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Myths vs. Truths - "I'm a woman, so I shouldn't do those exercises."

Whether you're a man or a woman, when it comes to resistance training, the most effective exercises are the ones that target the body's largest muscle groups. These are often multi-joint exercises, which means they are exercises that incorporate more then one joint at a time as compared to single-joint exercises like biceps curls and knee extensions.

"Multi-joint exercises tend to elicit the strongest metabolic responses as well as recruit and strengthen muscles appropriately. This increases the potential for greater results, for men and woman."

There may be many differences between the male and female body, but the function of the musculoskeletal systems is virtually identical. The biggest differences on the outside are quite obvious, but those differences have little to do with the impact of a particular exercise.

The hormonal system can have the greatest effect on what happens to the body when a particular exercise and method is implemented. Testosterone is the male hormone and it allows for significant increases in muscle mass when training and nutrition requirements are met. Estrogen is the female hormone and it, unfortunately, does not contribute significantly to increases in muscle mass, regardless of diet and training methods. Women just do not have enough of the male hormone floating around their bodies to generate the same results from training that occurs in most men. If you're a woman, exercise selection alone is not going to determine if you will become muscle-bound or develop the lean body that you desire. In fact, the same exercises that may add significant muscle mass to a testosterone-fueled body is likely to be the same exercise that will help you build tight, shapely legs, glutes and abs.

Good examples of these exercises are the squat and the dead lift--two of my favorites. They often get a bad rap from women, and also some men, who mistakenly believe these moves are only for bodybuilders and power lifters. This couldn't be further from the truth, no matter what your goals. In fact, they're perfect examples of exercises that just about everyone would benefit from incorporating into their fitness program.

Dead lifts and squats illustrate two of the seven primary movement patterns of the human body (hinge, squat, lunge, horizontal push and pull, vertical push and pull and rotation). I'm a strong believer that all seven movement patterns should be a part of every properly designed fitness program. Of course, it's imperative to use proper technique and move well enough to do them correctly. Each of these movement patterns can be modified and adjusted to meet individual needs.

In my experience, some of the most significant physical changes can be made with the right type of exercise. Besides technique, the impact of exercises are mostly determined by the intensity (the amount of weight being used), effort (how hard you are working), rep range, the duration of each set and the rest periods in between each set. I'll discuss this concept a bit further in a future "Myths vs. Truths".

Men and woman will both experience incredible benefits from various types of strength exercises and each are not limited to any exercise because of gender or goals. There are multiple factors that play a roll in the outcome of the exercises that are chosen.

If you'd like to learn more about how to perform any of these exercises correctly, or if you're even ready to begin integrating them into your fitness program, just drop me an email. I'd be happy to assess your movement patterns by taking you through a Functional Movement Screen (FMS). The FMS will allow us to determine how well you move through the seven primary movement patterns. We can then begin to develop a program that's completely personalized for you.

Strength For Life,

JIm O'Hagan

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