The Truth About Strength Training

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Muscle
Lala Duncan, a trainer at the DOGPOUND.

When it comes to being strong, do we have the strength to do what’s best for us?

By Lalaina “Lala” Duncan, a trainer at The DOGPOUND

Strength
Lala Duncan, a trainer at The DOGPOUND. Photo credit Matteo Matty Matt

As I sit to write this article, I’m channeling my inner “Carrie Bradshaw.” Since moving to New York seven months ago, I can draw reference from a Sex in the City episode to almost anything I do. Just the other day I was thinking that if SITC were still on the air, there would for sure have to be an episode where Carrie and the girls would be sitting in the cafe discussing the effects of getting older. Charlotte would initiate the conversation by saying that she has this amazing trainer at the DOGPOUND that has transformed her body through strength training and invite the girls to come to join her on a session. Carrie would say, “oh, is that the place where the models workout?” Samantha would say, “girls, if I must go, at least I’m going to look hot…besides, I hear that’s where Hugh Jackman trains.” Miranda would roll her eyes and then take a bite of her salad.

I could go on about how amazingly funny I think this episode would be, but the underlying issue here is that only one in four women at the table really understand why strength training is important for them. You know, deep down, I always had a soft spot for Charlotte. This got me to thinking, in a city where so many women are empowered, successful, and educated. When it comes to being strong, do we really have the strength to do what’s best for us?

I can’t tell you how many times I hear from people, “I just want to burn some fat, tone up but I don’t want to lift weights because I don’t want to get bulky.” You can feel the fire coming out of my head because it just burns me up. It’s not their fault that they believe this. Particularly for women of a certain age, we’ve been brought up with this marketing jargon and miseducation that has brainwashed us. I also used to believe this. The real problem here is the misuse of words, that’s all! As a professional trainer, If you tell me you want to “tone” what you are ultimately telling me is that you NEED to lift weights.

Muscles do not tone, they build, and toning is not burning fat. Essentially, we are talking about two separate things. There is a lot of wrong information circulating that if you do lightweights and high repetitions that you can “tone up” without looking too muscular or bulky, but this is simply incorrect. Solid muscle mass is what makes you firm and shapely. To do this, you need to build muscle mass as you lose body fat through conditioning and a healthy diet. How do you build muscle mass? By lifting weights that are heavy for you.

Aesthetics aside, can we discuss how important for graceful aging lifting weights is. Never have so many people been able to live so long, in such comfort, with so many designer shoes. Of course, we all know that every pair of Louboutin’s leave a blister on your heel. The blister here is the effects of not strength training in which the metabolic syndrome, muscle and bone loss, frailty and loss of function and independence starts to take place.

So, whether we choose to believe it or not, we are proud owners of strong muscle and bone and they deserve our attention the same way our designer handbags need to be displayed on the closet shelf. They were too long in the making to just be ignored. I’ve learned from Starting Strength that the very components of our existence now depend on our conscious effort to provide them with stimulus. That stimulus is strength training. After all, the process of getting stronger is the process of becoming confident, and confidence is sexy.

Cut to – Carrie saunters her way out the door of Dogpound in her Adam Selman workout gear to see Mr. Big parked outside, he rolls down the window and says “ how was your workout kid?” She replies. “ I feel strong and sexy. It was fabulous.”

Strength
Lala Duncan, a trainer at The DOGPOUND. Photo credit Matteo Matty Matt