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The horrors of the Gym

Hi guys,

I’ve been thinking a lot about a concept. I have lost 50lbs in the past four months with about 100lbs to go. The thing is, I haven’t exercised much, just dieted. I’m afraid if I go to the gym I will put on muscle instead of losing pounds. We all know that muscle weighs more than fat, I would gain weight even though it would be 'good weight' so to say. What can I do to burn more calories, tighten the flab, but not gain much muscle weight? I know its kind of silly, but I must know the answer.

Tue. Nov 14, 7:19pm

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It's not a silly question. Many women resist weight training becasue of a fear of bulking up. You can go to the gym or exercise at home and concentrate on cardio. That will help with weight loss. But the thing about weight lifting is that if you are continuing to lose weight through diet and exercise, you will continure to lose fat even if you put on muscle from weights. Muscle is more metabolically active than fat (uses more calories to maintain) so you will be burning calories even at rest. Not to mention the benifits to bone strength that every woman should be concerned with.

Cardio will help you burn more calories. But to "tighten the flab" you will want to weight train. You can continue to lose fat and even weight though the scale may not reflect that right away. A better judge is how your clothes fit. Be sure to clear any exercise program with your doctor.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006, 7:35 PM

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Thank you. I feel much better about going to the gym. You were very helpful.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006, 7:46 PM

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I wish I had an exact figure to quote or a link to attach here, but I know I've read in more than one place that it's hard for women to gain even a pound of muscle a month - we just don't have the testosterone to pull it off. The strange gains you get following a strength workout comes from the retention of water during the muscle repair process.

There's an article about the importance of strength training for women in the December issue of Fitness magazine.

There are also alternatives to weightlifting that work on muscle strength - yoga, pilates, or using resistance bands for example.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006, 7:54 PM

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Congrats on the great progress so far!

It's supposed to be myth that women bulk up because apparently our muscles aren't supposed to do that, but we've all seen enough women that have that it can't help but be a bit of a concern. I completely sympathize, but as long as you're sticking to your good eating habits you should actually see better progress (not necessarily on the scale to start out with, but in the way your clothes hang off of you). You will reach a point where you don't build muscle as quickly as you do initially and then you'll start to see the numbers on the scale move faster. Remeber slow and steady wins the race - don't make the mistake of focusing on a number instead of what's really going on (easier said than done I know).

Also - you don't have to weight train much to see signifigant benefits (nicer muscle tone). 2x a week is fine for most of us. You may want to start out nice and easy and build up a hibit of just going to the gym regularly before you start hitting the weights. Believe me - speaking as a former couch potatoe who has seen the light at the end of the treadmill - once you are into it and it's a habit you might find that you actually *want* to add weights to your routine, and not just because you theoretically know it's healthy.

If you are new to it - I highly recommend a personal trainer or very knowledgable friend guide you through the initial forms and help you come up with a weight-lifting program where you work upper and lower and get plenty of rest.

Most of all - have fun! You won't do it if it doesn't make you feel good, so be safe, start slow and enjoy!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006, 8:05 PM

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Great suggestions here...

I think the previous posters have covered why you want to get to a gym or even just start walking.

I would like to address the myth that muscle weighs more than fat though...this is incorrect. 1 lb of muscle and 1 lb of fat weigh each = 1 lb. 1 lb of bricks and 1 lb of feathers each weighs 1 lb. The trick here that will benefit you is that muscle takes up less space than, if you see two women who both weigh 150 lbs and one weight trains and has a lower body fat percentage, you would comment that she looks much fitter and slimmer than another woman with the exact same weight of 150 lbs but with a much higher body fat percentage.
Here is a picture from a men's message board that illustrates this concept:
He weighs 182lbs in each photo.

So, as you start going to the gym, start measuring your body along with monitoring your weight and even if you don't see the weight drop as you get closer to your goal, you will see a change in inches for sure.

Good luck and enjoy your time in the gym!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006, 1:05 PM

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So weighing is definitely not a good indicator of one's fitness improvement. Body fat % and measurements are! Gosh... somehow this explains a lot.

Thank you.

Thursday, November 16, 2006, 7:35 AM

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the Wed 1:05 poster has it exactly right. Muscle mass takes up less space. when I 1st started lifting wts many yrs ago, I gained 9lbs and dropped 2 dress sizes. Hard concept to grasp, but that's the beauty of wt lifting. I still lift to this day and am always told how slim I look. when i tell people how much i weigh they are shocked. I think it keeps one young as well. So go for it and don't look back.

Thursday, November 16, 2006, 10:25 AM

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Not to mention the self-confidence that one gains when lifting weights. I was timid at first, then it became this challenge that I have for myself. I'm not ever worried that I'm going to "bulk up." I do work with a trainer who showed me good form and how to put a routine together. Right now I'm really confident that I can do it on my own and still challenge myself.

When I started training my BF% was 32, and after 6 or so weeks of steady training and cardio, I dropped 5% points. However, my weight went up, but my clothes fit better.

All I have to say is, "Bring it!"

Thursday, November 16, 2006, 5:15 PM

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About muscle and fat...

My friend is a male body builder and when I was talking to him about how much I wanted to weigh, he basically told me to rely more on my measurements than my actual weight. I happen to build muscle tone very quickly, and what I am finding is that now, although I have only lost 6-8 lbs over the last year, I am 2 sizes smaller in my clothing... so, yes, muscle takes up much smaller space than fat.

I know it's a hard habit to break (the habit of weighing yourself and having a weight goal vs. a size goal.).. but I definitely recommend using a tape measure to measure yourself and look at how you are fitting in your clothing....

Most of the women who are bulky tend to be intereted in body building and do a LOT of weight training to gain the size...

If bulkiness is a concern, I would recommend taking a dance class--I took a hip hop dance class last spring and at the end of each 45 minute class, I was sweating up a storm AND, I could see muscle tone building within a few weeks of dancing (including practicing my dancing at home.) Of course, I felt like a complete idiot when I first started my class, but when I stepped back and thought about it, I had no training, so I started being proud of the steps and dancing that I actually learned through the class! ;-)

Thursday, November 16, 2006, 11:26 PM

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