Women should be strength training today
Strength training is any form of training that utilizes resistance to build muscle mass. However it carries the stigma of making you bulky or big which is far from the truth. Absolutely everybody- young, old, man or woman, can benefit from strength training. Unfortunately it has garnered a lot of misunderstanding that deters women in particular from heading to the dumbbells or weights.
Most women try to avoid strength training for fear that they will bulk up, but strength training is paramount to achieving definition in your legs, arms and everywhere else, giving the more toned physique so many people are after. Changes in your body type will improve your overall health and psychological wellbeing and should not be left out of your regime due to a common misconception.
Most of us know that strength training is important, but that doesn’t make it any easier to do it. It may help to know how important strength training is and the ways it can help you look and feel better.
- Improved fat loss
Most women spend hours upon hours on cardio based machines, banging away on a treadmill, to try and lose weight or reduce fat not realizing that strength training offers a much simpler solution. When lifting weights, you will build lean muscle. The more lean muscle you have, the quicker your metabolism will work.
This means that weight training will speed up your metabolism, and in turn, burn more calories, meaning a reduction in body fat and improved weight loss. Muscle tissue burns more calories, even when you are at rest, than body fat!
Strength training also helps reduce cellulite by smoothing those lumps and bumps. Firstly, most people understand cellulite wrong. Cellulite is not a simple build up of excess fat! The bumpy and lumpy appearance is due to excess fluid and fat cells pushing up against the skin over fibrous connective tissue bands.
Unfortunately, women are prone to cellulite due to specific hormones such as higher levels of estrogen and the way their fat cells and connective tissue is arranged relative to that of a man. So, does strength training help? Yes! Although strength training or no exercise for that matter can rid you completely of cellulite, it can certainly improve the appearance of cellulite.
- Reduces stress and enhances mood
Exercise and other physical activity produce endorphins which are chemicals in the brain that act as natural painkillers. Endorphins are well known to improve not only the quality but also the ability to sleep, which in turn reduces stress.
A recent study by JAMA Psychiatry states that strength training not only inflates muscles, but also improves your mood. They came to this conclusion by doing randomized clinical trials on over 1800 subjects. Their findings showed that people experiencing mild to moderate depression performing strength training two or more days a week, saw significant reductions in their symptoms, compared to people who do not.
- Gain strength without bulking
Women can’t grow new muscle tissue to the same degree as men do, due to lower testosterone levels. In general, women have about 15-20% less concentration of testosterone in their body than men do. Due to this women will develop muscle tone and definition without gaining size. In other words you are shaping your body and not making it bigger. The secret to a more toned and tighter body isn’t burning off every single calorie with cardio. It is in creating a solid, muscular base!
- Reduce your risk of injury, back pain and osteoporosis
Weight training not only strengthens muscles but also makes your bone structure stronger by increasing bone density. Weight training stresses your bones causing bone forming cells to nudge into action. That stress comes from the grinding, pushing and pulling on bone that occur during strength training.
The results are stronger, denser bones. This increase in bone density can reduce the risk of osteoporosis, fractures and broken bones. Strength training also increases joint stability and builds stronger connective tissue which as a result helps prevent injury by building up your resilience to external forces.
Strength training is also one of the most effective ways of correcting bad posture. By addressing bad posture we not only improve physical appearance but also reduce risk of underlying issues stemming from bad posture such as rounded shoulders causing back pain.
Back pain in itself is a major issue surrounding not only women but the general population as a whole. Bad posture and habits brought on by the more modern society can be to blame for most of our back issues and as such an intervention is necessary.
Strength training provides the solution as most back issues can be eliminated by strengthening the muscles of the core, glutes and back. Strengthening these muscles act as tightening of support cables around your spine to support and build a stronger back.
- Improving athletic performance
Weight training will help the body to adapt to everyday situations it will face during sport and also through everyday life. Building a stronger body makes one more efficient and capable when performing daily tasks and sport specific movements as you improve in aspects such as speed, agility, mobility and endurance.
- Reduce risk of chronic illness and heart disease
Because strength training increases lean muscle mass, it gives your cardiovascular system more pathways to send blood being pumped. This results in less pressure on your arteries, which reduces your risk of heart related problems.
Strength training also has a positive effect on lowering your cholesterol which is important as increased cholesterol levels lead to higher risk of heart attack and stroke. Interestingly new research has shown that volume of movement is just as important in reducing cholesterol as, or even more important, than the amount of weight being lifted.
Simply put the complex movements of strength training can be very beneficial to lower cholesterol regardless of the amount of weights being lifted. Women can lift smaller weights than men but still see the same reduction in cholesterol if the same complex movements are being replicated.
Diabetes is another major health concern that can be better managed by adding resistance training into your daily life. Physical activity is an important consideration in diabetes as the more weight you carry the more insulin you may need, thus weight management is key to reducing insulin levels.By including strength training in your routine you will build muscle as well as lower the risk of low blood sugar during exercise if you have type 1 diabetes.
- Strength training for pregnancy
One of the primary reasons most people train is to build a strong base or core. Strengthening the core of your body means the rest of your limbs can move about more freely without much difficulty. Doing the correct core exercises strengthens your torso and brings it together, and this gives you a stronger lower back, which can handle the strain of the additional weight being carried in front. Having a stronger lower back means less back pain and that alone is a concern that most women would be more than happy to avoid.
During pregnancy the body tends to stretch in all kinds of ways it has never before, and it could pretty easily pull a muscle in a strange location, let alone all the round ligament pain that can catch you off guard as you grow. During pregnancy the body releases a hormone called relaxin to allow the process to become easier, but sometimes it can put women more at risk for damage such as rolling an ankle while running.
If the body is strong it works together better which means it is less inclined to experience one of those strains, as the muscles work together as they are meant to, instead of isolated muscles taking all the load to try and compensate. Injury prevention at its best.
Working out for physical appearance is great, but there is a lot more to gain aside from sculpted arms and a toned stomach. The benefits of strength training for women go way beyond the waistline. Strength training can improve and enhance every part of your mind and body, from your immune system to your mental health. Considering all the above mentioned benefits one really can’t deny that strength training should be included in your daily training regime. Now it is time to get moving towards a better you!