Pat Henry: Muscle versus skinny
Feel the burn
The idea that training with weights will turn you into a muscle-bound freak is a total fallacy. The benefits have been proven to outweigh any other form of exercising, including aerobics, for burning body fat.
The more solid and firm muscle tissue you have, the more fat you burn simply to maintain lean muscle. You can't turn fat into muscle, or muscle into fat, as fat is fat. But as weight training starts to tone the body the fat will be used for energy rather than muscle. Weight training also increases your metabolic rate, which burns more calories well after your training session is over.
So stop worrying about getting huge muscles, this will not happen. Instead feel the difference when your body feels firmer, clothes fit better, and the wobbly bits are less wobbly! And remember, age is no barrier: muscles can be toned well into your 80s and 90s, so go for it.
All for free weights
Most gyms have a large amount of very impressive-looking machines, with each station being used for individual body parts. A world famous bodybuilder once said some machines are as big as a German tank, and you would get more benefit trying to lift a tank than some of these machines. Their movement is very restricted, going only one way. With free weights, dumbbells and barbells you can change the angle of the exercise by simply turning your wrist to get a more connected pump to the muscle. I believe free weights give a more overall pleasing look to the body, so I would recommend free weights.
The 'new skinny'
'Strong is the new skinny' is the new trend among young women. By all means get strong, but girls are trying to get a six-pack and very low body fat. It is neither healthy nor attractive when you see girls with paper-thin skin with veins popping. As an international judge at the Mr and Mrs Universe competitions, I would always look for tone and shape, not an over-the-top muscled look. It is very difficult to get low body fat. It involves a restricted diet all year round: no bread, low carbs, no sugar, no alcohol, as well as hours of training. Normal body fat is 20pc. If a six-pack is your target, be careful and stay away from pills and steroids, it's not worth it.
Health & Living