Why Women Should Strength Train

So I’ve been camping on this idea for awhile now and after a particularly strong and energetic week I decided to get it out, dust it off, and talk about it.

Between physical therapy and those single leg presses ( do you hurt after doing them? they ask.. all 30 reps….Me…nooo.) ok then add ten more, 40 reps per side with your 165lb weight.

I like how they challenge me.

Plus, add the strength training I do at home, it’s been a vigorous week. My deadlifts are at 185 with me currently doing about 3 sets of 4. Baby steps ya’ll…baby steps…I mean this is literally picking up 185 dead weight straight off the floor…not bad for the old lady group ūü§£

My workouts include body weight work as well as using a kettlebell, dumbbells, and weighted bar. Resistance bands come in handy too.

I didn’t start here, I’ve come along way from my little 8lb dumbbells from several years ago!

I do talk a lot about the importance of strength training, for women and men, and the crucial role it can play in our lives.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be old and weak.

Old may happen, weakness doesn’t need to.

Why strength train?

Let’s define that first. Strength training can be accomplished using just your body ( we all have those!) And with the obvious, weights for lifting. Both are done to build more physical strength

Strength training is the best way to increase muscle mass, keep body fat at bay, and increase overall strength.

Even in todays world women who participate in formal or consistent weight training is extremely low with many opting only for cardiovascular exercise. If you’re a woman, you shouldn’t be avoiding weights, and you should take strength training seriously.

Let’s look at reasons why

* you will get physically stronger. If there is one thing I love about how my workouts carry over into my daily life, it’s being strong and very capable to handle anything. I love being able to move and lift things without needing help.

Not because I want to feel tough( well maybe a little ūüėČ) but because it’s rather empowering.

I often help customers unload equipment at my sons engine shop. I love the looks I get when I tell a man I will help unload.

One guy…”well it’s pretty heavy…I mean you look strong but it’s heavy..”

I didn’t tell him I was more concerned he wouldn’t be able to deliver on his end than mine.

A well trained womans body is as capable as a man. Strength is not gender specific.

Increasing your strength will make you far less dependent on others. Increasing your strength also means daily tasks and routine exercise will be less likely to cause injury.

Do you know….. research concludes that even moderate strength training can increase a womans strength by 30 to 50 percent. Research also shows a woman can develop her strength at the same rate as a man.

You’ll lose some fat

Studies show the average woman who trains 2-3 times a week, for two months, can gain nearly 2 pounds of muscle and lose 3.5 lbs of fat.

And for the record…you don’t turn fat into muscle….the times I read that in places…nor can you claim gaining weight as muscle after working out for 2 weeks. It takes consistent work and time.

You’ll gain strength without bulk

For whatever reason, if there’s a myth out there regarding women and weight lifting, it’s this.

They worry about getting “bulky”.

Sorry ladies, we just don’t have the genetic makeup for that to happen. We lack the hormones and honestly we aren’t gonna eat enough and workout hard and long enough to even come close.

What will happen? You will develop muscle “tone” and muscle definition and that’s a huge win.

You will decrease your risk of osteoporosis

Weight training can increase spinal bone mineral density (and enhance bone modeling) this coupled with adequate dietary calcium is our best defense against osteoporosis.

You can improve your athletic performance

No matter what you do, strength training can not only improve your athletic ability, it can protect from injuries as well.

You will reduce your risk of back pain, injury and arthritis

Strength training not only builds stronger muscles but also builds stronger connective tissues and increases joint stability. This acts as reinforcement for the joints and helps prevent injury. Strengthening the low-back muscles can help in eliminating or alleviating low-back pain. Weight training can ease the pain of osteoarthritis and strengthen joints.

Will reduce your risk of heart disease
Weight training can improve cardiovascular health in several ways, including lowering LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, increasing HDL (“good”) cholesterol and lowering blood pressure. When cardiovascular exercise is added, these benefits are maximized.

Weight training can help with peri menopause symptoms

During midlife women have often put on weight, become more sedentary, and do not exercise which can enhance the symptoms women complain of during the years of peri menopause and menopause.

