Weight training really opened doorways to a new level of self  discovery and passion my life!

After the birth of my second child, I remember looking down at my tummy and feeling horrified that it looked just like a ‘deflated camel’s hump’! I thought to myself “I’ll never get this flat again!” – That’s when I decided to take up Weight Training.

I started going to the gym three times a week and I soon began to notice a great difference and it wasn’t long before my tummy was flat again – phew!!

What I personally like about weight training is the fact that it gives you results – FAST. This is because it works directly on each muscle group. It’s great for re-shaping your body as you can chose exactly which areas you wish to work on and to what level. You can certainly achieve the toned look, whilst still retaining your feminine curves.

By the way ladies, don’t worry that you will start to put on muscle as soon as you pick up a weight – IT’S VERY UNLIKELY. It takes a great deal of hard work and dedication to gain any significant amount of extra muscle, if you are a woman… we just don’t generally have the hormones for it! It’s pretty much down to genetics! Fortunately for me, my father was ‘well built’ – he was a gymnast when he was younger and then later, he also played professional rugby for Scotland! I guess I was born with his genetics. I was really sporty when I was a kid – and crazy about gymnastics and springboard diving. Because of this, I even had a six pack back then! haha!

Genetics, dedication, hard work and sheer determination are what enabled me to compete- as a mum of two – in bodybuilding and win, without the use of steroids.

Incidentally, the bodybuilding photos in my gallery, show what it is like to be in ‘competition shape’. Not only does it take months / years of training to become muscular, but it also takes 6 – 8 weeks of strict, pre-contest dieting to get down to such low levels of body fat. It may not look particularly ‘attractive’ to a lot of people – I never thought so either! But then, competitive Bodybuilding is about showing ‘built’ and defined muscles with minimum body fat! Believe me, that is not what I looked like when I wasn’t competing – Weight training doesn’t always have to be about building a muscular physique… These days, I prefer to use weights to keep my body toned and strong… but a little more ‘shapely’! I hope this clarifies the difference between Bodybuilding and general Weight Training!

One last point… The photographs of ‘muscle-bound’ men and women that you see in bodybuilding magazines, are often the result of a ‘chemically assisted diet’…shall we say.  In other words, their results may not have been achieved entirely naturally. But hey, – each to his/her own! – and it has to be said, that even with the assistance of drugs, it requires a HUGE amount of work and dedication to achieve those incredible physiques!

While we are dispelling myths... Another common one that I have heard many times over the years is: “But if I stop training, won’t my muscles turn into fat?” – NO WAY – it’s IMPOSSIBLE – fat cells and muscle cells are entirely different in structure. It’s like saying, “my hair will turn into my teeth” – it just AINT GOING TO HAPPEN! One simply cannot turn into the other… I think I’ve made my point!

What will happen however, is that if you have been consuming a certain amount of calories and training regularly – and then you STOP training, but STILL carry on consuming the same amount of calories, you are going to start putting on a layer of fat over the muscle. Also, if you stop exercising your muscles they will naturally begin to soften and ‘shrink’ in size, through lack of use.

- So no worries there either!

Now, speaking of diet… If you are after a lean ‘sculpted’ body, exercise without attention to a good calorie controlled diet has its limitations. Therefore, combining the right diet with an exercise plan is crucial to achieving health and a low level of body fat. It is true what they say… ‘you are what you eat’, therefore it is important to make sure that a sound, nutritionally balanced diet becomes part of your everyday life. – Make a habit of it, you’ll be glad you did!

To emphasize the importance of diet, I remember, years ago attending a local aerobics class. The lady who took the class was very overweight, even though she ran these classes three times a week, for an hour and a half!.. To give her credit, her cardiovascular fitness was probably fairly good. However, this just goes to illustrate, that if you don’t pay attention to your diet, no matter how much exercise you do, you may never lose that excess body fat.

Let me explain... There are two types of exercise, AEROBIC and ANAEROBIC (weight training). Both are effective methods of obtaining a lean, toned body (with the right diet of course).

However, when it comes to exercise, according to the experts, Anaerobic exercise (weight training), beats Aerobic exercise, at calorie burning – every time!

Why? Many people believe that aerobic exercise burns only fat and that the longer the periods of aerobic exercise, the more fat calories will be burned up. The truth of the matter is, that after approximately 90 minutes of aerobic (cardiovascular) exercise, the body begins to burn muscle as well.

Not only this, but over a period of time, the body adapts to the exercise by adjusting itself and becoming more efficient. i.e. it begins to burn less calories for the same amount of ‘output’.

What happens, is the body’s metabolism (the rate at which calories are burned) starts to slow down. This means that the body decreases its release of enzymes and hormones that help to get rid of unwanted fat from the cells. Consequently, fewer calories are burned as a result of this.

As you can imagine, this is his highly detrimental to getting the results you were after! The key to losing body fat is to INCREASE your metabolic rate, NOT lower it!

So why is weight training different? Below is an extract from Chris Aceto’s book ‘Everything You Need To Know About Fat Loss’…Chris is a nutritional and bodybuilding expert and a nutritional consultant to celebrities and top athletes, he also writes for ‘Muscle & Fitness’ and ‘Flex’ magazine…

Chris says…

“The real way to change the body, to lose fat and to keep it off and the sole way to radically increase your metabolism is to make weight training the primary mode of exercise – coupled with a nutrition plan that inhibits fat storage adding muscle mass bumps up the metabolic rate, something aerobic exercise cannot do. Your lean body mass (the total amount of muscle) you carry, is directly correlated with ‘how many’ calories you use up each day and ‘how lean’ you can ultimately become. Weight training is totally unique and incomparable to aerobic exercise. While aerobics may initially be a good way to burn some extra calories, we’ve seen the ‘calorie burn’ slows with time. With weight training, the adaptation is an increase in muscle mass which increases the metabolism.

  • Aerobics only: The metabolism downgrades!
  • Weight Training only: The metabolism upgrades!”

Another interesting point in the ‘aerobics vs. weight training debate’, is that when a person trains with weights, the tiny muscle fibres are ‘torn’ under the pressure. The body then requires extra fuel to repair them, making them stronger and larger to cope with the increased workload. This means that the body continues to burn calories long after the workout has finished!

This is not however, the case with aerobics. The moment the exercise stops, the net calorie burning ceases i.e. – no more calories are burned as a direct result of the exercise session.

It is a fact that the more lean muscle mass a person carries, the more efficient at burning calories the body can become. This is because adding muscle increases basal metabolism.

So there you have it, you can take your choice, I know which one I prefer!

Weight training has definitely helped me to keep my body in shape – I’d recommend it to anyone who is keen to slow down the ageing process!

Rowan Duxbury Background / Qualifications

Rowan is a former ‘natural’ Bodybuilding Champion and twice winning contender on TVs’ ‘GLADIATORS’ Series. Rowan has worked as a ‘Screening Consultant’ (Fitness Assessor), Personal Trainer and Motivator. She is a qualified Weight Training Instructor with the British Weight Lifting Association.

Bodybuilding Titles

  • 1984 – Miss South West Coast Lightweight Champion
  • 1985 – Miss Exeter
  • 1992 – Sidmouth Spring Classic Women’s (under 52kg) Champion
  • 1992 English Riviera (under 52kg) Champion
  • 1992 Natural Miss Wales (under 52kg) Champion
  • + Best Posing Routine & Womens Overall Champion