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Workouts and Your Body

Looking Good
As we mentioned earlier, if your main motivation for exercise is looking good, fret not. A good body usually means that you're on the right track. Just as important, looking good is good for your mind. Having someone say he thought you were 5 or 10 years younger than you are is a simple yet satisfying pleasure. And appearing younger than your peers is also great for your self-confidence as well.

Feeling Healthy
It sounds simple, but people who exercise usually take better care of themselves. When you're committed to working out, it becomes a part of your life and begins to influence many small decisions you make throughout the day. Will you have ice cream for a snack or a piece of fruit instead? Will you have the chicken Parmesan or the spaghetti with marinara sauce? For dessert, will you have the Mississippi Mud Cake or the fruit custard?

After a while, you will begin to notice how much better you feel with more healthful food choices. What you'll also realize is that the better you eat, the more energy you have at work, play, or working out. You've heard of vicious cycles? Well, this is a good "vicious" cycle that you want to initiate.

Here's an important point that turns many people off. Eating better doesn't mean you have to swear off ice cream or filet mignon. What we are saying is that with exercise and healthful eating, you'll feel so good that you will want to make the major indulgences a minor part of your life.

Being Strong
We know we don't have to convince men that being strong is a good thing, since the male psyche seems to relish the role strength plays in life. Women, however, are a different story. Many women equate being strong with having "bulky" muscles. (Not that there is anything wrong with that.) Simply put, this is a misconception that keeps many women from lifting weights in the first place. Those that do lift, often use weights that are so light you'd need to do 9,000 repetitions to get the full effect. (For the record: Three sets of 9,000 take about eight hours.)

Below are some myths about women and strength, and the facts that set the record straight.

Myth 1: Being Strong Means Having Big Muscles
Strength and muscularity are not the same. Strength is the ability to resist force or strain. Muscularity is the ability to develop mass and has to do with your genetic makeup. Huh? We all have a genetic code that determines everything from the color of our eyes to the length of our legs. The size of our muscles is also determined by the genetics passed along by our parents. This is why you can have a guy who looks like a fire truck who can't lift as much weight as a lean, wiry guy built like a greyhound. Why? Because Mr. Fire Truck has the genetics for big muscles and Mr. Greyhound does not.

Myth 2: Heavy Weights and Low Reps Give You Bulk; Light Weights and High Reps Give Your Muscles That Long, Lean Look
Again, the shape and size of your muscles is genetically predetermined. Whether you perform biceps curls with 20 pounds for 10 repetitions, or 10 pounds for 20 repetitions, your muscles will look the way they are wired to look.

Myth 3: Lifting Weights Makes Women Look Muscle-Bound
This is a little hard to answer because it depends on what your definition of muscle-bound is. If you are thinking about the superpumped women on the cover of Muscle & Fitness, don't worry about it unless you have a testosterone level equal to Arnold Schwarzenegger (and a steroid level equal to that of a well-medicated racehorse). Achieving any level of muscularity requires long-term dedication – a level of time and energy that most people don't have. In other words, going to the gym three times a week to strength train is not going to make you any more "muscle-bound" than running on the treadmill several times a week will make you an Olympic-level mara-thoner.

Fortunately, being strong does not require you to look like Ms. Olympia and the benefits are well worth putting in the time.

Not only can increased muscle and strength help you perform better on and off the court, it can have practical benefits as well. Deidre, a physical therapist who works with many elderly patients, finds that many of her clients are unable to do things that we take for granted. Things like going grocery shopping alone, doing laundry, and even getting in and out of the shower. Many of these people are forced to hire aides to help them with normal activities of daily life, making them virtual prisoners in their own homes. Often such dependence is the result of years of neglect. This is reason enough to begin participating in a strengthening routine.


Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Short Workouts © 2001 by Deidre Johnson-Cane, Jonathan Cane, and Joe Glickman. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit the Idiot's Guide web site or call 1-800-253-6476.


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