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      Fitness Tips For 8/17/2005 

High Intensity Weight Training For Women

She's a HIT! One Woman's Story about Discovering High Intensity Training
By Paula Schaffer

I had my first child at age 16 and three more by age 24. Beaten 
down physically and mentally by an abusive husband, Then, as if, 
by accident, I discovered a secret desire that even I didn't 
realize was buried deep inside. A passion hidden under the numb, 
dead like existence that comes from such a depravating relationship. 
To be alive! To value myself and to be valued. As I healed mentally 
it was natural that the body should follow. I first tried walking. 
It was a 10th of a mile to the top of the hill, up the road from 
where I lived. Somewhere between a size 14 and size 16 at 5 ft. 4 
inches, I'd tell myself, "when I can actually make it to the top 
of the hill without stopping, I'll be in better shape." That habit 
was hard to keep. I had so far to go to get in shape that self 
defeating thoughts kept me from getting started.

Then a good friend, (who also had 4 kids the same age as mine) and 
I joined the YMCA aerobic dance classes. HA! What a joke. Have you 
ever tried to keep up with some dance queen, let alone learn any 
of the steps. I use to swear that she was there just to show us 
how cute she was and to make us look bad by comparison. We tried 
several different aerobic dance classes over time, only to give up 
before we'd see any results from the sheer torment to our already 
suffering self esteem. And, by the way, can someone tell me, why 
did most of the instructors have so much cellulite on their thighs?

Once and only once, we tried a women's roller skating class 
designed to help drop weight and get in shape. We couldn't believe 
it when the instructor rolled in. And I do mean rolled in. She
had the most unbelievably huge thighs! Poor woman. We all just 
looked at each other and I'm sure they were thinking the same 
thing I was, "RUN! I came here to get skinnier not bigger!"

Then came the organized floor exercises to music at Elaine Powers. 
No equipment except for some ankle weights & elastic bands. That 
was pretty fun, especially the part after class where we felt 
that we deserved a reward so we went out for tacos or pizza & 
apple fritter from the Safeway bakery. I must have gained 
another 10 lbs. with that one.

Then, I got lucky... my ex-husband got a girlfriend!

Looking back now, it was the best thing that ever happened to me, 
but at the time, the stress of the ordeal made it nearly impossible 
for me to swallow food. I'm not sure what I ate, I do know it 
wasn't much. I lost a lot of weight, very fast! Not a good idea.

Although I was not eating properly, I unintentionally stumbled upon 
one of the missing factors needed to succeed in a sound conditioning
program. Are you ready? You can't dance it off! An over all 
reduction in calorie intake is necessary to reduce body fat  
Profound, uh?

I'd never recommend taking that route - it's painful and very 
unhealthy. The body loses more muscle and preserves the fat for 
survival because it thinks you're starving. Thin may be in when
you have your clothes on but a size 1 after 4 kids, after being 
a size 16, looks pretty sad naked.

Stephen, my one and only real husband says that I'm driven. Maybe 
that's why I kept going. The fear of how divorce would affect my 
kids, how I was going to feed them, how would I keep my ex-husband 
from keeping his promise to kill me if I ever left, or from 
stealing the kids and hiding them from me, was unbearably stressful.
That's when I discovered strength training. I truly loved it! My 
family had always said that I was stubborn. They just didn't 
recognize determination when they saw it. Now I had a positive 
place to use it.

Silly as it may sound, the television show, The American Gladiators, 
stirred up an excitement I hadn't felt before. It just felt right 
for me, to be strong, with a hard body. Maybe get something back that 
I had given away. Little did I know that I would surpass, by far, 
my own expectations. For now, my body is not only hard and very 
strong, it's a safer place to live. That's a statement that many 
women will understand. Strength training has allowed me to develop 
a greater inner strength and the realization that I belong to me 
and not to an abuser.

