The importance of strength training is often overlooked and many women fear that lifting weights will cause them to bulk up and lose their femininity. Ladies this is not the case!
Both the latest fitness research and my own real-life experiences show that strength training is one of the fastest routes to fat loss and becoming leaner and is a necessary partner alongside aerobic exercise for a healthy lifestyle.
So before you say ‘no’ to weights and spend your next workout only on the treadmill or solely focusing on aerobic exercise, take some time to challenge your preconceptions and learn about the benefits of strength training for women.
We do not have nearly as much testosterone, the main growth hormone responsible for muscle hypertrophy(growth) as men and bulking up is highly calorie dependent.
Many women miss out on the benefits of strength training due to the misconception that they will develop bulging muscles but this couldn’t be further from the truth. We do not have nearly as much testosterone, the main growth hormone responsible for muscle hypertrophy(growth) as men and bulking up is highly calorie dependent. In general when women take part in strength training, the changes to their muscles are related to tone, strength, and endurance rather than size. Because muscle is denser than fat, it squeezes the same amount of weight into less space. That means the more muscle you build, the tighter and leaner your body will look.
Increases your metabolism for hours after training
Numerous studies have demonstrated conclusively that strength training burns fat much more effectively than running for a long-duration or even an hour long aerobic class like Zumba.
In a study published in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, women who completed an hour-of strength-training burned an average of 100 more calories in the 24 hours post workout than those who just did aerobic exercise.
Helps you lose body fat…
Whilst long duration aerobic exercise such as swimming, cycling, and running burns fat while you’re exercising, anaerobic (without oxygen) exercise such as weight training burns calories long after you’ve stopped exercising. This is because your body is in an oxygen deficit following a strength-training session and is forced to work to rebuild its oxygen stores. It can last for up to 24 hours post-workout, with some research suggesting up to 48 hours depending on the intensity of the workout.
The result? Your resting metabolism is increased and you burn more calories after a weights workout than if you’d exercised aerobically for the same (or longer) period of time.
The increased lean muscle mass gained from strength training will also help your body burn more calories throughout the day at rest. This is because it costs more energy/calories to maintain muscle than it does fat.
So anyone who wants to lose fat should make every effort to hold on to, and even gain lean muscle mass.
Preserves muscle mass
After the age of 25 we begin to loose muscle mass and this process continues to accelerate as you get older.
After the age of 25 we begin to loose muscle mass and this process continues to accelerate as you get older. if you don’t do anything to replace the lean muscle you loose, the percentage of fat on your body increases, you burn fewer calories, and are at increased risk of broken bones. Strength training counteracts this loss and can preserve and even increase your muscle mass, regardless of age
Stops bone loss and osteoperosis
As we (women) age, hormonal changes disrupt the body’s natural bone building process. This leads to a loss in bone density and an increased risk of osteoporosis. Strength training can help prevent bone loss, increase bone strength, reducing the risk of osteoporosis or slowing down the effects once it has started. In a study published in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, postmenopausal women who took part in strength training experienced significant increases in their bone density in their spine and hips, after a year.
Moreover building strong muscles through strength training also improves coordination and balance; 2 key factors that can help prevent falls leading to osteoporosis related fractures.
Decreases risk of injury
Strength training builds stronger connective tissues and increases joint stability and strength, reducing the risk of injury.
If you’re going to lift weights, lose the scales.
Most scales only show your body weight; They do not take into account how much of your weight is lean muscle mass and how much is fat. If you gain muscle and lose fat, you may weigh more on the scale. Therefore monitoring your body fat % with calipers or a specialiesd scale is much more accurate. Alternatively you cn take photos or my favourite tool to follow progress is to see how my clothes are fitting.
If you want to give strength training a go, here are some quick and easy steps to follow, that can be done at home or in a gym.
- Your own body weight (eg press ups, pull ups, plank)
- Free weights (eg dumbells, barbells)
- Resistance machines
- Resistance bands
If you’re a member of a gym, schedule a session with a PT. This way you can learn how to lift safely, as posture is extremely important so you don’t do more damage than good.
Pre and post workout is just as important as the workout itself. The importance of a mindful balanced diet with an adequate protein intake to feed your growing muscles is a crucial component of strength training and seeing the associated fat loss results.
And remember the number on the scale isn’t everything and could be misleading. Set goals based on what you can do and your performance rather than what you weight.