The benefits of resistance training in competitive and recreational athletes are well documented. However, this is just beginning to catch on in women’s fitness. Perhaps the fear of “bulking up” has been a deterrent. Luckily, perceptions are changing, and women everywhere are discovering the incredible benefits of strength training.
Here are four excellent reasons women, at any stage and any age should make weight lifting a part of their fitness life.
You Will Shape Up, Not Bulk Up
Lifting weights can tighten and tone your body all over. If you are not interested in competing for a weight lifting or bodybuilding competition, don’t worry, resistance training can be used to achieve aesthetic goals as well as strength goals.
You Will Burn More Calories
Strength and resistance training increase your lean body mass, which increases the number of calories burned during the day. Want to make all those “steps” you measure mean something? Burn more calories with each step you take, simply by increasing your percentage of lean muscle. Lifting weights can promote the release of your body’s natural fat burning hormones, and give your metabolism a boost.
You Will Lessen The Risk Of Injuries
Resistance training is suggested to decrease the risk for muscle, back, bone, and connective tissue injuries, and perhaps reduce the severity of these types of injuries should they occur. As the functional abilities of the joints are improved through increased muscle support, the risk of damage in those areas is significantly reduced.
Muscle imbalance is something that increases as we age and muscles atrophy or lose mass disproportionately. This factor is well documented as a leading cause of falls that result from injury.
You Will Slow Bone Loss
Women begin to lose bone mass in their early 30s, and bone loss is at its greatest just after menopause. Osteoporosis is a disease characterized by poor bone density. It affects women at a rate of 3:1 over men. It is estimated that a bone fracture resulting from osteoporosis occurs every three seconds, worldwide.
Bone is a living tissue and as such, it can structurally adapt to physical stressors that are imposed on it, such as weight. Bone mass can increase in response to other types of training programs. However, a report from the American College of Sports Medicine suggests that resistance training can provide a significant effect on increasing bone mineral density.
Strength Training Tips For Women
- Train with enough weight and enough intensity
This amount will vary with each woman. A good rule is if you are doing reps, the last one should be tough to complete with correct form. If it isn’t, you need to up your intensity or weight.
- Train with regularity and rest
You can choose a routine that includes a whole body workout with intervals for rest, or off-days. Alternatively, you can split your workout into upper body and lower body days, still maintaining a day of rest. This rest allows the muscle to build and prevents strain and injury from overuse.
- Train with proper technique
It is a good idea to train with a professional the first few times you lift weights. He or she can watch you perform the various lifts and correct any bad form right away. Correct form is essential to safe and effective strength training. You should “feel the burn” in the muscle you are targeting. If you feel burning or pressure in other muscles or joints, you are likely making an error in form and should stop immediately. Avoid the temptation to correct form mid-rep. This could cause instability and risk injury.
By adding the proper weight training exercises to your workout routine, you can easily achieve a more toned physique. Additionally, you will be reducing your likelihood of injury by increasing your muscle strength. The best strength training benefit for women is perhaps its positive effect of maintaining and increasing bone mass, mineral content, and overall bone strength.