Strength training is an important part of improving your overall fitness, and for women, it can mean much more. In addition to numerous health benefits, adding weights to your routine can become a form of personal development that builds strength in all areas of life. Join us over the next two weeks as we celebrate strength training and the strength of all women, no matter their size or life circumstance.
When I was a teenager my grandmother used to tell me to stop lifting weights—it wasn’t lady-like, and the weight room should be a place for men. Several years later, she developed serious osteoporosis that put her in a wheelchair. Although most of the lessons she taught me were valuable, we eventually came to the mutual agreement that lifting weights is a wonderful thing for women to do. Today more and more females are recognizing the benefits of spending time in the weight room.
1. Boost your metabolism naturally.
By adding muscle through strength training (even just a little bit), your resting metabolic rate (i.e., the amount of calories you burn daily by just existing) also increases. Athletes are calorie-burning machines even when they are not exercising.
2. Protect your knees.
Women have a wider pelvis than men, which creates a larger angle at which the femur meets the tibia, also known as the “Q-angle.” This larger angle leads to an amplified chance for ACL injuries— up to 10 times greater than men. Building hip strength through movements such as squats and lunges has been shown to decrease this risk.
3. Gain more independence.
Isn’t it nice to be able to put your luggage in the overhead compartment without the help of the man sitting behind you? Let’s smash the stereotype of men being the only ones who are able to help move furniture and get heavy jobs done!
4. Maintain bone density.
Due to dropping levels of estrogen, postmenopausal women are prone to osteoporosis. Numerous studies show a positive relationship between resistance training and bone density. When bone feels the “pull” from the muscles, bone growth is stimulated. Not only can strength training offset bone loss, it can actually cause an increase in bone density in women who regularly lift weights.
5. Elevate mood.
Women are twice as likely to develop clinical depression as men, yet two-thirds of these women do not do anything to combat these feelings. The release of norepinephrine, dopamine and serotonin during resistance training chemically helps exercisers acheive a feeling of well-being. Weight training also leads to an increase in energy, better sleep patterns, and a feeling of accomplishment and control.
6. Improve posture.
Combat a kyphotic (hunched over) posture by strengthening the backside of the body. Proper posture leads to injury prevention and better power transfer in athletics. And let’s face it, you just look better when you stand up straight (your mother was right!).
7. Shape without the bulk.
Due to their lower levels of testosterone, it is very difficult for women to develop large, bulky muscles. Instead of the bulk, most women tend to build a nice hourglass figure—curves we can be proud of!
8. Move better for longer.
By strengthening muscles and improving bone density, women who spend time in the weight room are typically active for longer periods of time. Increased hip and leg strength aid in mobility and balance, and upper-body strength helps combat postural issues that can lead to back and shoulder injuries.
9. Become a better athlete.
Gone are the days when coaches worried that lifting weights would build bulky muscles that would weigh down athletes. Strength training can lead to better functional movement, explosive power, durability and, of course, greater overall strength.
10. The bottom line.
Let’s face it: As often as I spout out all of these benefits, I still have 9 out of 10 women coming into my office wanting a better butt. What is the best way to achieve a better butt? Squats. Lunges. Strength training. Period. Even my grandma would agree.