Following on from my post the other week on women in weight training, I thought I would write a post a with a little more detail in relation to women and weight training. More recently, views are shifting and more woman are beginning to include resistance training as part of their regular exercise programming which is great to see! Although there is still quite a stigma attached to weight training for women, I see it a lot at the gym where women are afraid to take part in strength training as they don’t want to become ‘manly’ and are afraid of building muscle because of this. Although, it is really not that easy to become ‘manly’ looking, this takes a lot of hard work & years of dedication, along with a strict diet and training programme. Secondly, us women don’t have the same testosterone levels as men, men have about 7-8x more than we do, therefore we are unable to build muscle at the same rate men do, testosterone is the hormone responsible for building muscle & without that, we won’t end up looking too manly with just a regular exercise programme and diet!
So for the average woman looking to increase fitness, feel better and more confident in their body, then weight training is such a good component to add to your training.
There are many benefits beyond how we look; such as positive impact on bone density, decreasing the chance of developing osteoporosis in later life, particularly in post-menopausal women, due to oestrogen loss (hormone which protects bone), weight bearing activities will increase bone density, reducing risk of brittle bones. (3) With sedentary lifestyles people are gradually getting weaker over time and need strength to perform basic everyday tasks. Exercise also helps strengthen the connections in your brain to be stronger, which may help in reducing your risk of developing Alzheimer’s or dementia, which is particularly important for older adults. (1)
Lifting weights will also increase your confidence, and can be so satisfying and empowering to see your weight increase as the weeks go on! It gives you that physical empowerment, when you just get that weight off the ground. It also increases your basal metabolic rate, as muscle tissue is metabolically active, therefore the more muscle mass you have, the more you can eat (who wouldn’t want to be able to eat more food!)
It is also a lot less boring than cardio on a treadmill or cross trainer! Although the first time can definitely be daunting for woman walking into the weights area when you are unsure of what to do, if your not confident at the start, ask a PT in your gym to help you and maybe get a few sessions so you get more familiar with the equipment and how to use it properly with good form and you’ll be good to go. Or if your starting off at home, there are many YouTube videos with real time home workouts out there which you can follow along to get you started and with minimal equipment.
The endorphins you get after a good session will make you feel so good and elevate your mood for the day, give you more energy, feel more productive & help you get better quality sleep.
There have been a couple of small studies done recently looking into strength training and a reduction in risk for developing cardiovascular disease and studies have found that including strength training (sometimes combined with aerobic training) to be beneficial in reduction of risk of cvd (4)(5). Although there is still more research to be done on this topic, the outcome looks pretty positive.
A study was conducted in Harvard in 2016 on woman and found in the follow up that those who participated in strength training were more likely to have a healthier diet and be a non-smoker, it’s results showing a 30% decrease in risk for type 2 diabetes and a 17% reduced risk of cardiovascular disease compared to those who didn’t participate in strength training. (2)
Today many more are becoming aware if the benefits of strength training not only for physical health but also mental health, through social media and are feeling empowered to try it out. If an exercise makes you feel good, lifts your mood and enjoy it then why would you not include it in your daily routine🤷♀️
Top tips for those who want to get started with strength training;
Have a plan – once you know what your doing and a have a plan suited to you, and your goals don’t have to overthink the whole session.
Get a good PT to help you if your unfamiliar with machines and equipment in a gym.
Plan your session around your schedule- you are less likely to cancel if you have it diarised.
A good support system is crucial when taking up something new for you, to support you when your not feeling it and it can motivate you to keep going.
Watching yourself get progressive stronger over time is so empowering and it will 100% make you feel good!
And remember when your at the gym, most people are too focused on themselves or their own goals to worry about what you are doing so do not be afraid or scared to try things out, there’s only one way you’ll find out if you enjoy it!