Monday, April 9, 2012

Urban Active Fitness Presents: "Progression of Women's Fitness"

by Josh Bowen of Urban Active Fitness

Most of the clients that I have trained in the past have been women. I have always prided myself on making women stronger and more powerful. I have always thought that in most cases, I could make a woman stronger than the men I trained.
It is said, “The only constant in life, is change.” The fitness realm is no different, especially for women. Women’s fitness has progressed from step aerobics and “Sweatin’ to the Oldies,” in the 80’s, to Nautlius equipment in the 90’s, to hot yoga and kettlebell training in the 2000’s. From leggings and fully clothed to the sports bra and showing off the “six pack,” women and fitness have changed and changed big time. Today’s woman is not afraid of picking up a kettlebell, flipping a tire or wielding a sledge hammer.

Years ago, most women would join a gym and only perform cardiovascular exercises such as biking or running on a treadmill. Although great for the heart, this alone does not create the lean, sculpted bodies women are wanting and displaying today. It was always thought that women should not lift weights because it would make them bulky and look like a man. Physiology we know this to be impossible, however the stigma remained and most women would shy away from anything that weighed over 5 lbs.

The traditional routines would consist of high repetitions, usually 3 or 4 sets with 30-60 second rest periods. Cardio usually would precede strength training. Group fitness classes such as Body Pump or “15 minute abs” would have mostly female attendance. In some clubs you would have “Women’s Only,” areas, full of selectorized equipment and cardio.

Now, we have a collection of the fitness population that is not afraid of strength training and performing functional, dynamic movements. We have women not only competing in the Crossfit games but in some cases out performing their male counterparts. Whether it be kettlebell swings for time, muscle ups or flipping tires, women are competing and winning on an equal playing field to the opposite sex. Women are now doing what the guys do and in a lot of guys doing what the guys do better than the guys.

So what is it about non-traditional fitness that has become so appealing to the female gender? Results! From kettlebells to chains on squat bars to pushing the prowler or my personal favorite flipping the 200 lbs tractor truck tire, these nontraditional exercise examples are creating fast results. The intensity and variety of these types of exercises challenge the body and achieve great results by provoking neurologic and hormonal adaptations across all metabolic pathways. To make a long story short, your body is constantly challenged in a nontraditional way; burning bodyfat, building muscle and giving you the body of your dreams. Here are some examples of nontraditional exercises and their benefits:

  • Battling ropes- one the most effective methods of interval training. Battling ropes are one of the more effective ways of developing muscular strength, muscular endurance, cardiovascular conditioning and hand and arm speed. Interval training has shown to be one of the best ways of building strength and shedding bodyfat.
  • Kettlebells- KBs are an efficient way to build strength and endurance for the entire body. Conditioning the body and challenging metabolic pathways to shed body fat and build muscle in a short amount of time.
  • Prowler- The prowler is one of the best ways to sculpt the hips and thighs. Pushing weight as fast as you can, whether for time or for reps, will exhaust you and make you want to throw up. However, it will help you keep it interesting and get results fast.

Through the years, fitness has progressed from the dark ages of nautilus equipment and step aerobics to Crossfit and pushing the prowler. More and more women have been pushing the envelope and working out in a non-traditional way and getting non-traditional results. Change is good, especially when it is great change for the body.

Josh Bowen will be joining Style & Wisdom every Monday for the next few weeks for a series of blog posts about obtaining maximum fitness results.  Josh Bowen has been the Quality Control Director of Personal Training at Urban Active Fitness since 2007 and has trained and directed 400 trainers in 7 states.  Josh has certified trainers, proctored hundreds of seminars and conference calls, and contributed to ten published articles about fitness.  His mission is to spread the word of fitness to as many people as he can through personal training with a motto of "train, motivate, and inspire!" For more useful tips from Josh Bowen, you can find daily posts from him on Urban Active's blog.   

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