The Benefits of Strength Training for Women
Strength training is beneficial for adults of all ages, but many women avoid it either because of a fear of getting large muscles or knowing about the benefits of strength training. Women will not get large muscles through strength training unless they intend to because their hormones are not conducive to muscle growth. Dispelling the myth of getting large muscles still leaves the question of why should women make an effort to do strength training?
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The Benefits of Strength Training
Muscle mass decreases with age and physical inactivity. That means people get fatter unless they exercise to maintain or enhance their muscle mass. Muscle is a case of “Benefit it or lose it.”
According to the Mayo Clinic, the benefits of strength training include:
- Reduction of body fat
- Increased lean muscle mass
- Burning calories more efficiently
- Developing strong bones; bone density increases, and the risk of osteoporosis decreases
- Weight control; more muscle means a higher metabolism and more calories burned each day
- Protecting joints from injury
- Increased stamina
- Better management of chronic medical conditions such as arthritis, depression, diabetes, back pain, obesity, and osteoporosis
- Improved focus and attention among older adults
These strength training benefits are especially significant for women and older adults at higher risk of several conditions, from obesity to diabetes and osteoporosis.
Strength Training Goals for Women
Setting specific, achievable goals for strength training can motivate women and get them on a realistic program. Possible purposes might be:
- Increase upper body strength by 100% or more within three months
- Increase core strength by 50% or more within three months
- Increase lower body strength by 25% or more within three months.
These are short-term goals, but for improvements in muscular strength and endurance to be maintained, strength training should be continued as a permanent lifestyle change and be performed on two non-consecutive days per week.
Be sure to get Confirmed from your doctor before beginning any new exercise program.
Strength Training Options for Women
Women can choose among free weights (dumbbells and barbells), weight machines in a gym, exercise bands, or bodyweight exercises. All of these different modes can be effective. There are also strength training videos that can be followed, including aerobic conditioning with light strength training.
Whichever method is chosen, consistency is essential; strength training should be performed two or three non-consecutive days per week. Multiple sets can be performed after an initial conditioning period of eight to twelve weeks.
One set should consist of 10 to 15 repetitions of eight to ten different exercises such as squats; calf raises, abdominal crunches, biceps curls, triceps extensions, etc. See the Mayo Clinic’s Strength Training Video Collection under References for more information on specific strength training exercises and how to do them.
Put Strength Training on the Calendar
Women need to commit to two or three strength training sessions per week (on non-consecutive days) and schedule them on the calendar for specific days and times each week. Greater muscular strength and endurance will make daily tasks easier, boost metabolism to help control weight, and provide a host of other health benefits. Plus, lean and toned muscles help women to look good and feel better about themselves.