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The TRUTH About Women and Strength Training! [Part 1]

There's an incredible movement happening at DSC. 

It is empowering women to get stronger.

It's helping them feel better.

And it is resulting in incredible results with their physique, fitness, and confidence, both inside and outside of the gym.

That movement is making strength training a staple in their workouts. 

We are here to clear the confusion surrounding women and strength training to give you a better understanding of its benefits and show you it's real power!

We asked several of our female members and coaches a few questions about their experience with strength training.

1. Before DSC, what was your opinion of strength training?  Did you know what it was? Did you have experience with it?

2. What common myths do you feel surround women and strength training?

3. Why is strength training important to you and why do you love feeling strong?

4. What's your favorite strength exercise and why?

5. What advice would you give women who were interested in getting started with strength training?

Here are their answers.

Enjoy :)

Meet Renee - DSC Manager & Women's Group Director 

1. Strength training is a great way to shred fat; a pound of muscle on your body will burn more calories than a pound of fat will, even at rest! The stronger you are, the better able you are to take on day to day activities such as running around with the kids/grandkids, taking care of the dogs, lawn care, household chores, etc. This may seem basic to some, but as you age and become more sedentary, these tasks can become increasingly challenging.  Before you know it, you need to rely on others to help you. Being strong gives you the freedom to accomplish what you want, when you want, without having to rely on others.  When we are self sufficient we are empowered!!

2. Hands down the number one myth is that strength training will make them bulky! Believe me, the ladies you see who are bodybuilding have spent many hours specifically training to get to where they are; it's not going to happen to "you" by adding a well designed strength program into your fitness routine!

3. Along with the reasons I mentioned above, I think I'd have to say actually feeling strong is what I love most! On a personal level, I feel healthier and more capable of anything I want to accomplish when I feel strong. I've done various physical activities throughout my life; danced, run, swam, biked, etc. and I've enjoyed them all, but none of them has made me feel as invincible as strength training. :)

4. I've been struggling to pick just one here, it'd be a toss up between the squat and the push up. Both offer a huge "bang for your buck" in completing. The squat is a fantastic lower body exercise which replicates a movement we complete several times in our normal day to day living. This one simple exercise targets multiple muscles at once, quadriceps, glutes, abdominals, etc. In similar  fashion, the push up (when properly performed) is an excellent total body exercise. Both can easily be performed almost  anywhere and there are multiple ways you can make the exercise easier, harder, or just offer variety!

5. Looking to get started? Get help! If you are new to strength training make sure you find a program and coaches who will help you stay safe, teach you how to properly perform the exercises and can develop a program that will properly align with your goals!

Meet Colleen - DSC Member

1. Before DSC, what was your opinion of strength training? I did have an vague idea as to what it was, I wouldn't call it 'experience' by any means. I just thought it involved all of that complicated, intimidating, bulky equipment you'd see in those big box gyms. I tried to use those machines before but honestly found them extremely boring and monotonous. I really didn't know what I was doing and there wasn't anyone around to teach me or show me proper form and technique, so I would just give up and walk away. I'd end up on an elliptical or treadmill. Accomplishing very little and naturally not seeing any change or results whatsoever. It was such a dreadful chore. 

2. I had the misconception that if I strength trained too much or too heavy that I would just get "bulky" and not get the result I had hoped for. I thought excessive amounts of boring cardio on complicated machines was the necessary answer. I was so wrong!

3. Strength training is important to me in so many ways. I'm a mom and want to stay active, healthy and strong for myself and my children for years to come. Tackling every day tasks with more ease and strength is so important especially as we gracefully age.  I have found a passion for exercise. I have found that if I work hard and stick with it I can do things I never thought possible. I feel empowered and proud that I have achieved so many goals thus far. I'll continue to challenge myself and push myself past my own comfort zone just to see what I am physically capable to do! I love the outcome and results!

4. There are so many strength exercises that I love but my favorites would have to include exercises that show the power and strength in my legs/quads. I love to push the heaviest sleds I can right alongside with the strong DSC men in my class. That makes me so proud! It's such an accomplished feeling. Heavy trap-bar deadlifts are another one of my favorites too!

