Updated: Sep 29
For years women have avoided the weight rack. Why? For fear of bulking up, looking masculine, intimidation, or the misconception that cardio is the best way to achieve weight loss. Well it's time to debunk the myths and shed some light on some pretty great strength training benefits!
You might be surprised to learn that strength training is an important part of maintaining your overall health, especially as you age. Muscular strength supports agility, balance and coordination and empowers our ability to perform everyday activities while simultaneously reducing our risk of injury. And for those seeking fat loss, increased muscle mass equals increased metabolic burn! That means the more lean muscle mass you have, the more efficiently the body is at burning calories. Starting to see strength training through new eyes? Ok, let's dig a little deeper, bust through those myths and explore all the great reasons you should add strength training to your regular fitness routine!
The top 5 misconceptions of strength training:
1. Weight lifting is for men. The idea that the weight room is only for men is simply outdated. Statistics show that more and more women are adding weight training to their fitness routine. Why? Because they are realizing all the great health & fitness benefits that come with it! Regular strength training enables the ability to build lean muscle mass, which in turn promotes increased caloric burn, enhances body composition, improves balance, coordination and even posture - all of which are especially important as we age!
2. You're going to bulk up. Statistically speaking, women are just not physiologically made to build muscle mass like men. In general, women have 15 to 20 times lower testosterone levels than men, therefore the chance that a woman will become "bulky" just by adding weights to her fitness routine is highly unlikely. Instead, adding weight empowers a woman's ability to create feminine curves and a overall toned physique. Bottom line, if a women's goal is to "bulk up" they will need to train specifically for it, often utilizing some form of supplementation in order to achieve it.
3. Cardio burns more calories than strength training. Endless hours spent on the treadmill, stair master or elliptical may be great for heart health but it won't whittle the middle. Many women think they need to invest in hours of cardio in order to drop unwanted pounds before ever considering adding weights to their routine. But in fact, strength training builds muscle - and muscle burns more calories! Studies show that women who regularly engage in strength training activity will burn nearly 50% more calories than their cardio queen counterparts. That translates to about an extra 100 calories expended per day - even when the body is at rest!
4. You need a gym membership. Home based workouts can be a great alternative to the gym when you have the right tools. Invest in a few dumbbells, varying strengths of resistance bands and maybe even a medicine ball and you're off to a great start! As you feel more confident in your strength training abilities, try joining a small group fitness class or exploring your local gym to gain fitness ideas, add challenge and variety to your workout routine and continue reaping those great muscular benefits!
5. It takes a lot of time. Unlike endless hours of cardio several days a week, strength training sessions can make a big difference in half the time. The American Heart Association recommends adults engage in strength training at least 2 times per week. Don't have an hour to devote to the weights? Even just 10minutes a day have been shown to result in improved health and fitness! Not sure where to start? Set a goal to exercise each muscle group at least two times per week, incorporating 1-2 rest days between workouts to reduce risk of injury. When training a muscle group strive to complete 8 to 12 repetitions of the exercise, working muscles to their fatigue. If you are new to strength training, recruiting a personal trainer to help create a plan and ensure its safe and effective implementation are recommended.
Flip the script with these 5 strength training benefits:
Inactive adults experience an average loss of 3 - 8 percent muscle mass per decade as they age.
Resistance training has been shown to increase resting metabolism an average of 7 percent.
Regular strength training helps to reduce body fat, build muscle mass and burn calories more efficiently,
Engaging in regular strength training is a key component to supporting a healthy weight.
Strength training has the ability to preserve and enhance muscle mass as well as bone mass - regardless of your age!
Bottom line - weight lifting is a part of a well-balanced health and fitness routine. Adding strength training to your fitness routine can offer a wide variety of benefits, from maintaining muscle mass to enhancing caloric burn and supporting a healthy waistline. It's time to bust through the myths and embrace the dumbbells!