Fatigue, hot flashes, low mood or depression, weight gain and muscle aches and pains and other issues are often complained about. Strength training can often help combat these symptoms or offer some level of relief. Strength training decreases body fat, increases muscle mass, and optimizes hormones, not to mention, getting stronger is a great mental boost too.

Finally, it’s never to late to benefit
Women in their 70s and 80s have built up significant strength through weight training and studies show that strength improvements are possible at any age. Note, however, that a strength training professional should always supervise older participants.

Adding strength training to your weekly exercise ( 2-3 times a week) man or woman will give you great benefits that will help you in all areas of your life.

Your turn.. is strength training a part of your week? What benefits have you seen doing it?

Strength Training And Every Day Life

So I’ve been kinda lazy lately… you know with the writing thing. Sometimes I just feel like there’s to much up there in my¬†brain¬†and it’s all clamoring to escape and in turn it comes out with multiple ideas and story lines. Sometimes, I’m just lazy and don’t want to be still long enough to write.

That my friends, is the usual more likely culprit.

It’s hard for me to contain myself at blocks of time to sit and write. Probably why I will never be the next Stephen King or whomever.¬† It’s why I¬† remove myself from home so I don’t start thinking about the¬†projects beckoning me to come play with them,

And if you’re following me then you know what I mean by projects, my antique furniture flipping adventures. I have my list of what I’m doing with each and seeing that by my laptop makes me want to go get creative. And yeah, I’ve heard you. You want a post on my furniture flipping shenanigans and it will be in the works. It will be a fun post on some of my recent projects and what I’ve done with some of them.

So, I remove myself to get creative with words for awhile, ’cause you know, use it or lose it.

I mean, in actuality, I’m not really you know, lazy. I can be selective about things I give my time to, is that different?

Over the weekend I was sharing some stuff with hubby, namely how my legs were tight and whining that I needed to be more diligent to rolling them out on my pvc pipe to keeps my muscles loose from what I do to them.

Rolling on the pipe is the poor mans equivalent of a deep tissue massage.

Yes, I willingly hurt myself to get my muscles loose to keep doing the things I do.

Mind you, I like what I do. The running and cycling and lifting heavy things with doses of boxing and rowing in the mix.

I like it.

But putting my body through constant rigors also demands that “after/before” self care that goes alongside being athletic. Sometimes I get lazy with that too.. I will admit it…

So I get these words from hubby “You¬†need to remember you aren’t indestructible”

Me: ” Uh, yeah, I tend to forget that” hahaha

I’m not reckless, I’m just a bit fearless and don’t like backing down from things. I do believe there is a difference.

So with a nod to the reminder I’m not indestructible, I’ll seque into the topic for today, building strong bodies.

Today was strength training day. This usually unfolds for me with my time involving some type of cardio warm up for 10-15 minutes then spending the remaining hour (ish) on strength training, using my body and weights.

I’ve evolved a lot in knowing what I want over these past few years getting fit. I finally know where my “loves” are and what makes me feel alive. That is, being outside and going at 90 on foot or bike. I’ve also learned the¬† weather can shut those activities down and strength training was always a good plan B. But then I started understanding how important those days were to my other activities and strength training days stopped being the ugly step sister.

Strength training is important for you too

You might be reading this thinking it’s not so important for you, but really, being strong for life IS important for you. My training time takes a small part of my day. The rest of it, I’m on the go doing¬†life. Sometimes, it’s heavy work.¬† I like to be able to do tough stuff on my own. I will freely admit to wanting to be able to handle it without waiting for someone ( and boy do I get frustrated when I have to!)

I don’t mean “oh, I can get it done and grind it out” I mean, I like doing it with ease, and there is a difference. The stronger you are, the easier things are.

It makes me laugh every time I go get some big piece of furniture and get on the end to lift it when I get the warning:

“It’s heavy”.

I kinda like being underestimated.

Now I’m not reckless ( see my comment above on that) nor am I stupid. I hear the warning, I engage my body just like when I’m lifting stuff in training, preparing for the weight of it, and it turns out to be¬†a piece of cake.

Why? I practice getting strong so when I’m doing life, those things are easy.

Same for you. You are doing life and I’m pretty sure encounter things that require you to put some energy into your activities. When you practice it, then in real life, your body just does what you’ve trained it for.