5. What advice would I give women who were interested in getting started with strength training? Do it, don't be intimidated, and don't wait another second to join and consider strength training! DSC trainers have so much knowledge and will be there for you every step of the way, with proper instruction and encouragement, gently pushing you past your comfort zone to help build a stronger, healthier you!

Meet Brianna - DSC Member

1. Before I started at DSC I had done various workout classes/programs from "body pump" to Crossfit. The most recent had been Crossfit which gave me the experience (or perception) that for strength moves your goal was to push to the max until failure. As a fairly competitive person who likes to feel successful, this was not necessarily the most positive experience for me. Not to mention it lead to some injuries that I'm still working around today. Boy has my opinion changed! I have learned that you can get stronger and feel achievement without needing to push to failure and as a result feel immensely more positive about my workouts. 

2. Growing up as a woman I was told "cardio, cardio, cardio" or yoga and pilates. The fear built into me by society of course was that I would "bulk up" because that's not feminine. I feel that in recent years thanks to programs like DSC, women and strength training is finally getting a good reputation. 

3. Strength training is so important because your body is the only one you have and you aren't doing it any favors running your body ragged with cardio only and not creating strength in the muscles and ligaments holding it together. For the first time in my life, I can say that I am seeing the benefits of combining strength, cardio, stretching and mobility. (Gee aren't I lucky to be part of a gym that focuses on all of this?!) On a more personal note it has been wonderful to hear my fiance brag to other people about how "strong" I am. I love not only feeling strong and being able to do certain things I never have before but also to know that my other half describes me as strong! 

4. Trap bar deadlifts are my personal favorite because there is a heck of a feeling when you can say to yourself "wow I just picked up almost twice my weight. And I did it 3 times in a row!" The power that you feel when your whole body comes together and to lift all that weight up is incredible. However, I think chin-ups are my favorite to watch others do. I have seen so many people get excited and celebrate as they improve one their chin-ups. "OMG I just did a chin up without a band" or even "I was able to do the first round with only the orange band this time!" How can you not love an exercise that so many people see results with and also feel so accomplished doing? 

5. Believe in yourself and your body's abilities. I have told countless people that I am amazed constantly at the new things I am able to do that I couldn't previously thanks to strength training, and they will be too: jumping half your height, holding planks for more than 3 minutes, swinging KB's that you previously were shocked were even made so heavy. Even the everyday things: picking up your niece/nephew or grandchild with ease, being able to help unload furniture or shovel out bark mulch for the yard this spring. Of course, it doesn't matter when or where you're starting, success is improving over the yesterday version of yourself a little each day. The coaches of DSC make sure every person is working towards this success.

Meet Jen - DSC Member

1. I grew up with brothers who were into “bodybuilding” and I always admired people who I viewed as strong. Before DSC I had a few periods of time when I used weight machines at a chain gym, but I always had one eye on the free weight area… since I didn’t even know where to begin and really didn’t think I’d “fit in” with all the guys in there, I never seriously considered it. 

I clearly remember the first time I saw a kettlebell. My friend’s husband had them and did his best to convince me of the merits of kettlebell workouts. He was a little bit hardcore, so I thought it was way out of my league but a seed had been planted and after that I was really envious of people who could do that kind of workout. 

2. It’s pretty common to hear women say they would like to “get toned” but they don’t want to “get bulky” or “look like men”. The reality is that women need to be strong ... pushing, pulling, lifting, carrying, squatting... I want to be able to do the things my life requires of me with ease. I often think about how much easier raising my now teenage boys would have been if I had been stronger. For many years being overweight and lacking real strength not only made doing things that I needed to do a challenge, but also held me back from things I would really love to do. From the very beginning of my weight loss journey, I knew my goal included being strong. That desire for functional strength is what drew me to DSC!

3. It’s hard to say what strength exercises I love most. Some things really demonstrate to me just how far I’ve come, like kettlebell swings and heavy sleds. When I’m hitting a really big goal I remember starting out with what now seems like such a small weight – and that realization feels amazing! I also love making progress in my weaker areas and adding weight little by little to meet my deadlift and bench press goals, for example. It’s as much about mental strength as it is physical. Some days when I stand there, getting ready to lift something that is heavier than the last time I did that same exercise… a little voice tells me I just can’t do it. It’s quite a mind game, but the payoff when I see that I CAN do it – THAT is amazing,  and that work pays off outside the gym as well. 

