We know that lifting weights, and building strength changes our bodies. The majority of us are still locked in the mindset that weight training makes us bulky, but daily our South African women are learning that this is just a fallacy and that educated exercise and intelligent training builds our bodies, improves our health and longevity whilst constructing an engine that performs optimally and looks good doing it.
Strong is not the new skinny, the new beautiful or the new black. Strong has always been strong. Strong is life. Live strong.
The question is, how does strength training actually change you physically? We understand that the stress applied by the exercise tears your muscle and that the combination of good rest for healing and good nutrition for fuel, repairs these tears, builds the muscle back up stronger and has you coming back for more.
The real magic happening is that these activities are causing the release of precious hormones. These are the bad boys of the body that actually influence how your body will change. Our real goal lies in how to go about your training that will conjure up the best chemistry.
The more integral of the hormones manipulated by training are the ones most of us are familiar with:
Testosterone, growth hormone and cortisol.
I don’t want to bore you with the in depth science and role played by each of these little guys, but I do want you to understand what they are doing to change your body. The better your understanding of their positioning in your training, the more you will manipulate your exercise to best suit your desired outcomes. At the end of the day, the majority of us have around 60 minutes per day reserved for exercise, you want to get the most out of this session and get bang for your buck.
Testosterone is not a hormone we women should be steering clear of. Our bodies naturally produce this hormone, we need it for survival, we need it for positive change to our bodies, and we need it for fat loss, strength, endurance and power. Big exercises such as deadlifts, squats and the Olympic lifts (compound movements that challenge our body in its entirety) will stimulate the big T, more than smaller exercises.
Begin your training session with the big moves, elevate those T levels to get strong!
Growth hormone is something you want to stimulate in your training, GH is not only going to help your body change positively but increases your energy levels, enhances your bodies healing system, improve weight loss and aid in building stronger bones. GH promotes tissue anabolism, so if you want those muscles to grow, GH is a key factor. The most overused word in a woman’s vocabulary is “tone” – to “tone” is to change the size of a muscle. Enter growth hormone. To stimulate this hormone you need more high intensity training, higher rep ranges and shorter rest periods.
However, you also need REST. Those ladies training 7 days a week, 3 times a day whilst licking celery sticks – you kissing your GH away. Rest, recover and sleep and GH will visit you in your dreams.
GH = muscle tone. In a red skin nut shell.
Last but not least we have cortisol, now these last 2 hormones are anabolic whereas cortisol is catabolic so it’s that one hormone we want to limit in our training and is probably the one maximized in uneducated training.
This stress hormone is produced when our training is highly metabolic over a longer period with little to no rest. Whilst it is great for breaking down fat, it is also breaking down muscle. So you may be dropping body fat, but you also losing muscle mass. Leaving you like a soft string of spaghetti and less of an “al dente penne”
To get the best responses from your training, start your sessions with some solid big compound movements that will kick your testosterone production into 1st gear to hone in on your strength development, follow this with some multi-jointed hypotrophy work keeping your reps high with little rest. Not too little rest that it becomes metabolic and you start to over produce cortisol.
Strength & hypertrophy changes your body’s composition and dialing in on hormone production is what’s going to get you the physical changes we desperately want from our training.
I know what works. I know how to rely on my hormones and I know how to be consistent.
Now you do too.
If you hone in on these major chemical beauties, you will be that one step closer to that body composition that really sets you apart.