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Strength Training for Women

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If you give your body a challenge with a good strength-training program, three times a week aerobic exercise and a sensible diet, your body will adapt to that challenge by getting stronger, fitter and leaner.

MEMBER QUESTION: When I lift heavy weight at high repetitions, my legs get huge. Should I remedy this by not lifting quite so heavy?

LINGUVIC: First of all, what exercises are you doing? If you're doing things like leg presses, they tend to just give you overall strength and size.

I would recommend you do exercises like lunges and squats, with moderate weight. Single leg exercises such as a lunge, will be better for you if feel like your legs bulk up quickly, but priority is doing aerobics three times a week and a sensible diet.

Please don't be afraid of strength training. If you do it correctly, it will not bulk up your legs. If you want the shape of your legs to change, you need to give them a challenge. Exercises like lunges and Swiss ball squats will challenge your body to react and your body will get leaner, longer and stronger.

MEMBER QUESTION: I am a 59-year-old woman and I'm looking for help in gaining back muscle strength that I appear to be losing with age. Any suggestions?

LINGUVIC: Absolutely. We lose muscle every year as we age, which is why strength training should be a priority for women. We also need to keep our bones strong and the best way is to do weight bearing exercise. The muscle pulls on the bone and the bone gets stronger and stronger. You can increase your bone density at any age.

I would recommend a basic full-body program to increase your muscle mass. Three times a week would be ideal.

MEMBER QUESTION: I have back fat where the bottom of my bra lies. How or what do I do to get rid of this?

LINGUVIC: That challenge is common in a lot of women. You need to tone up the muscles of your upper body. I would recommend you do exercises like dumbbell rows, but please remember to work your whole body even though you want to firm up your back. You can certainly have a leaner upper body with a strength-training program.

MEMBER QUESTION: I had a C-section and I am having a hard time getting rid of that bulge. Any suggestions?

MEMBER QUESTION: As I am getting older my stomach area is getting flabby. I do sit-ups, but what else could I do to flatten my stomach?

LINGUVIC: Ah, the elusive abs. First of all, make sure you're totally healed from your C-section and you have your doctor's approval before working out.

Again, sit-ups alone aren't much for the abs. You want to hit your abdominal muscles from a couple of different angles. I would recommend starting off with Swiss ball crunches. You lie on the ball doing a crunch, bringing your ribs closer to your hips. Another great exercise is the plank, where you're actually lay face down in a push-up position.

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