I’ve upgraded

20180315_085813
Curling up a bit more now days to build those arms.. I’ve made progress.

 

 

I didn’t start off this way. It’s what I remind people when I get asked about my journey and where I am. I didn’t wake up one day and just grab the heavy stuff. No, I had these baby 5lb weights that looking back were, really, useless. I mean I carried several grocery bags at once weighing more than 5 lbs why would I think that would help. I then made the “huge” jump to 8lbs and that offered a bit more challenge esp on high reps. I stayed there for awhile till it felt to easy.

I then upgraded again. I remember the trip to the sports store. Hubby bought me what I wanted, 15 lb little suckers. I could just do about 6 reps before my arms were shaking.

Perfect.

That’s what you need to do as well if you start. Find something you can barely do like 6-8 times and start there. That’s a challenge for you.

Over time that got easier although my 15 lbs are my go to for high reps. I have a variety of things  I use including a 35lb kettle bell that I use for everything from kettle bell swings to deadlifts to single leg deadlifts and everything in between.

This weight works for me ’cause I can use both arms to toss it around but I cannot curl that weight with one arm.

I have however recently upgraded to curling like 25 lbs so I’m kinda excited over that.

And by that I mean I’m in the “curl 6-8 times before arm falls off zone” and that’s good ’cause it’s gonna make me work harder and well, build my girl arms some more. I rest a minute, and go at it again. ¬†And it’s almost tank top season and I live in those so the arms get some decent exposure ūüėõ time for that hard work to hang out in the sunshine haha

It’s a progression

When I talk to people they always feel overwhelmed like they need to start where I am or their friend or whatever.

Uh. No.

It takes time, energy, patience and a whole lot of stubbornness to keep at it and for your body to grow and adapt to the changes you put it through.

You cannot jump in where someone else is.

You can find where you are, what you are capable of and start there. As I always suggest find a weight that is hard for you, that you have to really work at doing those 6-8 reps on. Even in the beginning if it’s all you can do at a time, start there. You most likely will be able to do those reps, rest a bit and do another set two or three times.

My weight progression has been gradual and I still have tons of room for growth and improvement! I have lots of body building friends who spend way more time lifting than I do, but then, ha they spend a lot less time on cardio than I do ūüėČ In time I will slowly and steadily increase what I do. Of course my goals are also different from those who have a focus on body building.

Get your equipment

You can use things as simple as milk jugs with some water in them and lift those, adding as little or a lot as needed. You can add sand too.

Craigslist¬† and local sale sites have ¬†a plethora of “better ideas” people are looking to unload for cheap. I’ve spent very little money getting stuff, and no, I don’t go to a gym. I work out with lawn equipment and ¬†my projects in a building with no heat or air. This is probably good as it keeps me acclimated for my outdoor activities. But there have been mornings I could see my breath in the air and I will just say that metal is crazy cold.. but I do it.

20180227_095245
One of my projects photo bombing me ūüėČ

 

 

 

20180315_090057
My toys

Of course, using just your own body is the perfect way to build more strength by doing body weight exercises that can work specific muscle groups.

Some life thoughts

You may never care about having a defined muscle, although, they are cool to have. But do you know the reason so many people are in nursing or care homes? They lack muscle strength to get out of chairs or off the toilet and a whole lot of other reasons as well. As we grow older, our skeletal¬†muscles tend to wither and weaken, a phenomenon known as sarcopenia. Sarcopenia, which begins to appear at around age¬†40 and accelerates after 75, is a major cause of disability in the elderly. Exercise can help counter the effects of age related muscle¬†loss. We begin to lose muscle mass as we age and if we aren’t actively using them they can become weak and not support us in the normal daily activities we need to do. That might be a good reason to schedule some active strength training several times a week, right?

If you need help getting started, look around you and see who’s out there doing it and learn from them. I shamelessly pick brains of people who know more on things I’m interested in to learn from them.

And of course, there’s always Google search and the internet too, right? Just find your place where to start, make it a commitment to yourself several times a week and then break out those sleeveless tops ūüėČ

Tell me, do you do strength training? what do you incorporate? Or, do you want to get started in it?