It is quite often that I meet with new female clients who express hesitation to begin a strength training routine, especially one that includes lifting heavy weights. Partially, this is a result of the commonly spread myth that lifting weights will make women “bulky” or “manly-looking.” Other times it is more out of a fear of being the only female in the weight room, a space traditionally known to be dominated by chest-puffing males trying to stroke their egos. This latter point is a somewhat legitimate fear (as most weight rooms are generally male-dominated), but I believe it stems from a lack in confidence using the equipment above all else. The former point is indeed a myth—unless you are supplementing with hormones, a woman physically cannot get as bulky as a man. In fact, weight training can ENHANCE the feminine figure that most women desire. For women who might be apprehensive to try weight training, or for those just dipping their feet in the water, what are some benefits you can expect to gain from participating in this type of exercise?
- Improved Strength. First and foremost you will get stronger. I don’t mean the type of stronger where you notice it easier to carry the groceries (although this will happen too), I mean the stronger where you feel like a complete bad*ss lifting weights that will make people stare in awe.
- Improved Confidence. Many people have fears in their daily life. Fear of public speaking or talking to strangers, fear of embarrassing themselves or having an idea shot down in a work meeting, to name a few. By following a strength-training program, and building your strength to awe-inspiring levels, these fears will seem like nothing more than a nuisance. Proposing a new project idea in front of your boss seems so much less daunting when you’ve successfully squatted a bone-crushing amount of weight earlier that day.
- Improved body composition and weight loss. Strength training builds muscle, and muscle also happens to be metabolically active. This means it will require extra calories to maintain this new muscle on the body. What does this mean for you? It means the more muscle you have the more calories you burn doing EVERYTHING else throughout your day. This makes maintaining a certain weight or body fat percentage, or losing weight or body fat, much more manageable. Having more muscle also means you will be able to eat MORE and still maintain your weight! Bonus snack time!
- Improved Mental Fortitude. It takes a lot of courage to step under a bar weighing hundreds of pounds. It can be scary and nerve-racking, and it requires a certain level of mental fortitude to do this again and again voluntarily. You will learn a lot about yourself through strength training, including how to push through even when you think you can’t do it. That “never quit” attitude will translate into other areas of your life as well, just like the confidence.
- Improved Bone Density. As we age our bones can begin to become more brittle. When this breakdown of the bone becomes serious, it results in a condition called osteoporosis. Osteoporosis can lead to an increased likelihood of fractures resulting from falls or, in serious cases, from merely bumping into things. This process of bone loss occurs more rapidly in women. Regular, heavy-strength training has been shown to not only slow this process of bone loss through adulthood, but can even improve bone density. Strength training will not only create stronger muscles, but stronger bones as well.
- Increased Level of “Fitness Independence.” I define fitness independence as one’s ability to walk into a gym and successfully carry out a fitness program without outside guidance. This includes having a sufficient repertoire of exercises which you know how to do correctly, knowing how to use the equipment, and being confident that you know what you are doing. By following a basic strength training program, you will become very proficient at the most fundamental exercises in fitness, and experience will increase your mental exercise library. In other words, you will be able to confidently walk into any gym and know you can get a great workout on your own.
Participating in a regular strength training program can provide numerous benefits that you would not gain from cardio alone. I understand starting a program with weights can be scary in the beginning, and I recommend working with a trainer to make sure you are performing the exercises correctly. If you would like help getting started with a program, contact us by clicking here and schedule a consultation. Additionally, if you know how to perform the exercises but need help creating a program suitable for your goals and lifestyle, check out our online fitness coaching!
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