At 102lbs, I joined a small, women only gym and did my best to 
figure it out. Since I wanted to look like a hard bodied woman without 
looking masculine, I did the recommended light weight, high rep, 
forever and forever, hour and a half, do I have to do my abs every 
day, work out. Four days a week! I had to beg, borrow and steal just
to get time to go. Since the gym was a half hour north from my house 
and my, NEW, full time job was an hour drive south, 4 kids the job
and trying not to loose my marbles, I'd say I did well to stick with 
that for about a year.

Then, this is where it gets good. I discovered a Nautilus gym almost 
next door to where I worked. I booked an appointment with a personal
trainer for an orientation. I have to back way up for a moment. When
I was a little girl with little girl legs my brother would ask me, 
"are those your knees or are you smuggling door knobs?" We'd even 
pretend that you could grab them and turn them like doorknobs.

Anyway, with that beautiful childhood memory stuck somewhere in the
back of my mind, I walked into the Nautilus for my appointment. From 
across the foyer came a handsome, kind of rugged looking man. He 
began by telling me that his name was Stephen and that he was going 
to be my trainer. 

Stephen was recently certified as a Nautilus trainer and was a 
avid pupil of Mike Mentzer. One of Stephen's favorite quotes 
still is, "there are no experts, only ardent students." So my 
first training sessions were the standard Nautilus work outs... 
twelve exercises incorporating all major muscle groups, one set 
to failure. 

The workouts were awesome! I'd never felt anything so intense 
and rewarding. It gave me such a sense of accomplishment. This 
time, my hard work was for me. The realization that I was
stronger, more powerful, more determined than even I'd realized.

Stephen's constant reading of every Mike Mentzer publication 
brought him to question the possibility that we were still over 
training. Being open to the idea, (because it came from Mike)
that less may be best, Stephen dropped to a two times a week 
program. Training the entire body in each session.

Click Here For more info on Mike Mentzer and High Intensity Training

Being skeptical, I followed a few weeks later after seeing a 
significant improvement in his body. After over 20 years of 
lifting weights, this reduction brought about such dramatic
improvements in his physique, I thought I'd better try it. 

Now we had proof that Heavy Duty training worked. We entered 
several contests, including the couples class with good to 
excellent success, never leaving without a trophy. There were 
many other steps along the way. We've seen many changes both 
in the industry and in our bodies.

We both train one day a week, the entire body. Stephen's 
routine includes the Hammer Strength Leg Press,Hack Squat, 
Cable Row, Dips and Abs. Then the alternating week, Dead Lift, 
Bar Dips, Biceps Curl (done due to degenerated cartilage in 
his shoulders), Calf Raise and Abs.

My routine includes Hammer Strength Leg Press, (my favorite) 
Hack Squat, (sumo stance, for that no-man's land inner thigh 
area, that Mike says isn't necessary but I still haven't 
given up) 11-14 Pull Ups, 10 degree chest, (because I have 
to have cleavage up to my chin!) or Hammer Strength Wide Chest, 
Biceps Curls, Over head Press, Calves and Abs.

The alternating week is the same for legs with the addition of 
a hyper extension, because I have degenerated vertebrae and 
can't Dead Lift. Pull Ups, Stiff Arm Lever, Wide Chest, Biceps 
and Abs.

We have concluded that a balance of stimulation, recovery and 
nutrition are critical for maximum human performance. Reasoning 
is the most important function of the mind and mental approach 
governs all action. What you believe is your reality therefore 
it is necessary to examine your beliefs.

Recent statistics show that 51% of all new gym members are women. 
It would be great to see Heavy Duty training information available 
in more widely read publications than body building magazines? 
Perhaps something that women would read. Our experience has been 
that women grasp the Heavy Duty training concepts much more 
readily than men. They usually have no preconceived mythological 
concepts to overcome.

While I'm somewhat opinionated, I haven't given up on people. 
You shouldn't either.

Reprinted with permission of Exercise Protocol.  

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