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 🀣

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 πŸ˜‰) 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?

Motivation And Muscles

The question came at me again. I get a lot of questions but this one comes up often….

“How do I get abs?”

Realistically we ALL have them.Β  The strong muscle structure that supports our back and inner organs come as standard equipment on all human bodies.

I know what the well intending person means.

How do I get defined abs? ones that show and pop ?

This really depends on your goal, what you’re wanting to achieve. For many people on their weigh loss journey, just losing fat off of their belly is all they want. Less around the waist, nothing rolling over the top making that awkward “muffin top”. Less around the middle is better for your health even if you don’t care if you ever see a defined ab muscle.

Excess fat around the belly can contribute to heart disease, diabetes, and some types of cancer.

Aesthetics aside… losing it off your middle is in your best health interest.

But… what if you do care and want to see those clear cut and chiseled ab muscles ? orΒ  muscles of any kind?

You ready ?

It takes work, dropping enough body fat and having a wicked eye towards your nutrition.

Muscles are simply not visible with to much fat.

There’s this little saying that ab’s are made in the kitchen and it’s true. What and how you eat definitely comes into play in the muscle game, especially with your abs.

And what you eat is crucial to dropping fat while striving to maintain muscle mass.

But in the process of losing weight it’s important that you are building muscle.

If you diet down without building a solid foundation of strength and dense muscle tissue you’ll end up “skinny fat” ( it means you are under lean, your body has less muscle than fat) , weak and unhealthy.

What does that mean for someone wanting to have muscles that show up ? It means even if you are packing some extra weight, you are working on building muscle. It means you have a good strength training plan to build muscle mass while you work at cutting fat… so when you’ve slowly and steadily dropped that… you will have a muscle base to show up.

No matter how thin you get, if you haven’t built the core muscles in your abs you won’t have the results you are wanting. In fact if you haven’t built muscle anywhere, it won’t be there when you drop the fat.

I have been my own sort of experiment these past few years. I see magazine pictures of people like “before/after” but I don’t know them. I don’t really even know how they got to where they are today. But I do know myself and understand what it’s taken to get me where I am and the fact it’s taken time to achieve it, and I know it will take more time and discipline to further myself.

 

Jan '10 tummy
Fall 2010

 

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Moments after the finish of my second marathon Dec 7, 2014

 

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After a long ride earlier this year

 

 

You have to understand, I am a fairly ordinary woman who has done this on her own with no coaches, trainers or anyone else. I work hard, read a lot, use things I think are helpful for me, reject what I don’t think is helpful and I’ve continued to move forward a little at a time.

Do I want to be stronger ? Yes. Do I know I can have better muscles and definition? Yes. Do I understand because of where I am now it will take more disciplined work and time?

Of course I do. I’m ok with that since I know it’s a process.

The same goes for you. You won’t have visible results without a strong foundation. You will need significant muscle mass before you see abs andΒ  work before you see other muscles.

But hey, remember in the process, you are getting stronger for living your life and that is a total bonus πŸ™‚

What about you? Do you seek a strong, muscled or what people refer to as a “toned” look? Is that a goal? Or are you happy just being strong enough to cart the groceries in with less trips to the car ? πŸ˜‰