Defying the effects of aging can be challenging, but there’s no need to resort to surgical procedures or drastic alterations. Engaging in strength training for fitness offers a myriad of advantages.
It can enhance your youthful appearance and make you feel more vibrant by firming up loose skin and promoting a natural radiance. It also stimulates the production of a growth hormone that revitalises our cells, improves the health of hair and nails, and supports weight management.
If that’s not enough, it aids in regulating hormones which influence our moods, energy, and metabolism. With increased strength, it will leave you with a sense of empowerment both internally and externally.
Best of all, these improvements come at no cost, making it a valuable investment in your time and overall wellbeing. Keep reading to explore more advantages, tips, techniques, as well as busting some myths!
What is Strength Training?
Strength training, also referred to as resistance training, involves challenging your muscles to adapt and become stronger. This type of training comes in two forms:
- isometric, which involves muscle contraction against a solid object.
- isotonic, which involves muscle contraction through a range of motion, such as lifting weights.
Additionally, there are exercises that combine cardio and resistance training, such as swimming, where you work against the resistance of water.
Strength training for fitness offers numerous benefits to women. From building lean muscle mass to boosting metabolism and enhancing bone density, strength training can have a significant impact on your workouts. In this blog, we will explore the specific advantages of strength training for women and how it can help you achieve your fitness goals.
Understanding Strength Training for Women
Firstly, lets bust some myths and disillusions:
Many women shy away from strength training in fear of bulking up. But it’s important to debunk this common myth. Women typically lack the testosterone levels required to bulk up easily. Lean muscle growth is a more realistic outcome of strength training for women, contributing to a toned and sculpted physique rather than excessive bulk.
On the contrary, increasing muscle boosts our metabolism, therefore burning more calories. Excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) signifies the body’s need for oxygen to return to its pre-workout state. By lifting weights, you will trigger higher EPOC levels than cardio, resulting in more muscle breakdown. In turn, the body will continue to torch calories well after you’ve completed your workout.
Muscle Turning to Fat
Only if you don’t adapt to the change will you risk gaining weight. During training you consume a lot of calories to use for energy. When you stop burning calories through training, you can simply adjust your calorie intake to suit your new lifestyle.
Can’t be done at Home
On the contrary, you can purchase various compact weightlifting equipment for your home. It’s not even necessary to spend money- you can use water bottles, your own body weight, or safe household items with some weight. You may already be engaging in strength training with your children!
Health Benefits of Strength Training
Lifting Weights to Lose weight
Many women are choosing strength training for fitness due to the calorie after-burn. Strength training is highly effective for increasing metabolism and promoting fat loss. Unlike cardio exercises that burn calories during the activity, strength training raises your resting metabolic rate, leading to continuous calorie burn even after the workout.
Strength training is reported to reduce weight by nearly 2kg in 10 weeks. Resting metabolism can increase by 7%. As women build lean muscle, their bodies become more efficient at burning fat, resulting in a leaner physique and improved health.
Reducing Risk of Osteoporosis
As women age, maintaining strong bones is crucial. Strength training helps in enhancing bone density and reducing the risk of osteoporosis, a condition prevalent in women. By subjecting the bones to the stress of resistance, strength training stimulates the production of bone-forming cells, generating stronger and healthier bones. This not only improves overall strength but also reduces the likelihood of fractures and bone-related ailments.
Dodging Type 2 Diabetes
Glycaemic control requires a balance of insulin with diet and exercise. A study in Austria compared the effects of strength training to endurance training with type 2 diabetes patients. This was done over a 4-month period with 11 men, and 11 women. They discovered strength training significantly improved triglyceride levels and lowered cholesterol. Another study revealed strength training 3 times per week for 30 minutes, increases insulin activity in skeletal muscle.
Research shows that strength training can alleviate existing join pain, especially for middle-aged women. By building muscle, you are creating more support for your knees, ankles etc. A study on women suffering knee pain showed that a home-based strength training program resulted in significant improvements in physical function, pain, and strength in their knees.
Mental Wellbeing and Stress Reduction
In addition to the physical benefits, strength training has a profound impact on mental wellbeing and stress reduction. Engaging in regular strength training releases endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good hormones, which can alleviate symptoms of anxiety, depression, and stress.
The sense of accomplishment and empowerment gained from overcoming physical challenges during strength training sessions can also improve self-esteem and mental resilience. By providing an outlet for stress and negative emotions, strength training offers holistic benefits for both body and mind.
Fitness Benefits of Strength Training
Choosing strength training for fitness offers a myriad of benefits. Here is an in-depth look at some advantages that go beyond just building muscle:
Improves Functional Strength and Daily Activities
With regular strength training, women experience improved functional strength which directly translates to better performance in daily activities. Whether it’s lifting grocery bags, carrying children, or even performing household chores, the increased muscle strength gained from resistance training can make these tasks feel less demanding. This means greater independence and confidence in managing day-to-day responsibilities.
