Belly Dancers - Weights Should Be Your BFF!
Lifting weights (strength training) is one of the best things a belly dancer can do for your overall health. Contrary to a popular misconception, lifting weights will not make a woman bulky or muscle-bound. Women simply do not have enough naturally occurring testosterone to increase their muscles to match a bodybuilder’s physique.
Belly dance costumes are designed to show the movements of the dance; they can also reveal a good bit of skin. Strength training can help give a dancer a lean and healthy look. Working the triceps can help tighten flabby upper arms, abdominal work can help tone the belly, but strength training does more than just improve the body’s physical appearance. Stronger muscles can help eliminate muscle fatigue. A dancer might find she is able to hold her veil overhead longer, or bend down further with level changes, or simply dance longer without exhaustion.
Strength training can help you lose weight, and no, you don’t need to lose weight before you start working with weights. Lifting weights in combination with dieting helps burn calories faster. Many women who are dieting and lifting weights in tandem get discouraged by the numbers on the scale because as you build lean muscle mass, the numbers may remain the same or they may go up. Working with weights while you diet will help your body retain the muscle it has and ensure that what you are losing is body fat.
Remember, there are factors other than a number on a scale. Gauge how your clothes fit and take your measurements regularly; even if the scale says the same thing, if you are dieting and lifting weights, they will change. Adding strength training helps your body lose body fat and weight better than a diet alone.
Strength training also raises your metabolism. The more lean muscle mass you have, the more calories you will burn, even when your muscles are at rest. A pound of muscle burns more calories per day than that same pound of fat and takes up less space within the body, so you’ll slim down while you build strength. Increasing muscle mass also improves strength and balance as well as bone density--very important as you grow older to help decrease the risk of osteoporosis and improve balance.
In order to be effective, strength training must be done on a regular basis. Three times a week is a good rule. It will take some time before you see results, so don’t get discouraged. The end result will be worth it.
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