08 Feb Why Strong is the New Skinny: The Importance of Resistance Training for Women
“I want to tone up but I’m scared I’ll get too muscly”
“Lifting weight will make me bulky”
Every conversation I have in the changing room tends to be around lifting heavy weights. 4 years ago (when I first started), women weren’t interested in hitting the weights room, exercise was cardio, classes or a combination of both. The heaviest weights were brightly coloured 5 kg plates used for pump classes.
The last few years has seen a shift, more women are starting to hit the weights and seeing the kind of results that simply aren’t achievable from the classroom. That being said, most women are still very wary to follow suit as they think they will get very muscular and bulky and this is definitely NOT the case!
The problem is the misconception of how challenging it really is for women to build large bulky muscles. I can tell you from experience how much time, food and heavy weight was needed to grow a big booty (something I am very proud of). The goal for 95% of women is to feel fitter, stronger and toned in all the right places. Something that luckily, takes a much less intense approach and is achievable for everyone.
How you train is hugely important when looking for your ideal body BUT and this is a big BUT… This is secondary to the amount and quality of food you eat! There are massive health benefits that can come only from lifting weights. When you combine this with increased strength, fat burning and muscle toning it makes it an essential component for any training program. So, if your programmes missing it, you’re missing out!!
Here are my top 5 reasons for women to lift weights
You will lose body fat
As your lean muscle increases, so does your resting metabolism (the rate that your body burns calories), and you burn more calories all day long. Generally speaking, for each pound of muscle you gain, you burn 35 to 50 more calories each day.
This means, as you tone and sculpt your body (not get bulky), you will be burning more fat on a daily basis with no extra exercise #winning!
You will gain strength without bulk
Researchers have found that unlike men, women typically don’t gain size from strength training, because compared to men, women have 10 to 30 times less of the hormones that cause muscle hypertrophy. You will, however, develop muscle tone and definition. This is a bonus!
You will reduce the risk of injury, back pain and arthritis
Strength training not only builds stronger muscles, but also builds stronger connective tissues and increases joint stability. This acts as reinforcement for the joints and helps prevent injury.
A recent 12-year study showed that strengthening the lower-back muscles had an 80 percent success rate in eliminating or alleviating lower-back pain. Other studies have indicated that weight training can ease the pain of osteoarthritis and strengthen joints.
You will improve attitude and fight depression
I now see my training sessions as the best form of meditation. I can focus 100% on myself, measure my progress as I get stronger and benefit from the release of natural endorphins (feel good hormones). On tough days when I’m feeling stressed to the max, weight training sessions are my 1 non-negotiable! A Harvard study found that 10 weeks of strength training reduced clinical depression symptoms more successfully than standard counselling did. Women who strength train commonly report feeling more confident and capable as a result of their programme, all important factors in fighting depression.
You will get more benefit than just doing standard cardio
Cardio, as with all other training methods, is a tool. When used properly alongside other training methods can be great for keeping fit, healthy and burn a little fat. The problem comes when we see this as the main or only method of training.
Standard cardio does burn calories and does burn fat but, unfortunately, it doesn’t burn a lot of either. Fat is very calorie-dense and your body can go a very long way on very little fuel – especially when that fuel is fat. One kilogram of fat is worth around 7,700 calories which will provide enough energy to run approximately 120 kilometres. Not great numbers for fat loss.
Also, cardio can cause your body to try and preserve fat (which your body views as a precious resource) by using muscle for fuel instead. This means that while all that cardio will help you lose a little weight, your fat to muscle ratio could remain unchanged and, as a result, you just end up skinny-fat instead of improving muscle tone.
“What if I can’t get to the gym?”
I appreciate that getting to the gym can be challenging for some people. All you need for a good resistance workout is a set of dumbbells and the exercises you can do with them are endless. Dumbbells are always the first addition to a gym setup because they are incredibly versatile. Home users have missed out on this though as a decent set can cost £1,000’s and take up huge amounts of room. We love to use Selectabells because the weight goes from 4.5kg all the way up to 22.5kg and takes up less room than your Swiss ball. Simply slide, click and lift to select your weight and your good to go! You can purchase these here at Powerhouse Fitness.
To sum up …
Whether you’re sculpting your summer bod, building your booty, reducing back pain or combating stress… lifting weights as a woman is an amazing tool and something we should all be doing! On top of this, it is super important to look for a diet or lifestyle that is sustainable!
The best way to get where you want to be, is to create habits that support your body and your goals, habits that you can work on every single day! Don’t go at it alone! Let us guide you through you journey, reach out to us [email protected] or check our personalised online coaching packages here.
Emily’s passion in life is health and fitness and helping others achieve their goals. She believes that living a healthy lifestyle with regular exercise can change the way we feel about ourselves mentally and physically. Professional Dancer turned Bodybuilder – Emily now applies her skills to personal training, helping others achieve their goals, no matter what they are.