4. Strength training is about so much more than aesthetics. Physical strength enables a woman to overcome so many physical and mental limitations - it’s allowed me to live both the adventurous and the everyday life the way I want to. 

5. Women who want to get started should not be afraid of being a beginner- start small. As you push your body and your mind the limits will be pushed too.  I love the saying “I may not be able to add days to my life, but I can add life to my days.”  Strength training has done this for me!

Meet Kerry - DSC Member

1. My experience with strength training  didn’t begin until I was in college. Back then there really wasn’t any focus on functional strength training or mobility. It was all about weight lifting and lifting as much as possible. I learned from others in the weight room, whether it be good or bad advice and technique.

I continued to lift weights after college and during my 20’s and 30’s. I enjoyed it and needed to for work, but it was easy to take a break and not go for weeks at a time.  I knew it was beneficial to get a workout in and strength train, but it was easy to let other things get in the way.

I joined DSC not long after it opened in 2008. I was immediately hooked and found the workouts challenged me in ways I couldn’t have imagined. The added health benefits for me have been increased bone density and decreased heart rate. Every time my blood pressure is taken there’s a comment about my low BP and resting heart rate. I also now see the benefits from functional strength training and mobility work, especially as I get older and deal with injuries here and there.

2. I think one big myth is that women need a different program then men. That’s not true at all. The reality of it is that some folks need a program that is tailored to their needs based on experience level, injures and goals. There are plenty of women who “bring it” to DSC each day. For those women who may question their abilities, the Women’s Program is the perfect place for them to gain confidence and start!

3.  For me, strength training is important for the aforementioned health reasons and because it’s important for my job. I also appreciate the mental release I get from a good workout and it’s become a reliable outlet.  Watching family members experience significant medical problems after years of failing to take care of themselves has resonated with me more than ever as I creep later into my 40’s.  I wish I had developed better habits sooner, particularly with nutrition. But, I’m working on it. Most of the time!

4. As much as I hate to admit it, I’ve grown to appreciate deadlifts in all forms because of all the muscles they hit (credit to DSC Coach, Chris Martin for that). Trap bar, SLDL, etc. I’m also a fan of the kb swing for the same reasons, but with the added benefit of increased heart rate.

5. The advice I would give to someone new to strength training is to seek advice from a professional. Friends mean well, but unless they’re a certified coach, they might not have the knowledge to help you the best.
I would also tell them to put their fears aside. Although it can be intimidating to walk into DSC, the coaches will help and the other members will support them. You’ll need to take it slow and that’s fine because you need to progress at your own pace, not someone else’s.

Meet Cheryl - DSC Member

1. I thought it was basically just that weights were involved. I have gone to other gyms in the past  and there was always multiple machines with many types of weights. The great thing about DSC was I learned that I could use weights as well as my own body for conditioning! Using my own body as a weight with different movements has been great! I feel I've gained strength especially in my core and my endurance has really grown.

2. I think some women think that maybe weight training might be too difficult but here at DSC you and the coaches weave the weight training with the right kind of cardio that makes it so achievable for all levels.

3.  Strength training has become so important to me because I have been able improve every part of my overall strength in all areas of my body. Before DSC every morning I would get up out of bed and I was never sure if my knees, hips, back or shoulders would hurt.  Since joining DSC, starting with the Women's Group and then moving to the Adult Group I feel the strongest I have felt in years and getting up in the morning has never felt so good!! 

4. My favorite strength exercise is probably using the kettle bells.  They have so many variations of exercises that you are able to get a full body workout all at once.

5. My advice to any woman who is thinking of giving strength training a try would be TO DO IT!!  The Women's Group starts you off on the right foot, each class helps you to slowly gain strength and confidence in yourself. I started there over 2 years ago and I'm reminded daily with how strong and good I feel.  It has truly been the best decision I've made for myself.  

Meet Christie - DSC Member

1. I always enjoyed strength training even "pre DSC". Although it has been years, since high school sports & into my 30's, I was always one that enjoyed working out. I had minimal knowledge about weight training and little experience though. It was me just walking into a gym & figuring it out on my own.

2. There are a couple myths that surround women and strength training that come to mind.  One being that women shouldn't lift weights because they'll get "bulky" or too muscular. The other being that men & women should not be doing the same exercises or routines. Both are 100% false!

