You’ll probably benefit most by using weights you can lift only a few times. While lifting light weights over and over will build muscular endurance, the real payoff of weight training — strong bones — seems to call for using weights that are heavy enough to tire you out pretty quickly.
While the ideal poundage varies from person to person, you can use fatigue as your guide. Aim for eight to 12 reps, and if you’re huffing and shaking by the last three, you’re in the right zone.
Of course many women are reluctant to take on big weights, believing that route leads to bulk. But they needn’t hold back: Women just don’t have enough testosterone in their bodies to impersonate Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Instead, a consistent lifting regimen of two or three sessions a week is likely to make your muscles shapely and slim — not bulging and bulky. And what’s even better than looking great in a tank top is having a tough, healthy skeleton that lets you stay active for decades to come.
It always bugs me when people dismiss yoga as exercise for wimps, since anyone who’s tried it knows there’s a lot more to it than deep breathing and stretches. Once you go beyond the basic relaxation poses, you enter the strength-training zone. Most moderately advanced yoga requires you to support the weight of your body with your arms or legs as you move from one pose to another. That’s why you’re feeling stronger.
Still, you’re right to wonder if you’re missing some pieces of the fitness puzzle. To stay lithe and energetic through the student life, you need just the right mix of flexibility, strength, and aerobic conditioning. You’ve definitely got the first base covered, and you have a good start on the second. But unless you zip through your routine at a sprinter’s pace, you simply aren’t getting the cardiovascular work you need. You could switch to astanga, or power yoga — a version that gets your heart thumping. But doesn’t that defeat the whole purpose of yoga? Stressing out the student problems?
Don’t ruin a good thing. I say stick with your current regimen and work in some short bursts of walking, running, or jumping rope. Also, to make sure you continue building strength with yoga, vary your routine with different classes or videos.