Many women shy away from weight lifting for fear of gaining muscle mass and looking “manly.” This could not be further from the truth.
As women age, their metabolisms naturally decline; however, by adding strength training to a workout program, this decrease can be slowed or even reversed. In addition, bone density increases from weight bearing exercise and muscles gain strength.
1. It’s a waste of time
Women often get hung up on the idea that they will bulk up like a bodybuilder or become injured lifting weights. These fears are understandable but largely unfounded.
In reality, most women have significantly less testosterone than men and will not build muscle to the point of being considered ‘bulky.’ Rather, total-body strength training can help strip fat covering muscles to create that lean, feminine look.
Besides the aesthetic changes, incorporating regular strength training also prevents the metabolic decline that occurs with age. This means that you can eat more and exercise more without seeing your metabolism slow down.
Another great benefit of strength training is the improvement in bone density that occurs as a result. This can significantly reduce the risk of osteoporosis later in life. This is particularly important for postmenopausal women. It also increases flexibility and balance, both of which are essential for reducing the risk of injuries as you age.
2. It’s dangerous
Women are increasingly embracing the benefits of strength training. Disillusioned with elusive results from hours of cardio, they are adding weights to their workouts to strengthen and tone their muscles. They are also reaping health benefits like increased bone density, better sleep and a healthier heart.
Lifting heavier weights will lead to a greater muscle mass, aka “hypertrophy,” but it is not dangerous for women to train in this way. It is actually safer than engaging in yard work or participating in team sports because lifting heavy weights puts more demand on the body for a sustained amount of time, which helps prevent injury.
However, many women worry that they will become a hulking she-hulk as they continue to lift heavier weights. It is not easy to build a significant amount of muscle, as it requires years of training and the right nutrition to do so. Plus, women’s bodies produce a lower level of testosterone than men do, which makes it harder for them to build muscle.
3. It’s not for me
Women’s bodies produce only 10% of the testosterone that men do, so they can’t build muscle enough to become “bulky.” However, a total-body weight training program done regularly without too much volume will strip the fat off your muscles, giving you that lean, feminine shape many women desire.
Women need functional strength to get through the day, whether it’s carrying kids or hauling luggage at an airport, and weight training can help. Plus, incorporating regular weight training can improve balance and reduce the risk of injury.
Women of all ages can benefit from strength training. But, it’s important for women to start lifting weights under the supervision of a qualified fitness professional to avoid injury and ensure proper technique. It’s also important to gradually increase the weight, sets and reps over time in order to continue to see results and keep challenging yourself. In post-menopausal women, strength training may be less effective because of a reduction in circulating anabolic hormones and muscle satellite cells; however, it’s still possible to achieve great results with a properly planned training program.
4. I’m too old
You don’t need to be a bodybuilder or deadlift 2x your weight to benefit from regular strength training. Because women produce less testosterone than men, they will not get “bulky.” But they will increase their lean muscle mass and sculpt a more toned physique. The best part is that the results of strength training don’t just improve your appearance – they extend to other areas, too.
The biggest benefit of lifting heavy is that it boosts your resting metabolism. This is an important factor in preventing the gradual loss of muscle that starts around age 30 (aka sarcopenia) and accelerates after menopause due to declining levels of estrogen.
Women have been disillusioned with the elusive benefits of endless hours of cardio training and are now adding more resistance-training-based workouts to their routines. They are noticing significant positive outcomes, including a healthy and more sculpted physique, improved movement patterns, boosted energy levels and decreased injuries. They are also extending their health and longevity by decreasing the risk of osteoporosis and other chronic diseases.