3. Strength training is super important to me because it helps with my overall health; I have way more energy,  I am stronger and can now do things that I wasn't able to do before at home and at work as well. I love feeling strong because it makes me feel confident in myself. Feeling strong is a way for me to measure how all of my hard work has payed off  because I can see all of my progressions. 

4. One of my favorite exercises is the deadlift because it's essentially a total body exercise and it's a great strength builder.

5. I would tell any woman who was interested in strength to go for it and to not be intimidated. It's an awesome way to get into shape and feel amazing. Regardless of what your goals are, strength training has its place in everyone's routine. It can be tailored to each and every individual's goals regardless if they're male or female, that is the greatest thing about it.

Meet Cathi - DSC Member

1. My first real experience with strength training was in the police academy where lifting as much and as heavy as you can was the goal. This focused primarily on how much you could bench, as this was part of the physical aptitude test to get into the academy. I had almost no experience with strength training before this and never discussed proper form.  

2. A common myth surrounding women and strength training is that building muscle mass and definition makes us less feminine. I recall feeling embarrassed when people would comment on my muscles. DSC trainers and members support strength in women and encourage us to be proud of our strong bodies.  

3. Strength training is important to me first, because my work can be physically demanding and being physically strong gives me a sense of safety. Secondly, I think being physically strong sets a good example for my daughter, and this is important to me.

4. My favorite strength exercises are deadlifts and anything using the sleds.   Both make me feel strong and capable!

5. Advice I would give to women getting started with strength training would be to not be intimidated by it. Don’t be afraid to bump up the weights a bit and step out of your comfort zone.   And when you start to see results and people comment on the changes in your body, be proud instead of trying to cover up or hide your muscles.

Meet Erin - DSC Member 

1. Before I started at DSC I really didn’t have much understanding of what strength training was. I had a 30lb weight loss as I had just started running and a friend had told me that since I had lost so much weight I should strengthen, condition and tone... and that’s how I came upon DSC.

2. It seems there are many myths surrounding women and strength training but the one that is probably most common and intimidating for women is that they will “ get bulky” from heavy lifting. And another common myth I think women are tricked by is that cardio or aerobic exercise is the most effective way to burn fat and lose weight. I was actually guilty of thinking both of these but I am so very happy to have been proven wrong.

3. Strength training is important to me because it gives me the opportunity to show myself what I am capable of. After several years of strength training at DSC I am able to do things I never thought I could before. I definitely still have weaknesses and things that I would love to be better at and stronger with but that’s why I love strength training....  there are always new goals and things to work toward and better myself at. I love feeling strong because it’s so empowering! I believe that strength training helps make me strong physically but it also builds on my emotional strength and contributes to my confidence and self-esteem. 

4. My favorite strength exercise are the sleds! I love the wide variety of ways we use them and the many benefits they offer...  and they are always challenging and fun.

5. If I could give any advice to women starting out in strength training it would be to be open minded and believe in your capabilities but also give yourself time and be patient with yourself. Strength doesn’t come overnight and it doesn’t come without hard work. It’s an ongoing, always evolving path but that is what makes it so awesome.

Meet Julia - DSC Member

1. Before DSC strength training was a class at my gym only once a week. The weights were light(8lbs) with lots of repetition. We did TRX weekly too. Besides that it was weight circuits at the gym on my own with very little knowledge of what I was doing

2. I think most people assume women can’t lift heavy and can’t make the same kind of gains as men do. The men at dsc kill that myth and are so supportive 

3. Seven months into DSC and I’m lifting with my arms (my weakest link) way heavier than I ever have. I grabbed for the lightest DB's when I started and snatched 30lbs this morning no issue. I was squatting 35 lbs last week and was so pumped after. I love to feel progress and want my kids to see me be fit and strong. I never want to feel like I can’t do something because I’m a woman

4. I am much stronger in my lower half so I love weighted squats, deadlifts and dsc has been my first experience with kettlebells which I love working on the technique and have way more than doubled the weight I started with 

5. Don't underestimate yourself or let anyone else. Everyone starts somewhere and there is no better feeling than seeing the gains you make weekly.  Come to DSC and go at your own pace. Start small and following the one set principle and you will be seeing the progress in no time.

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