronger, more flexible & constantly in action to cope up with the strain they have undergone.
Now, that’s a much lower B.M.R & Voila! A toned avatar you can claim to own soon.
As strange as it may seem, gaining this vital muscle empowers us to burn fat at an amazing speed, none of which makes us feel dizzy or traumatized later.
“Without equipment? Can Yoga be a shot?”
Well, WHY NOT?
The gym doesn’t have to be your premise every time. Especially when making it for hours there isn’t really easy for you post office hours or being a parent whatsoever. In such a scenario, indulging in strength-oriented Yoga poses for even 30 minutes a day can work wonders for your body!
Don’t believe this? Well, it worked cool for me.
It’s just that Yoga makes you lift your own body weight, which is supposed to simulate a much elementary & idiot-proof form of the classic weight training routine. Pulling off effective Yoga poses with your own weight as the ‘weights’ to challenge your muscles is just the equivalent of strength training for beginners.
Which Asanas work best for strength?
- Dolphin pose/ Mayurasana : Strengthens legs & arms
- Boat pose/Naukasana : Strengthens the abs, spine & the buttocks
- Triangle pose/Trikonasana : Strengthens thighs
- Chair pose/Utkatasana : Strengthens spine & buttocks
…and, the masterstroke of Yoga, comes Suryanamaskara or Sun-Salutation which embodies all the robust forms of strength training that even a beginner would find extremely straight-forward.
So be it Yoga or the weights, you can always graduate to advanced levels of the fitness game as your endurance & flexibility increases. But make it a point to not give strength training a miss! I bet my boots, you’ll never look back once your body starts to respond beautifully (..err…without turning ‘manly’!).
Don’t worry, as we’ll never end up donning a ‘hulk‘ body for we don’t make lots of testosterone (male hormone), which works for men only.
Your perks of Strength training
- Delayed Ageing
- Protected bone mass/bone health
- Toned & ‘appealing & sexier’ body
- Increased strength, flexibility & stamina
Having said all that about the fitness gem, ensure that you perform the same under the guidance of a trusted instructor.
And come what may, you can never settle scores with your fat without pampering yourself with a healthy diet.
So, what’s your excuse for not rolling your sleeves up for the strength game, lady? 😉
Your stories with strength training in the comments could buoy up several others who are still shying away from taking the world by storm!
Share in the comments!