What Women Need to Know About Strength Training
Often, women are hesitant to try strength training, also known as resistance training.
There’s a common misconception that this form of exercise will result in unwanted bulkiness, but the reality is quite different. In fact, the health benefits of strength training are too tremendous for ladies to ignore…so let’s break it down!
What is strength training?
Strength training involves using gravitational stress on your muscles to build strength, mass and endurance. This healthy stress can be in the form of weights, resistance bands, medicine balls, suspension straps and even your own body weight.
The goal is to increase endurance, muscle tone and, of course, to make you stronger. Strength training is important for optimum health, but it’s estimated that only about 20% of women do it — a number well below our male counterparts. However, the benefits, from combating muscle loss to boosting feel-good hormones in the brain, are nothing short of transformative when it comes to living a longer, more independent life (and looking good while doing so!).
According to Daniel Silva, CA fitness training supervisor and personal trainer, the hormone response is an important and under-looked benefit that strength training offers.
“Most people don’t think about their hormones when they’re exercising, but the reason you may be having trouble losing weight or building muscle is that you’re not getting the right hormone response,” says Silva. “Strength training stimulates certain hormones to rev up your metabolism. These hormones only occur when you’re putting force and contracting the muscles under some sort of resistance — you can’t get the same response doing cardio.”
Strength training is empowering
Like we mentioned before, concern over a bulky-looking physique is the number one strength training deterrent for women. However, Silva explains that it actually has the opposite effect.
“It’s going to get you leaner, because strength training causes you to burn more calories throughout the day,” says Silva. “You actually end up doing less exercise, yet your metabolism is faster.”
It’s important to understand that testosterone is the primary muscle-building hormone, and women have much lower levels of this hormone, which is why you won’t suddenly look masculine. In fact, strength training actually helps you reshape your body to your own specifications. You can sculpt the muscles for definition, not bulk. You get to decide if you have specific areas where you want to build more muscle. For instance, if you want more defined arms and shoulders for when you wear that sleeveless shirt, adding weight training to your workouts can help those areas that genetics may have missed.
Staci Ardisonon from Nerdfitness wrote that “life is easier when you’re stronger.” We couldn’t agree more: There’s less risk of injuring yourself when you’re building strong muscles, bones, ligaments, and tendons. In short, strength training guarantees that you’ll be hitting the dance floor on your 80th birthday!
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Numerous health benefits
Beyond a sense of empowerment that defies age (and gravity!), there are plenty of good reasons to begin a strength/resistance exercise plan.
- Increases muscle mass, which increases your metabolism
- Lowers your risk of age-related bone and muscle loss (especially for women, who are at an elevated risk of osteoporosis)
- Greater flexibility in the joints
- Better balance and coordination
- Reduces pain and inflammation
- Improves heart health (heart disease is the leading cause of death for women)
- Reduces the effects of chronic conditions that affect your muscle and joint strength, such as diabetes and arthritis
- Lowers stress levels
Strength training also helps with weight management, since with increased muscle mass means an increased number of calories burned.
“Many, many things have to occur over time to build big muscles, so if that’s not your goal, don’t worry that you’re going to look like a bodybuilder,” says Silva. “The muscle tone is better than your skin than fat cells, and you’ll love the way you look and feel when you give strength training a try.”
Get stronger with CA
Interested in the help of professional to kick off your strength training routine? Check out CA’s personal training programs, which include virtual options. We have more than 30 skilled, friendly trainers who are passionate about helping you work toward your strongest, healthiest self.