7 reasons why women should do strength training
By Meisha-Gay Mattis
Mention strength training to the average woman — even those who work out regularly — and you’ll probably hear statements like, “I don't want to be bulky,” or “I don't want to look like a man.” I’ve even had people tell me that it might be difficult for me to have a child because I lift heavy weights at the gym, which just leaves me bursting with laughter.
Whatever their reasoning, most women tend to shy away from strength training. Instead, they limit themselves to an aerobics or spinning class, or just stick to the treadmill or whatever cardio machine is available. I’ve had to explain to several female clients that it’s actually very difficult for a woman who does moderate strength training to look like a bodybuilder. It takes a great deal of diet modification and other substances to even be a bodybuilder. Most importantly, a woman’s body simply does not produce enough testosterone to develop very large, “manly” looking muscles.
More women are now stepping out the shadows and understanding how crucial strength training is for the body, and that it’s not “unladylike” to lift weights. Still in doubt? Maybe these seven benefits will convince you.
1. Stronger Bones
Everyone loses bone mass as they get older, but the loss begins earlier and at a greater rate in women than in men. Women may lose, on average, about 53 per cent of their peak bone mass by the age of 80 years. In contrast, men may lose, on average, about 18 per cent of their peak bone mass by the same age. (Fundamental Biomechanics of Sport and Exercise By James Watkins).
Physical activity is crucial in helping to build stronger bones and delay the onset of bone density loss, and strength training actually helps to improve bone density. The higher the peak bone density mass, the lower the risk of osteoporosis. Several studies have indicated a positive correlation between strength training and stronger bones.
2. Better performance of daily activities
I’m always of the belief that whatever physical activity or exercise you do should enable you to perform better at the activities of daily living. For example, being able to carry your groceries, or getting your luggage off the carousel at the airport, or lifting it to the overhead compartment on an aeroplane. This all requires some level of strength, and strength training will undoubtedly have you performing these tasks with ease. Also, a well balanced strength training routine helps to improve posture, which consequently leads to injury prevention.
3. Quicker pregnancy recovery
Forget the myth of not being able to have a child because you lift weights. How about a quicker ‘snap back’ after baby instead? Women who strength train are more likely to recover quickly from pregnancy than those who don't. They also endure shorter labours with less complication.*
4. Burn more calories in your sleep
Leaner muscles result in you burning calories at a faster rate or pace while inactive. This is referred to as rest metabolic rate. So sleep has double the benefits for women who strength train.
5. Burn more fat
Weight training is not just for adding muscles and bulking up. It’s also a major fat burner when compared to cardiovascular activities like running, which burns both fat and muscles. Additionally, weight training burns fat even after you’re done exercising.
6. Enhances Curves
No matter how few your curves, you can enhance them by adding weight training to your regimen to build lean muscles mass.
7. Maintain Muscle Mass
Muscle makes you look strong and supple. As we get older, we tend to lose muscle mass, women even more so than men. Pumping iron on a regular basis, at least two to three times weekly for 30-minute sessions is sufficient to build or maintain lean muscle. For optimum results, couple weight training with cardiovascular training.
* Price BB, Amini SB, Kappeler K. (2012). Exercise in pregnancy: effect on fitness and obstetric outcomes-a randomized trial. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise.
Contributed by Meisha-Gay Mattis, founder of Bodhi, a Kingston-based holistic wellness company. She is a certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach and Personal Fitness Trainer. Email email@example.com for more information or visit any of the following
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