This Friday, I drove over to Rhode Island for the Perform Better Functional Training Summit. At this "hands-on seminar" top fitness and nutrition trainers and coaches told us their secrets to becoming a better trainer and a better athlete. Speakers such as Diane Vive, Lee Burton, Rachel Cosgrove, Alwyn Cosgrove, Mike Boyle, Anthony Diluglio and Thomas Plummer demonstrated and told us exactely how to get our clients and our businesses to be the best they could be.
Overall, the take-home message for me was that the future of weight-training is going to be a lot different than it is today.
We all know that weight-lifting is the best way to get the body you want without ruining your knees from hours of running or putting on a not-so-comfortable bathing suit to swim laps in a pool.
However, weight-lifting is so much more than the days of the great Arnold where bicep curls were done to impress the ladies. i.e. the saying "curls for the girls".....
Today, you can combine FUNCTIONAL weight-lifting movements into sets or supersets that will work not only increase your strength, but also increase the definition of your muscles (called "toning to some" and improve the functionality of your entire body (your cardiovascular system, along with your balance and agility). This prevents injury while making you look better than you ever did before. And that's what we all really want from exercise.
For women specifically though, weight-training comes with a sense of the unknown and the idea that it will make her big and bulky. Also, the one-on-one training of the past was boring, in addition to unconvincing that it would make a women's body look sexier and skinnier (A women can't understand that the same bench press that made her male trainer huge is going to make her skinnier.... ). These reasons explain WHY women constantly flock to aerobics classes and spin group fitness classes INSTEAD of signing up with a personal trainer. Women more so than men (even though it does apply to the male population too), enjoy working out with others and prefer not to be the center of attention. They want to get a good workout with others who are also sweating and breathing hard. That idea is much more attractive to them than being under the scruteny of a clip-board drill sargent.
So, for the future, you're going to see alot more small and large group weight-lifting sessions. Effective, functional-trained personal trainers are going to instruct groups of 3 to 10 men and women (more than 10 doesn't work when there are kettlebells or med balls flying around...) in smaller faclities using non-fixed, functional equipements such as sleds, ropes, dumbbells, ladders, cones and boxes. Women and men are going to use enough resistance to build muscle and become strong, but they'll do it with exercises that improve their everyday movement ability. They'll be less body-building and more sport-specific exercises so we can actually do something with our bodies, instead of just being muscular and big. The exercises will be strung together in sets rather than just being performed alone so the heart gets just as much of a workout as all the other big muscle groups and you increase your fat-burning potential.
In both my books, Women's Health Perfect Body Diet and The New Rules of Lifting for Women, the workout plans are strung together in sets and supersets so you get this increased fat-burning effect. The exercises are also more challenging than other typical weight-lifting plans because they involve using balance and core stability to activate more muscles and create more metabolic demand. Also, you can take these sets/supersets and do them with a friend or two so that you're working in a group and enjoying the burn with someone else. For example you'd do exercise A1 while your friend would do exercise A2. When you were done your reps for time or for prescribed number, you'd switch to the next in that set and keep going until the whole set/superset is done, and then go on to the next set of exercises. In this manner you'd challenge each other to lift more or push for another rep and you'd have more fun than working out alone. You'd still be doing so much more work than any aerobics class or Bodybar class you've ever been in and you'd be getting all the benefits that weight-lifting will give you.
Finally, like I said, the future of weight lifting will involve using more kettlebells, more med-balls, more rope climbs, more punching bags, more agility ladders, more box jumps, more functional body weight exercises like t-pushups, and one-arm chinups, and more movements that require less equipment and more challenges. This means that your home gym can consist of a few easy-to-get pieces of equipement or can be as simple as heading over to the local playground. You'll get rid of your bench press and replace it with it with something that requires less space, but gives you more bang for you buck.
Speaking of kettlebells, since this is now one of my favorite pieces of equipment (and I'm heading off right now to do an hour workout with these), check out this video from the new kettlebell superstar, Anthony Diluglio and tell me you don't think this isn't the coolest way to get lean and functional: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tZ8qWKsIVDA