Michelle Obama works out 90 minutes three days a week with a personal trainer. CNN ran a story about it recently with some added tips on how to start a strength training routine. One part that struck me as catty was this: “When Obama emerged with uncovered arms on Tuesday, some grumbled about her showing too much skin on an occasion where other women were wearing long sleeves or suits. Boston Herald columnist Lauren Beckham Falcone wrote to Obama, ‘It’s February. Going sleeveless in subzero temperature is just showing off. All due respect.’”
She’s just jealous. If I could do sleeveless like Michelle Obama, heck yeah I’d be doing it in subzero temps!
I know many of you reading already have a strength-training regimen. I also know some of you reading are concerned you’ll bulk up. Three words: It. Can’t. Happen. Not unless you start injecting A-Rod drugs in your bum, you will not bulk up like a body builder. I work my upper body five days a week. I do 3 sets/15 reps of four rehab exercises five days a week (wall push-ups and rotator cuff, biceps and lat work with a Theraband), and in addition, I do 30 minutes of upper body work twice a week. You’ve seen my photo. I’m no body builder, but my muscles are toned. Not Obama toned, but then, that’s my new goal, right?
And as if having toned arms isn’t enough, strength training builds lean muscle mass and bone density (click here to read what the Mayo Clinic says about strength training). Because I haven’t had a period in two years and my blood tests all come back normal (I’m not in perimenopause), my doctor sent me in for a bone density test to make sure I wasn’t wasting away inside. After the test, the technician told me I had the bones of a 30-year-old! 45-year-old, creaky-joint, gray-haired me has the bones of a 30-year-old! (Now if I could just get that skin elasticity back…) She asked me if I lifted weights and I told her I did. She said that was it and to keep it up. And so I do.
I’ve written about this before, but I’m still amazed at what ST did for me while I was losing weight. I’d started walking for exercise in April 2006. My measurements were 44-38-49 and I weighed 187. In September, five months later and just before joining the gym, they were 41-36.5-45.5 and I weighed 164. Two months later, after adding strength training to my routine and upping my cardio routine by implementing the elliptical and bike, and by walking at higher inclines on the treadmill, my measurements were 39-33.5-42.5 and I weighed 152.7. While the scale moved at a respectable rate, what really improved were my measurements. Eight inches gone in two months!
I don’t use weight machines anymore. I prefer dumbbells and a barbell and my own body weight (Pilates and yoga), but whatever you choose to use, use it! Work your arms, your back, your core, your legs. Cardio isn’t enough. In fact, I’ve cut back my cardio routine to 2-3 hours a week and ramped up the ST to 3 hours a week and I’m maintaining my weight just fine. I was worried at first since I’d been such a slave to cardio, but taking that leap of faith rewarded me with much stronger, leaner muscles than I could ever achieve sweating on an elliptical for six hours a week.
As always, I recommend the books “Body For Life for Women” by Pamela Peeke, “The Body Sculpting Bible for Women” by James Villepigue, Hugo Rivera, Nicole Rollolazo, and Robert Kennedy, and “Strength Training For Women” by Joan Pagano. Also, a big shout out to MizFit who also has the rockin’ arms (and rockin’ everything else) and offers a lot of simple, everyday ways to fit ST into your day.
So…thank you again Mrs. Obama for inspiring me and being a role model for women’s strength training. I hope you ignore those green-eyed naysayers and keep on keepin’ on with those sleeveless dresses.