Written by SJ McShane
The importance of resistance training for women should not be underestimated. Although, many women still lack knowledge on why it is so beneficial, understand that the benefits of resistance training for women far outweigh those that just perform cardio. Yes, cardio is very important, but to incorporate weight training into your weekly fitness routine will add many benefits. Resistance training was once practiced solely by competitive athletes and bodybuilders but, due to the significant research devoted to the study on the benefits of resistance training, it has gained incredible popularity. With positive results coming forth from these studies, and an overflow of proven positive benefits, the word quickly spread. Now more and more women are realizing that resistance training is the answer to most all fitness related goals. Ditch the “weights are for men” mindset and let’s take a look at why it is so important for women to resistance train as well.
1. Get Lean without the Bulk
The misconception that if a women strength trains they will look “manly” is false. The vast majority of women cannot build big muscles because of their genetic makeup. It highly unlikely to covert fat into muscle, or muscle into fat, as each cell is unique from the other. Women have 10 to 30 times less of the hormones their male counterparts possess that cause muscle hypertrophy (growth). Added muscle tissue boosts the metabloism to give you the toned look women desire.
2. Gain Strength
You will be far less dependent upon others for assistance your daily life by increasing your strength. Simple tasks like lifting your child, carrying groceries, and even cleaning your home become much easier. Research studies conclude that even moderate weight training can increase a woman’s strength by 30 to 50 percent. Research also shows that women can develop their strength at the same rate as men. You will also avoid injury as your maximum strength is increased, daily tasks and routine exercise will be far less likely to cause injury.
3. Fat Loss
Resistance training increases lean muscle tissue. The more lean muscle you have, the higher your metabolism will be. It takes more energy (calories) for our bodies to harbor muscle vs. fat. The increase in resting metabolism created by resistance training causes our bodies to burn calories at rest, not just during a workout session. For women of middle age, this is particularly important. Strength training can help avoid that predictable metabolic sluggishness that often occurs at that stage in life. The same goes for yo-yo dieters whose metabolism have suffered due to lack of proper caloric intake. Thus, the true secret to keeping extra unwanted pounds off is not to eat less, but to add in resistance training.
4. Significant Athletic Performance
Gaining strength through resistance training not only helps one to lift more actual weight, it helps even the top athletes to perform their specific sport more efficiently. Studies show that golfers can significantly increase their driving power, cyclists are able to continue for longer periods of time with less fatigue, and skiers have improved techniques and reduced injuries.
5. Gym Membership Not Required
All you need is a set of dumbbells and you can train in your home or outdoors. You don’t have to be at the gym to experience a burn. This is convenient for new mothers and for some who want to be in their own space as they train.
6. Boost Positive Attitude & Fights Depression
When training hard, our bodies release “feel good” hormones by the name of endorphins. This is also known as a “natural high”. A Harvard study found that 10 weeks of strength training reduced clinical depression symptoms more successfully than standard counseling did. Women who strength train commonly report feeling more confident and capable as a result of their program, all important factors in fighting depression.
7. Reduce Risk of Diabetes
Sadly, this is a disease that is spreading like wildfire. Fortunately, resistance training can add some preventive protection. When studies were conducted on this topic, results showed that resistance training may improve the way the body processes sugar, which may reduce the risk of diabetes. Adult-onset diabetes is a growing problem for women and men. Research indicates that weight training can increase glucose utilization in the body by 23% in four months.
8. Reduce Risk of Heart Disease
The number one killer of women is heart disease. Strengthening your heart will help fight against future heart complications. Studies show that 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.
9. Decreased Risk for Osteoporosis
As we age, we experience bone loss. Lifting heavy weights over time not only maintains bone mass, but can even build new bone, especially in the high-risk group of post-menopausal women. Research has found that weight training can increase spinal bone mineral density (and enhance bone modeling) by 13 percent in six months. Of course, you will need proper calcium intake as well.
10. Protection for Joint & Ligament Injuries
Increasing our strength isn’t the only thing that gets stronger as you resistance train, your ligaments and connective tissue is also strengthened. You will experience increased joint stability and acts as an enforcement for the joints to help prevent injury as we age.
11. You will Look and Feel Younger
As we age, skin tends to sag and droop. Resistance training not only will firm up your muscles but, skin as well. Lifting weights is a great way to tighten and tone our bodies, overall and help guide us into aging more gracefully. The feeling of more energy, more strength and a fit physique also contributes to feeling younger.
12. It’s Not Too Late, You’re not Too Old
Whether you start training in your 20’s or in your 80’s, your body will still reap the same wonderful benefits of resistance training. The only difference will be, weight amount and intensity. It’s been shown that women in their 70’s and 80’s have built up significant strength through weight training and studies now show that strength improvements are possible at any age. Women’s bodies have shown to improve internally and externally at any age.
Are you convinced yet? With all the amazing benefits that resistance training provides, right now it should be hard for you to not run to a set of weights and start lifting. No matter your fitness goal, resistance training can help you reach it, from beginner to advanced, it’s for us all!