Why Women Should Strength Train
How many of you females reading this have walked into a gym and made a beeline straight for the treadmill or cross-trainer? Guilty?
Based on my own observations over the years, I would say there are just as many women in the average gym as there are men. When I say gym though, I mean the whole gym – weights area, cardio area & classes. Looking only at the weight training area in an average gym however, one can immediately see the ‘great divide of the sexes’. There are simply a disproportionate number of females NOT weight training – why is that? The answer is simply, misinformation. **This trend is slowing down as better information is being spread, however I still talk to many, many women who are still confused as to the role of weight training in their routine**
1. “Weight training makes women bulky” – I have some good news for you ladies, and you can thank your parents for bringing you into this world a female. Testosterone is a hormone that is a promoter of protein synthesis (muscle growth). As a female, your body only produces 5-10% of the testosterone that males do. In other words, unless you’re getting your supplements from Lance Armstrong, you physically don’t have the capability to add slabs of muscle to the extent that men do. Myth busted.
2. “Weight training makes you tight and stiff” – It’s true, after a hard weight training session, your body may feel tight and stiff. However, this is a short-term effect, and simply part of your body’s natural adaptation process. When performed properly with a full range of motion, weight training increases your flexibility. Stretching should not be ignored, and is very important – but a lack of stretching is to blame for a lack of flexibility, not weight training. Myth busted.
3. “Women should only use light weights and high reps” – You can all thank people like celebrity ‘trainer’ Tracy Anderson for perpetuating myths like this one. To get stronger and build muscle tissue, we ALL need to use loads heavy enough so that our bodies can undertake an adaptation process. If the load is too light, or we don’t’ train to near, or at failure – our bodies simply do not adapt. This means our muscles don’t grow, nor do they become stronger. Your weight-training program should be progressive, so that your body constantly has to adapt. No adaptation process = no progress. I didn’t make that rule, biology did. Sorry Ms. Anderson. P.S Not sorry.
1. Empowerment & Confidence – There hasn’t been one female client of mine who hasn’t felt empowered after performing their first bodyweight chin-up. Being measurably physically stronger is an empowering feeling, and gives you a sense of accomplishment that cannot be matched on a stair-master. Accomplishing anything, especially feats of strength, builds enormous amounts of self-confidence and character.
2. Health Benefits – The clinical evidence is now beyond dispute when it comes to the benefits of exercise and strength training. It lowers blood pressure, glucose, insulin, triglycerides, inflammation, improves your mood, lowers depression and anxiety, makes you feel good, increases your bone density, reduces risk of heart disease, type II diabetes, most cancers, and reduces oxidative stress. Need I say more?
3. Fat Loss – Strength training is expensive. I don’t mean Christian Louboutin expensive, I mean expensive for your body in terms of energy expenditure. Creating an energy deficit is critical for any fat loss goal – simply put, if you’re not expending more energy than you’re taking in, you will not lose weight, period. By adding muscle, your bodies’ resting metabolism is increased. For every pound of muscle you gain, your body burns an extra 35-50 calories per day. So gaining 3-5lbs of muscle could see your body burn 100-250 extra calories per day. It adds up
4. Life is just easier – Whether you’re working 8-4, or a stay-at-home mom, being physically stronger makes daily tasks a lot easier. Carrying groceries, lifting hockey bags into the trunk, dealing with squirming kids, walking up and down the stairs – these tasks are much, much easier if you’re stronger.