Most women understand the health benefits of cardiovascular exercise given that heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in the United States. However weight or strength training is often a harder sell.
This article reveals why women should lift weights as a foundational part of their fitness routine.
Society has conditioned us to associate weight training with bulking up muscles. And the media is bombarding us with negative body image messaging around women having stronger frames.
Let’s bust a couple myths before we dive in anymore. First, weight training is not all about bulking up. Instead it increases and preserves muscles. Later we’ll explore why this is crucial for everyone, especially women.
Second, there is no one right or ideal body. It’s totally up to you if you want to follow a routine that leads to increased muscle mass in terms of bulk or if you want to develop strength without bulk. Variety in body build is what makes us all unique and beautiful.
Once women reach their 20s, they will naturally lose, on average, five percent of their muscle mass each decade as part of aging. That progressive loss of muscle over time negatively affects their health, mobility, flexibility, and strength.
Taking up a regular strength training program is the most effective way to counter age-related muscle loss.
Each person has their own set point weight where their body is healthy and their weight remains stable. Strength training can help your body maintain this ideal weight. Muscles boost our metabolism which helps us process nutrients more efficiently.
As we age, our bones get weaker and thinner. This age related bone deterioration is more pronounced in women than it is in men. As a result, women are more likely to suffer from fractures and other conditions related to osteoporosis.
Strength training is the single best tool that we have to offset age related bone degeneration. Not only does it slow down bone wasting, it actually causes the bones to become thicker and stronger.
Up until recently, researchers have not really appreciated the cardiovascular health benefits of strength training. The emphasis has been on cardio exercise for overall health benefits. While there is no denying that cardio provides many health benefits, strength training is fast catching up and, in some respects, surpassing it.
Strength training lowers blood pressure, reduces resting heart rate, increases glucose tolerance, and improves cholesterol profiles. Even a small amount of strength training, under an hour a week, can reduce your risk of heart disease by 40 to 70%.
According to the CDC, over 90% of diabetes is type 2, making it important for us to consider our fitness and nutrition choices. Strength training can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes by 30% which is pretty amazing.
As you are no doubt aware, any kind of movement makes you feel better. Exercise leads to the release of feel good hormones that promote a sense of well-being and positivity. Strength training can provide a higher and faster mental boost.
On top of those feel good hormones, women often experience other fringe benefits. Increased strength and sense of accomplishment from getting stronger can improve self confidence and empowerment.
Strength training also builds resilience as you learn to navigate workouts and discover motivation to push forward you get stronger daily tasks become easier. The mental benefits of strength training can last even a year afterward.
The best way to get started is having at least a couple of sessions with a personal trainer. A certified trainer will provide you with a properly structured workout program with the right reps, sets, and weekly training structure for you.
Your fitness coach will also be able to train you in the correct exercise form (hello injury prevention) and provide motivation. At CoPilot we offer virtual fitness coaching which offers the benefits of in-person personal training with the convenience of virtual coaching.
Not only will you get a customized exercise plan, but your coach is also there to look at the full picture including nutrition and building healthy habits.