We all know that including some kind of exercise into your life is important for kids, men and women of all ages and abilities However, oftentimes, including strength training is seen as a secondary component among women. I am always hearing “I think I need more cardio…” when I am speaking with women about what they believe they should be doing. I am a firm believer that strength training should not take a back seat in a women’s fitness repertoire and here are 5 of my top reasons why:
1. Strength Training is a great way to lose body fat.
Many women who are trying to lose weight believe that what is that they need to incorporate “cardio, cardio and then more cardio”. And while aerobic training certainly has its benefits, strength training can be a great way to lose weight, while maintaining lean muscle.
A common myth is that low intensity (i.e. more aerobic) training will burn more fat than high intensity activity (i.e. anaerobic.... Strength training). When talking straight fuel systems it is true that aerobic activity utilizes more carbohydrates than fats and anaerobic typically burns more carbohydrates than fats. A key point to note is that this refers only to what energy system is used DURING the activity. However, anaerobic activity; such as strength training, uses more total energy per minute of exercise (i.e. more calories burned), leads to more energy use within the subsequent hours after exercise (called EPOC- Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption) and therefore leads to the same and oftentimes more fat burned. Additionally, muscle cells utilize more energy at rest than fat cells, therefore, the more lean muscle mass a person has, the greater energy they utilize overall.
2. Reduces Risk of Injury as well as decreases Joint/Muscle Pain.
In addition to increasing muscle strength, training of this kind will also strengthen the ligaments and connective tissues which are providing support to your joints. This will help to reduce the risk of injury for women across a broad range of activities; including sports and aerobic activities such as running, cycling, and swimming; essentially allowing you to continue doing the things you love to do!
3. Get Physically Stronger
While this point may sound obvious, I believe the significance of this is often overlooked when women think about their goals/reasons in starting a fitness routine. Becoming physically stronger will improve your quality of life across many aspects of your life. Everyday tasks such as household chores, gardening, playing with your kids and/or animals, etc. all become easier and more enjoyable. I constantly hear from my ladies’ group members that they never thought about how much better it would feel to run up and down the stairs a million times doing laundry or chores, going grocery shopping, taking their dogs for a walk, and so on. The increase in quality of life from simply being stronger is hard to put a value on.
4. Reduce the risk of Osteoporosis
Studies have shown that over time strength training will help prevent bone loss and may even help build new bone. As we age, the risk of osteoporosis increases, so in combining the benefits of stronger bones, stronger muscles and better coordination equals a lower risk for osteoporosis related fractures …..so break out those weights!!!
5. Strong is Beautiful
Perhaps not a motto I can take credit for, but I love it and am using it anyway! I firmly believe that as females gain strength and realize that they can lift more than they thought possible or do more in the weight room than they believed; they gain a special kind of confidence that is hard to match. Believing in oneself and being confident is a beautiful thing. It is my absolute favorite part of this job; when I watch a woman finally realize how strong they are, begin to believe in themselves and finally show the world how beautiful and confident they are!!!
Where to start?
Women looking to start a training program should consider beginning with 2 – 3 times a week and should aim to incorporate compound exercises for the upper body, lower body as well as core strength.