Weekly Wellness Extra: Women and weights

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COLUMBIA - A heavy weight and bulky men at the gym shouldn't scare you away.

Big weights won't make you bulky. This is key for women to understand when starting a strength training routine.

"Unless you are taking something extra, women are just not going to get bulky," Stephanie Wolf, director of fitness at Wilson's on Rangeline said. "You're going to get that nice tone, that lean muscle that's going to make it look better, not necessarily bulkier, so you get some definition, but women just aren't built that way. Even if you're lifting, honestly we find the heavier you lift, the leaner the muscle is."

But the benefits of weight lifting go far beyond the way it makes women look. Strength training makes bones stronger, which is essential for women because they are at a heightened risk for osteoporosis. But it also benefits men.

"It builds a strong core," Wolf said. "It builds a strong foundation. It lessens your risk for injury. Just quality of life. It improves everything."

Strength training actually boosts the metabolism. So it helps with weight loss by burning fat at a faster rate and slimming the body to look leaner.

This lean look doesn't always correspond to the scale. When people first start lifting, the number on the scale might actually increase.

"The same amount of muscle is going to be a lot heavier than the same amount of fat," Wolf said.

The key is to test how your body feels, not what a scale tells you.

"I usually tell people to buy a pair of jeans and pay attention to that and how you feel," Wolf said.

Consistency is the key. You'll see the changes in inches, body composition, and appearance. In other words, you'll look toned, not bulky, like many women fear.

Wolf says the most important areas you should focus on as a beginner are abs, back and the gluteus maximus muscle, all of which can easily be worked at the office, on the floor or with your kids. 

"Anything that you would normally use a dumbbell, or say maybe a bar, to do, you can use your baby and use that as your resistance." Wolf said. "You can have areas, where say a push-up and you have a baby on the floor, and you bend down and give the baby a belly blow and come back up."

There are many easy tricks to incorporate, it just takes dedication. Make the time to incorporate a few more push-ups or sit-ups and you're one step closer to a healthier, leaner and stronger body.

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