"I never want to look like that!"
"I don't want to be all bulky and have veins popping out."
"I still want to look feminine."
These are just a few of the reasons that women use when letting us trainers know that they want to steer clear of the barbells, kettlebells, and dumbbells. Unfortunately the popular misconception floating around is that women who strength train will end up looking like bodybuilders. Nothing could be further from the truth. The size, vascularity, and overall form of a female bodybuilder are all the product of hours of intense daily training, extreme dieting, and months or even years of dedication to their sport.
But enough about how far fetched it is that you will end up looking like that, let's focus on the positive and discuss the benefits of weight/strength training.
1. For starters, peak bone mass in women is generally reached at around 29 years of age. This means that beginning around the age of 30, women begin a gradual decline in their bone density. Although we can't completely stop bone loss, we can greatly slow it down. Strength training is one of the most effective ways to prevent bone loss in women. When your muscles are placed under stress through strength training this causes the muscles to pull on the bones in a way which helps to strengthen the bones. Training with free weights is also shown to increase peak bone mineral density.
2. Secondly, strength training can also lead to improved balance and strength overall which prevents falling which in turn will protect your bones from fractures and injuries.
3. Strength training is also proven to help women lose body fat. As your lean muscle mass increases your resting metabolism will also increase. This leads to more calories burned throughout the day.
4. Fourthly, training with free weights can help reduce your risk of diabetes. Research has shown that individuals who utilized free weights when strength training increased glucose utilization, which is a very scientific way of saying that your body will process sugars much more effectively.
5. Consistently training with weights can also lead to lowered LDL (bad cholesterol) and increased HDL (good cholesterol). This in turn translates to reducing your risk of heart disease. Who doesn't want to have a healthier heart?
6. Finally you will simply be stronger. While you may not be looking to shatter any Olympic lifting records, if we are all honest with ourselves we all know that we need to simply be strong for life.
Life can throw a curveball at you at any moment and if the strength isn't there, that's where people get injured. Carrying your children or running after them shouldn't have to be a physically exhausting task. You should be strong enough to carry the dog food in from the car or move a piece of furniture.
Unfortunately life doesn't cater to good intensions, you have to actively be working to improve your strength, if for no other reason than to be ready for LIFE.
Be strong for life.
~Sean Archulet, Personal Trainer