Intimidation, that near paralyzing feeling that literally stops all of us at one time or another in our tracks. We feel as if we haul more baggage than Ebenezer Scrooge’s partner, Jacob Marley, dragging chains through the afterlife. And then, upon hitting the end of our rope, comes that ill-fated moment when we stand up and decry the line made famous in, "Network", the motion picture, “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!”
All too often, the gym-floor bleeds intimidation, as I spy, (generally speaking), males doing battle, (myself included), with the free-weights, whilst the females relegate themselves, (generally speaking), to what I deem, “cardioland".
Here’s the problem: Those performing weight-resistance exercise with regularity, will, in fact, enhance their physiques in a noticeable way; i.e. leaner, tighter and more defined muscles, while those limbering around in cardio-land might lose weight, (fat, muscle and water), BUT the composition of their bodies remains fleshy! Here’s the solution: Cardiovascular exercise is defined as anything performed for 20 minutes or longer without cessation and involving the heart and should be interpreted not in burning calories, (the majority of which will be replaced, once the ravenous individual ingests them with his/her next meal), but rather in speeding up the metabolism for the duration. Furthermore, cardio, (for fatburning purposes), is best performed either first thing in the morning on an empty stomach or following the completion of one’s resistance training, but never before, (for too depleted will the purveyor be).
If anything, I see far more women training just as hard or harder than their male counterparts every day, yet claiming little in the way of results. When pressed, I am often told how their diet is perfect, how they are hardly eating, and still the fat just sits there! Following their thoroughly frustrating and cathartic tirade, I explain the common two blocks in their path: overtraining and under eating. And right there, I lose their vote. Yes we can turns into uh, no and goodbye, within seconds.
My heart goes out to you ladies for I love you, believe me. It is you who allows entry for future generations on our planet, it is you who taught me both communication and sensitivity and yes, it is you who struggles with naturally having to carry a higher body part percentage than we, it is you who has to a pay a monthly bill that take decades to fully mature and yes, it is you who struggles on a day to day basis with managing more excessive water than perhaps even the once unsinkable Titanic! Alas, is it US that must approach YOU in hopes for a date…but that’s a whole other article.
We all have a dream, and aside from seeing my clients achieve their physique goals, I want to see more women on the actual gym floor routinely performing weight-resistance training and less of you on the cardio machines on your phones and sprinting to warp speed that even Scotty can't beam you up, for you are traveling too fast!
I want you on the floor and enthused, (once again), about your workouts! Of course weights can be intimidating, for all of us! Even I once started with the naked 45-pound Olympic bar whilst performing bench presses until one day, (some years later), working up to sets with 405 pounds!
Please, if you have a question, come up to either myself, or someone else in the know, (just as long as they are not grunting and groaning or have not forgotten to apply deodorant that day) and ask us. We men love to help solve problems! Yes, I know, you are not looking for problem solvers, just a willing ear to listen. But again, that’s another article…
What follows are, what I see as 10 common mistakes, or myths many women may associate with the gym and its varying modalities. Let’s turn those untruths into knowing smiles and arm you in how to go about doing and holding your own on the gym floor. No longer relegate yourselves to the sidelines, only enlisted in battle can you win the war! Remember, you can be with fit, or you can be with fat! Now hit the trenches!
1. MARATHON CARDIO – With so much cardio performed on a daily basis, it’s a shame we cannot harness its collective energy to power Los Angeles. Perhaps solar panels on your leggings? I chafe just looking at the over-energyexpended daily. 30-45 minutes, tops, for keeping a sluggish metabolism going, per day, 30-45 minutes, tops, and performed at a moderate pace.
2. WEIGHTS MAKE ME BIG – No, all the fat, sugar and wine you are consuming are making you fat. Aside from improving your posture and bone density, resistance training is making your muscles firmer. Wanna get big with all that estrogen running through your body? You would need to lift heavy weights for low reps, eat a lot of food regularly, and be genetically suited for dense muscle accumulation over a period of years. Like a sequel to Ishtar, it ain’t gonna happen. Want to give up enhancing your natural genetic shape by minimizing the flawed and maximizing your strengths? Then avoid weights, for only through them will you achieve a silhouette that would make even a Disney animator drop their stencils mid stroke. Remember, the only thing separating a "lean and toned" physique from a "bulky" model is the body fat surrounding the muscles. You must burn fat to show muscle.
3. GOTTA LOSE WEIGHT – Put down those magazines proclaiming skinny and emaciated is in. Forget the numbers. Change your thinking. It’s not the size, it’s the quality. Get your mind out of the gutter! Use the mirror, your clothes and photos to tell you where you are, not your Aunt Pearl who says you’re too skinny and not eating enough.
4. I'M BARELY EATING – You’re right on that one. Sugar-laden coffee concoction for breakfast, leafy salad thing for lunch and finally, the whole fridge for dinner. Calorically, it probably doesn’t add up to a whole lot and in actuality is not enough of the right things to keep you running and shedding fat! Small and frequent meals throughout the day will always be the ticket.
5. GET IN THE CORNER – So the thought of lifting weights seems impossible? Perhaps hire a trainer, go with a friend or simply occupy your own area where you are comfortable and seemingly off other peoples' minds, if that’s constantly your concern. I can tell you that here in Los Angeles, no one is looking at you, they are looking at themselves. Go to your corner and get it on!
6. DRESSED FOR THE OSCARS – Remember people, we are in the gym to look good out of it. Feeling confident is one thing, but getting overly done up just to look fabulous in cardio-land seems futile to me. Suit up with your own gears of war, (hat, iPod, sports bottle), and get to work!
7. PATIENCE – Axl Rose sang at least two brilliant things, “worrying’s a waste of life” and “Patience.” It takes weeks to see even subtle changes in your body. Trust me. Whilst preparing for competition, back in the day, I wouldn’t even pose for my nutrionalist for weeks into the diet for we both knew it was too early to see the effects. Only until weeks 5 and 6 did I come in and pose.
8. SUIT UP - In screenwriting, (my other passion), there is something in action movies called, “the suit-up scene.” In this quick montage accompanied by cheesy synthesizer music, (at least in the 80’s – see, Rambo: First Blood Part 2"), the hero gears up, or prepares for war, whereby he or she, dons the usually military arsenal that couldn’t possibly fit on one person in the hopes of taking out the enemy whilst staying alive and thusly ensuring the sequel… Grab your weapons and gear up. For me it’s my pre-workout caffeine, iPod complete with Pantera, Megadeth and 2Pac and my blood red headphones, a Superman shirt and equally loud Superman sneakers and it's up, up and away!
9. STEPS – "I’ll get to weight training just as soon as I melt this fat off", is commonly and falsely believed. Oh brother! Finally attack the weights when you’ve sacrificed precious muscle tissue, energy reserves, and strength? That’s about as good an idea as another, "Harry Potter" movie – don’t get me started! Sometimes when we go shopping, we have to get what we need and not what we want. Now you may WANT to perform endless hours of cardio, read your magazine, and text your friends but you NEED resistance training now, sister for it will bring about change we can all believe in!
10 FLUX CAPACITOR – Doc Brown had the one idea in, "Back to the Future", that through the Flux Capacitor time travel was possible. His fixation on this one item, (along with stolen Plutonium and dog Einstein), allowed him to conquer the impossible. Find something to focus on in the gym that will get you away from cardio-land and into the pit. For me it’s the smith-machine on leg day. Or the power rack on back day. Or the incline press on chest day. Find something on the gym floor that you want to attack, (non-human), and go to it!
I'll be looking for you at the gym; on the floor with your brothers. Keep proudly rocking your summer body!