Australian Fitness Model Chloe Maxwell

Strong is the new skinny. 2013 marks the year when women who pump iron are a majority rather than a minority.

For years women have slogged it out for hours on treadmills, cross-trainers (and let’s not forget those early mornings at spin class) to try to lose weight and keep their waists tight, but with limited results. They’ve often steered clear of strength training completely buy codeine for fear of bulking up. Since it has become wider known that strength training (mixed with 30-60 mins of cardio daily) is the key to a healthy body, women are increasingly adding weight-bearing exercises to their routines and are seeing great results.

Whilst cardio burns more kilojoules during the workout, studies have shown that for up to 24 hours after pumping iron, your body will continue to burn kilojoules at a faster rate. You see, our bodies have this wonderful mechanism called a basal metabolic rate whereby we burn kilojoules even while we sleep. The best part: the more physical activity we do and the greater muscle mass we have, the faster our metabolic rate, or as In2Fitness Personal Trainer Brett Wheldon calls it: “ increased fat burning potential”.

Besides speeding up your metabolism, strength training may also improve bone strength – reducing your risk of developing osteoarthritis and osteoporosis. Furthermore, strength training (if done right) will improve your functional fitness. Functional fitness is all about being fit for everyday activities like carrying groceries to the car; picking up your toddler out of his/her stroller or even sitting at your desk. Strength training can simulate these activities (i.e. a dead lift is a similar movement to picking up your toddler) and therefore make it easier for you to perform this activity without risking injury.

What’s the allure with strength training? Brett puts it simply: by including strength training in your routine, you’ll be “feeling and looking stronger and more toned”. Fitness Model Chloe Maxwell is testament to this. After years of seeing women “in the smallest bikinis, who had the bigger boobs and who were the skinniest” win modeling competition after modeling competition, Chloe made a conscientious effort to change her way of thinking from focusing on being skinny to focusing on gaining muscle and transforming her body (with great results).

Chloe tells me that working out gives her an adrenalin rush and she is “constantly looking for new ways to target and isolate specific body parts to keep (her) training interesting and avoid (her) body adapting”. And like most women, her favourite muscle group to target is her glutes (booty). “Let’s face it – we are not all blessed with Brazilian backsides”, but she says her favourite exercise to fake it with is the reverse abductor.

Always seek the advice of an Exercise Physiologist or Personal Trainer before incorporating strength training into your fitness routine. And while you’re there, why not ask them about the reverse abductor? It seems to be working for Chloe!