We like to use resistence training within our ladies only indoor bootcamp in Northampton. Whether it’s kettlebells, barbells, dumbells, slam balls, or even body weight training.
I reckon that a good 90% of the ladies that join us refer to their usage of weights in the past as being high rep and low weight. To which I respond ‘you’re not going to get toned with that strategy’.
The way toning seems to be marketed in books and magazines is that of a way of making your muscles look better without making them bigger – using little 1kg weights for hundred of reps a time.
This is BS though as if the weights are not challenging then your muscles will not grow, and if they’re not growing then they’re not looking any better than they do now.
So even if you managed to strip away the surface fat and get your body fat % down (which is also what we focus on achieving), your body will still not look healthy unless the muscle tissue underneath has been worked.
Another problem is that many women think that they are getting stronger by being able to lift a 2kg weight from 15 reps to 30 reps. This, again is not the case. All that’s happened here is that the muscle fibres have become more efficient at lifting a 2kg weight for longer, which is a surefire way to shrink your muscles and reduce their ability to burn calories!!
Heavier lifts require much more energy to perform during the exercise but also during the following recovery phase. The key to a successful change in body composition (fat loss, more efficient metabolism, clothes fitting better etc) is being able to tap into your body’s nervous system – specifically your sympathetic nervous system. This is where the stress hormones are triggered. Heart rate increases, adrenal glands are pumping out adrenaline and your body’s temperature rises.
You don’t get this from doing 30 reps with light weights though, you get it from lifting heavy for 8-10 reps. If you can’t physically lift any more than 8-10 reps then you know you have the right weight. It’s fine to then do a droop set if you wish and go to a lighter weight straight after if you’re performing an exercise for time. Just don’t start with the lighter weights.
This is when your body starts to burn more calories and starts using up your fat stores during the recovery phase the next day. The Afterburn Effect.
Look at the graph below which illustrates the fat burn with one of our High Intensity Workouts with weights and a traditional steady cardio session: