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Women, Ski Racing and Weight Lifting (Guest Post)


Hey, all! Hope your summer is going magnificently, that you’re not collapsing under seasonitus and your perpetual longing for fresh powder and winter, and that you’re training a little bit for next ski racing season–and having a ton of fun, too!

With this blog post, we’re doing something special. We’ve invited Garrett Conley, who was a ski instructor for many years and an alpine ski racing coach, to be a guest blogger. He is currently a personal trainer, which makes him the perfect person to write about the crossing between fitness and ski racing. Better yet, you’ll learn the top training secrets of somebody who intimately knows the ski racing world.
Garrett Conley photo
>Enter: Garrett Conley.

As a personal trainer, the top two questions I ask my women clients are:

1. When you want to lose weight, what do you do?

2. When you want to build muscle, what do you do?
Without hesitation, they respond that when they want to lose fat, they start doing more cardio. When they want to build muscle, well naturally, they weight train. Seems to make sense right? Cardio burns off calories; weight training makes you gain weight. How accurate is this, though? Could weight training be used for fat loss?

You bet.

Falling for this common misconception is one of the biggest mistakes women athletes make and  it will not only hinder your progress, but I feel it will leave you not looking, feeling, or performing like you hoped.

The first reason I am going to give weight training a point in the fat loss wars against cardio training is due to the calorie burn after the workout is completed. Studies have demonstrated that after a weight training workout, the metabolism can be boosted for up to 36 hours post-workout. Meaning rather than burning say 60 calories an hour while sitting and watching TV, you’re burning 70. While you may think, ‘Oh big deal, its just 10 extra calories’, when you multiply this by 36 hours, you can see what a huge difference that makes in your daily calorie expenditure over that day and a half.

With cardio training, you might get an extra 30-70 calories burned after a moderate paced session, and this will depend upon the exact intensity and duration of the workout. Also, treadmills with a resistance level that is low, takes longer to burn calories for an elongated period of time. In order to generate a high amount of post-calorie burn from aerobics, you’d have to be doing it for a very long duration of time, and typically individuals who are capable of doing such a thing, don’t need to be concerned with fat loss in the first place, they are preparing for marathons or long distance runs.

“But I want to tone and shape my body.”

Another big benefit that weight training has over cardio training is that it will completely allow you to reshape your body. Cardio training generally will help you lose weight, however, this weight loss is going to be a bit of a combination between fat and muscle; so what that means is what you’re left with is a smaller version of your current self.

As a ski racer, a smaller version of yourself isn’t necessary going to win you races. In fact, the muscle density will be supremely beneficial in your ski racing. So, don’t stop squatting!

When you are performing resistance training instead while following a hypocaloric diet, you stand a better chance of losing strictly body fat. This lends for a great and attractive physique, and a very powerful body fit for a race cource. It will give you a much better overall transformation than if you just lost weight doing cardio. If you’ve ever noticed someone who has lost a considerable amount of weight but still looks somewhat ‘soft’, that’s usually why. They have lost some fat, but at the same rate, their muscles aren’t overly toned, hence they don’t give off the same type of appearance. You don’t wanna be soft, do ya??

“But Garrett, if I lift more weights, I will be bulky, and I don’t want that” One thing that should be mentioned at this point is that many women will shy away from lifting weights, particularly going
heavier with them (more than 5-10 pounds) simply because they believe that doing so causes them to develop rippling muscles that give off too masculine of a look.

This is a massive misconception because the fact of the matter is that females do not have enough testosterone in their body to develop this degree of musculature naturally, plus in order to build that type of muscle even with testosterone present, a huge deal of food must be consumed. Like massive quantities, ladies and gentlemen.

What lifting heavy weights will do though is raise  metabolic rate, promote greater fat burning, and help give you more definition when you do lose any body fat. As you can see, what most women fear is actually what they should be doing. So, make sure you’re not making that mistake!

Finally, one point does have to go to cardio for health benefits. Obviously strength training will have health benefits as well, but cardio training will have a bigger influence on cardiovascular health.

So, while you likely shouldn’t entirely eliminate cardio from your training program, you should be putting forth good effort towards weight training as well. Overlooking this form of exercise while playing the fat loss game is a big mistake that’s going to hurt your progress, and inevitably, your performance.

It’s time to break free from the thinking that cardio equates to fat loss and weight training equates to building muscle and weight gain. It’s simply not as clear cut as that and often the biggest difference between fat loss and muscle building is more related to diet than anything. So let’s start some changes ladies!

(Editor’s note: Garrett makes great, biologically backed points. However, you should balance cardio and weight training for maximum efficiency on the race course. Want to know one quick way to do this? Read our article for a primer on kettlebell training for ski racers. Best of luck!)

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