It shouldn’t come as a surprise that women are participating in strength and resistance training now more than ever. We are being exposed to more strong women in the media, bombarded with less ridiculous “Thigh Toner 7000s” and seeing more ladies in the weight room owning their strength. As amazing as this is, confusion and intimidation still exists on strength training for women, and today’s article addresses that.
We are breaking down the myth’s and truth’s on strength training for women!
Strength Training for Women: The Truths
– Strength Training will help you lose fat:
Participating in strength training means you will build more muscle, and as your lean muscle increases, so will your metabolism. By increasing your basal metabolic rate, which is the number of calories you burn without exercise daily, this will, in turn, improve the amount of calories we burn from fat stores! If you participate in strength training, you burn more calories, even when you are not working out.
– Strength Training will reduce the risk of osteoporosis:
Unfortunately, women are more susceptible to developing osteoporosis, and studies have shown that strength training not only strengthens your muscles, but also your bones. It significantly increases bone density in women.
– Strength Training will reduce the risk of injury, from anything:
Strength training increases the strength in your connective tissues and joints. The stronger your musculature, the more support you have for your bones and joints, and less likely you are to be sidelined from an injury.
– Strength Training will help improve posture:
Focusing on postural muscles will help you to stand up straighter and there is a major link between posture and confidence, the taller we stand, the more confident we appear and feel.
– Strength Training will improve your overall mood:
There are natural endorphins that are released from both aerobic exercise and strength training. An increase in endorphins reduces stress and anxiety, stimulate the mind and boost your energy. The Mayo Clinic discovered that resistance training helped to act as anti-depressant and improved overall mood.
– Strength Training will increase strength in all other areas of your life:
When you are physically strong, you improve your mental strength – both through positive brain health benefits and the by-product of regularly accomplishing difficult tasks. Momentum is a real thing.
Strength Training for Women: The Myths
– Strength training will make you “bulky”!:
This absolutely had to be the number one myth that we address. The female body does not gain muscle mass in the same way men do. There is a huge hormonal aspect and we do not morph into the hulk after stepping in a weight room. As mentioned above, strength training will actually do the opposite for the female physique and promote leanness. So women, go pick up those heavy dumbbells!
– Strength Training for women should be done with lower weight and higher repetitions. Building strength and muscle is better suited to lower rep ranges:
Strength (3-5 reps)
Hypertrophy (Building lean muscle mass) 6-8 reps
Lifting heavier will create a positive metabolic response helping women to burn more fat. We have two types of muscle fibers: slow twitch and fast twitch. Slow twitch produce energy using oxygen (aerobically) and sustain long periods of work. Fast twitch muscle fibers are capable of producing energy over shorter periods of time (anaerobically). In order to improve muscular definition, we need to activate our fast-twitch muscle fibers and push them to fatigue on a regular basis. 3 sets of 15 reps with 5lbs is just not going to do it, so pick up something heavy.
– Aerobic exercise is the only way to decrease fat:
It is true that aerobic exercise “low and slow” will primarily use fat as its fuel source, but we do not have to spend hours on the treadmill in order to burn fat. Short and high intense bouts of exercise (weight training or HITT training) will also boost fat loss, actually increasing the expenditure during a workout as well as later on in the day. A proper program should incorporate both aspects. Everything in moderation!
Author: Sylvie Tetrault
Mayo Clinic Study: