The average woman loses 3-8% of her muscle mass annually beginning at age 30, with the decline going even higher after age 60(1). Strength training, specifically lifting in a range that is challenging for you, is the best way to maintain your overall health and increase lean muscle. If one of your goals this year is to increase your strength and improve your body composition, be sure to include resistance training. Not convinced yet, here are a few benefits to resistance training, particularly for women.
- Strength training builds lean muscle.
Strength training is required for the ‘toned’ and defined physique most women are working to achieve. Contrary to popular belief, it is difficult for women to develop the same bulky, muscularity as men when lifting. Most programs involve the entire body and build core body strength and endurance. This helps improve posture and balance. Outside of the aesthetic benefits of weightlifting, these exercises contribute to increases in bone density. Women are at particularly high risk for osteoporosis later in life. Incorporating resistance training can help reduce the risk of fractures and breaks as you age.
- Strength training aids in weight loss & improved health
Lean muscle can help you lose weight and keep it off. Your body prefers muscle. Lifting heavy weights increases your NEAT (Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis). NEAT is calories burned throughout the day not through eating, sleeping or exercise. Because muscle tissue burns more calories than fat tissue, increasing your bodily strength will naturally raise your daily calorie burn; even when you are at rest. Regular strength training has been associated with a lower risk of most chronic health conditions. It can also be an effective tool to help manage symptoms of existing conditions.
- Makes everyday activities easier (train for life)
As a woman you likely lift heavy ‘weights’ in your daily life already. If you have small children you’re lifting and carrying them, diaper bags, infant carriers and toy bins several times each day. Even women without children will carry loads of groceries, full laundry baskets and even garbage on a daily basis without thinking about it. If you notice any of these daily activities getting more challenging, adding purposeful resistance training to your workouts is beneficial. Many women lift to improve their daily lives and make these everyday tasks easier.
- Improved mental health and confidence outside the gym
Anytime you set a goal and achieve it you build confidence in yourself. When you stand in front of a barbell loaded heavy and successfully lift and lower that weight you build confidence! Women who strength train face personal challenges each time they enter the gym. Battling yourself and pushing your body to do something difficult is an incredible confidence boost. Taking time out of your busy day to do something hard and come out stronger builds resilience and translates to other areas of your life.
Unsure where to start? If you don’t currently lift, start with something attainable, like weight training 2 days per week. Implement a push/pull split to cover your full body each week. Start with machines. They each have a guide on the machine outlining the movement and focused muscles. Use a weight that you can lift 8-10 times, but is challenging in the last few. Free weights (dumbells and barbells) offer a great workout and recruit other muscles during a movement. However, they also require some knowledge and experience to avoid injury. Below is a sample two day split with a core finisher for you to try.
Example lower/upper split
- Warm up: Bodyweight/TRX lunges or squats, TRX row, box/bench pushups
- Day 1: leg press or leg extension & leg curls, chest press & shoulder press
- Day 2: lat pull downs, seated row, bicep curls & tricep extensions
- Core finisher (add to either day or complete as a separate day): plank, dead bug, glute bridge & leg lifts
Still not feeling confident enough to start lifting? Work with one of the Evolve personal trainers! Our job is to help guide you and build your workouts to meet your individual goals. Working with a trainer can be a great way to add accountability to your workouts and learn new lifts and skills. Contact the gym or one of the trainers today!
Shelly is an Certified Evolve Personal Trainer
Interested in working with her? Send her an email to: email@example.com