The Importance of Strength Training for Women
It’s a strong belief that men can maintain a healthy weight and lose weight easier than women and women quite reasonably are annoyed by this fact. Consider though men have more muscle mass because of their hormone testosterone and they lift heavy objects. Muscle is more metabolically active than fat so the number of calories burned throughout the day increases. So the quandary here is the misconception that lifting any more than light weights makes women bulky, heavy, and unfeminine. This untruth has been circulating for decades, and it needs to be buried in the archives along with the other myth that muscle turns to fat when you stop weight training. A small percentage of women can add mass from relatively light weights because of their hormonal makeup, but the vast majority of women lack the hormonal component. Strength training makes a leaner, stronger more defined female body.
Yoga, Pilates, cardio, and sports activities are all essential for fitness and health but adding a full body strength training routine is vital to complete fitness and health. Being involved in just one fitness discipline can lead to muscle imbalances and injuries. Strength training with weights that challenge the muscles to grow increases muscular endurance decreases boredom and reduces the risk of injuries. Strength training makes for a healthier mind and body.
Boost the Metabolism
Adding muscle from strength training burns more calories than any other body tissue even when the body is sedentary. Weight training should be done 2-3x a week and should involve large muscle groups. Compound exercises that involve large muscles (think legs, chest, and back) are results oriented and give a big bang for the time spent. To build muscle, the muscle has to be significantly challenged. Training sessions can last anywhere from 20 minutes to 45 minutes. Think squats, lunges, push-ups, bench presses, deadlifts, lat pull downs, chin ups, glute bridges, and bird dogs.
Increased Strength and Function
It’s not a must to have super strength, but it’s great to be able to do all the activities of daily living with ease. From activities as essential as climbing stairs, walking, lifting groceries and carrying babies to athletic activities such as skiing, tennis, golfing and obstacle course challenges, adding strength training plays a vital role.
Gym machines are excellent devices, but they are devices that support the body. Functional exercise is designed, so the body is supported by its’ framework and muscles. Whether standing, using a stability ball or exercising on a TRX suspension trainer the body is working as the muscles are stretching and contracting and the core muscles are firing. Stability training for improving balance is done on an unstable surface. Gym machines make you stronger and definitely should be used however the body gets efficient at pushing and pulling in a stationary position. Daily life activities are walking, squatting, lunging, stooping, bending, and pivoting. Exercise should reflect that. Functional training and gym machines can both be used for optimal training.
Mind and Body Health Benefits
Resistance training reduces the risk of developing adult-onset diabetes, What’s more, The American Diabetes Association recommends that people with type 2 diabetes start strength training to help with blood sugar control.
Strength training lowers the risk of heart disease and can lower blood pressure. Osteoarthritis is painful and can limit the activities of daily living. However, weight loss reduces the pain on the affected joint and strength training of the muscles around the affected joint reduces the pressure on the joint and also reduces the pain.
Menopausal and post-menopausal women respond to weight training in a substantial way. Bone density, weight, body fat percentage, and blood pressure are all improved with strength training. Current research shows that weight training has a positive impact on anxiety, memory, and depression. Always talk to your doctor before beginning a new exercise program. Also, while exercising has great benefits for the body, if done incorrectly and without knowledge, certain medical conditions can be exacerbated. In these instances, it is wise to consult and work with a certified personal trainer with CPR knowledge and liability insurance.
Posture and Stress
Shunning the weight room from fear of dumbbells and barbells is common for some women. But don’t run from those weights…embrace them for the life-altering benefits they possess! With sedentary jobs and hunching over our ‘devices’ being the norm, gravity is taking a very visible toll on posture, and it is no longer only the elderly that are on a downward posture spiral. Rounded shoulders and bad posture have been shown to increase stress levels in both sexes and decrease testosterone production in males. What? Indeed, there is an easy way to test this. Stand up straight, feet about shoulder width apart, knees slightly bent, core braced, chest lifted and shoulders rotated down and shoulder blades together. Feeling powerful and more in control? Now- go back to slumping. With push ups, back rows, and back extensions, we can all stand taller, confident and happier.
Strength Training Your way
There are a myriad of reasons to ‘buff that body.’ Be it physical health, mental health, weight loss, stress reduction or plain and simple aesthetics and wanting to look awesome, make it a part of you weekly routine 2-3 times a week. Workouts can be at a gym, in the home, with your family or you can join or start a fit ‘tribe’ with your friends. Workouts should be dynamic, fun and results driven. Do it for yourself and your loved ones…you’re worth it!