As a fitness professional, I enjoy seeing others reach their fitness goals — weight loss, gaining strength, revving up their cardio, etc.

I am especially happy to see more women are discovering the benefits of weight training. Despite those benefits, some women still shy away from weight-based regimes.

If you need evidence that weight training works, look no further than entertainer Janet Jackson — the 51-year-old new mom who is already back on her concert tour. She looks amazing. And when I recently learned that she credits weight training for her post-baby physique, I shouted hooray!

Jackson’s trainer, Paulette Sybliss, recently told Essence magazine that the singer/actress did “no conventional cardio whatsoever” as she battled to shed those baby pounds.

“I didn’t just want her to lose weight; I wanted her to drop body fat,” Sybliss was quoted as saying. “I wanted her to look fit and be fit as well.”

Sybliss said she is working to re-educate women about the benefits of weight training.


“Women typically think, I’m gonna get big, I’m gonna get bulky, and they will not,” she said. “When the body has to use muscle, not only does it burn fat during the session, but also after.”

And there’s more.

A well-rounded, weight-training program also can…

— combat fat – It increases lean body mass, helping the body burn calories.

— lessen back pain – It helps core muscles become stronger, relieving pressure on the spine.

— fight osteoporosis — This bone disease affects women more often than men. Lifting weights helps strengthen those bones.

— assist movement – Stronger muscles allow the body to more easily perform everyday tasks, from sitting to standing to walking.

— lower risk of diabetes — The World Health Organization says lifting weights for 150 minutes each week (five 30-minute sessions), lowers the risk by 34 percent.

Are you ready to add weights to your fitness program? Here are three exercises I like. (Before starting, check with your doctor.):

Bicep Curls

1. Stand with feet hip-width apart, holding dumbbells at sides, palms facing forward.

2. Keeping elbows tight to sides, slowly and steadily curl (lift) dumbbells up to shoulders without touching shoulders.

3. Slowly lower dumbbells to sides to return to starting position.

Aim for 10 reps.

Dumbbell Row

1. Stand with feet hip-width apart, upper body hinged forward with a flat back, and knees slightly bent, holding dumbbells in front of shins with palms facing in.

2. Slowly row (pull) dumbbells up next to ribs, pulling elbows straight back.

3. Lower dumbbells to starting position.

Aim for 10 reps.

Dumbbell Shoulder Press

1. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart.

2. Slowly raise arms shoulder height (palms facing forward) and press dumbbells overhead, rotating palms to face forward, dumbbells directly over shoulders.

3. Bend elbows and lower dumbbells to shoulders, rotating palms to face in.

4. Squat back on the bench to return to starting position

Aim for 10 reps.

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Sondra E. Z. Hines is an AFAA-certified group fitness instructor, Zumba instructor, workshop presenter and motivational speaker. A former adjunct professor, she has 15-plus years as a fitness instructor...