Enhances Athletic Performance
For women involved in sports, strength training can significantly boost athletic performance. By building muscle strength and power, you can run faster, jump higher, and execute movements with greater agility. This can be empowering for women participating in competitive sports or those aiming to achieve personal fitness milestones.
Prevents Injury and Joint Health
One of the lesser-known benefits of strength training is its role in preventing injuries. Building muscle strength around the joints helps to stabilise them, reducing the risk of strains and fractures. Not only that, it contributes to better posture, mobility and flexibility. This is valuable for women as they are more susceptible to certain types of injuries, making strength training an essential part of a fitness regimen.
Osteoporosis and Aging
Maintaining bone health becomes increasingly important as we get older. Osteoporosis is a condition in which bones become weak and can easily break, posing a significant risk. By engaging in strength training exercises, you can lower the chances of experiencing falls and fractures.
Research from Oxford Health Education found that approximately 200 million women suffer from osteoporosis, highlighting the widespread impact of this condition. The study also revealed that a 12-week strength training program enhanced balance and lower body strength in older women.
As women age from 30 to 80, our muscle strength naturally declines, a phenomenon known as Sarcopenia. However, incorporating strength training into our routines can help manage and prevent this loss, underscoring the importance of such exercises for overall health.
Empowerment and Confidence
Strength training is not just about physical strength, it’s about empowerment and confidence. Here are some ways that strength training can boost your spirit:
Transforming Body Composition
Strength training empowers women to transform their body composition, promoting the development of lean muscle mass and the reduction of body fat. This results in a more toned and sculpted physique, enhancing self-image and boosting confidence.
Strength training challenges the idea that looking strong is only for men, and instead demonstrates how women can be both graceful and powerful through resistance exercises. By going against what society expects, women can define beauty and ability on their own terms.
As women conquer new challenges and witness physical improvements through strength training, their self-esteem grows. The sense of accomplishment from lifting heavier weights, mastering new techniques, and surpassing personal bests encourages a deep sense of confidence and self-worth. By choosing strength training for fitness, you can break free of limiting beliefs and develop a resilient mindset. This can extend well beyond the gym.
Strength Training for Fitness Tips
Set Realistic Goals
When designing a strength training program, it’s crucial to set achievable goals that align with your fitness goals. Consider what you want to accomplish, whether it’s increasing muscle mass, improving overall strength, or enhancing endurance. By setting realistic and measurable targets, you can chart your progress and stay motivated throughout your fitness journey.
Choose the Right Exercises and Equipment
It’s important to select appropriate exercises and equipment for a successful strength training regime. Seek guidance from a professional fitness instructor.
Workouts should target different muscle groups, incorporating a variety of exercises such as squats, deadlifts, and bench presses. Consider the equipment best suited to your goals, whether it’s free weights, resistance bands, or weight machines. By diversifying your routine, you ensure comprehensive muscle development and prevent monotony.
Ensure Proper Form and Safety
Maintaining proper form during strength training not only maximises the effectiveness of your workout but also minimises the risk of injury. Focus on executing each exercise with precision, prioritising technique over heavier weights. Pay attention to safety measures such as using spotters for heavy lifts and incorporating adequate rest periods. By prioritising form and safety, you lay a solid foundation for long-term progress and overall wellbeing.
Strength Training Equipment
Try this range of equipment to incorporate strength training for fitness gains:
- Arm/leg weights
- Medicine balls
- Body bars
- Stability ball
- Resistance bands
- TRX suspension trainer
- Cable machine, pulley system, or multi-gym.
Alternatively, you can use your own body weight.
Free Weights Vs Machines
Which weightlifting is more effective? Each have their pros and cons:
Free weights are hand-held equipment like dumbbells and kettlebells. They are advantageous because they are affordable and don’t take up much space. You can use a variety of techniques to target different muscles at the same time. They are functional for most activities and easy to switch weights between exercises.
However, the challenge with free weights is maintaining proper form. The resistance level can vary, so controlled movements are necessary for effectiveness.
Weight machines make it easier to maintain proper form because they provide clear instructions and support for your body, reducing the risk of injury. You can adjust the weight for different exercises and use various attachments like short bars, long bars, and ropes. The weight is controlled throughout your movements, and you can increase to heavier weights without needing a spotter.
However, weight machines restrict movements more than free weights and the resistance level can be more intense, which may feel intimidating.
Embrace Strength Training for Fitness
The benefits of strength training for women are undeniable. From improving physical strength and bone density to boosting metabolism and improving wellbeing, strength training offers something for everyone.
Make the decision to embrace strength training for fitness and unlock a world of positive outcomes for your body and mind.