Strength Training for Women
“Any program that omits progressive strength training, especially for women, is a program created to make money and sales, not improve health and fitness.”
To be healthy, we all need a degree of strength.
We need strength to protect us, to keep us upright, and to allow us to live a long, independent life.
As women, we should not be afraid of strength training. As part of a well-rounded fitness program and balanced diet, it will NOT make us look ‘bulky’ nor ‘manly’. In fact, since muscle burns more calories than fat, adding lean mass will increase our resting metabolic rate. In other words, we will burn more calories even while at rest.
Why is strength training important?
Without progressive strength training we are more susceptible to injury. This susceptibility is two-fold. One, less muscle mass means less body armor to keep us standing tall and moving well and less protection during a sheer force accident.
Two, it is proven that strength training increases our bone density and the strength of our connective tissue. Our bones naturally lose density as we age and such loss is even more drastic in the years following menopause. It is critical to strength train in order to work against the aging process and keep our bones healthy and strong. Otherwise, we can expect an increased risk of fractures to even minimal trauma.
Worried strength training will make you look ‘bulky’?
Possessing extreme muscle tone, such as that of a CrossFit Games athlete, is practically a full-time job requiring serious commitment. Women with that goal must train multiple times per day, eat an excessive amount of food, and likely take additional supplements such as creatine to further increase their overall muscle mass.
Adding a strength component to a well-balanced training program will only result in the degree of strength necessary for a long and active life. This level of strength will give you more energy and help you maintain functionality for years to even decades longer than you could hope for otherwise.
Finally, understand that strength training must be progressive.
What does progressive mean?
This means the weight and the complexity of movement must progress and build upon itself so that you continue to reap the benefits of training. Without progression, the body will get used to the stress placed upon it and it will no longer adapt.
In other words, ten pound dumbbells might be appropriate for your current level of strength, but you cannot be afraid to up the ante as you get stronger. Bigger dumbbells do NOT equate to bulkiness either. However, they do lead to a stronger mind and body that is more equipped to thrive throughout middle-age and beyond.