CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Dear Cindy,
I want to have great arms. I'm 37 and have a 2- and a 4-year-old. Summer is not far off, and I want to take my kids to the pool. I dread showing my arms; they are flabby and not attractive. I need to lose some weight and I fear that if I do, they will be even flabbier. I just want firm arms but not big arms. If I lift heavy weights, they will get even bigger and I'll gain weight. Any advice? -- Jenna
I love your questions because it gives me the chance once again to dispel common misconceptions about fitness training. Misinformation does nothing but keep people from making progress and reaching their goals. Problem with these old beliefs is that they are hard to kill. Here goes another attempt to put them to rest.
Myth: I just do cardio so I can have a lean body. If I lift, I lift light so I don't bulk up.
Fact: Cardio is not going to cut it. If you want lean, sexy arms, you need to strength train like a man. No, that doesn't mean lifting the same amount of weight, but it does mean lifting heavy enough to create the same challenge to the muscle.
Light weights and lots of reps will get you right where you are right now. Consider this: You lift children who weigh 20-plus pounds, so why would you think lifting a 3- to 5-pound weight is going to change your body? Are you worried that you will build giant muscles? You won't, unless you're taking steroids and lifting massive weights for hours in a gym, and I would never advocate that.
Myth: Cardio work is all I have time for, and I want to burn calories and have a strong heart.
Fact: Cardio's great, but it can only do so much. Logging countless hours on the elliptical will give you a strong heart, but it's not going to do a thing for your upper body. Want enviable arms? Jump off the cardio machines after 30 minutes and start pushing some weight -- not "girl weights," but weights that will challenge your arms. Strength training like this is time efficient, will burn calories 24/7 and will give you the body you're dying for.