I'm tired of having next to no upper body strength, but I'd like to stay lean. What is the best way for women to strengthen their arms without bulking up?
It's extremely hard for women to bulk up, unless you're being lazy with your cardio and pounding protein drinks or steroids. In all seriousness though, sometimes we do overuse certain muscle groups. We find exercises or routines we like and we do them over and over. The best way to avoid this is to change up your workout as often as possible.
Just as a body builder does, if you load up exclusively with a lot of weights, more muscle will build, creating more mass. Balance out your strength workouts with weight and reps, using some exercises to increase your muscular strength and others to increase your muscular endurance.
For instance, on Tuesday plan to perform a chest press: 3 sets of 8-10 reps, and gradually increase the amount of weight. This is building muscular strength. On Thursday, take the same exercise and perform it with lighter weights, or even perhaps a resistance band. Time yourself for 30-60 seconds and see how many reps you can perform (with perfect technique of course). This is endurance work. By creating a balance in your body, you will create lean muscle mass. Keep a record of your workouts and vary your exercises and the muscle groups you work on.
Sara Haley (SaraFitness.com) is a Fitness DVD Personality, Master Trainer and Creative Consultant for Reebok.