Strength Training for Women
The very first thing to make clear when talking about strength training for women, is that strength training does not mean body building. Strength training and lifting weights have many significant health benefits for women. The more obvious being, it will help them to lose body fat and build strength. But did you know that by including strength training in their exercise program at least twice per week women are also reducing their risk of getting osteoporosis, reducing their risk of injury, burning more calories, improving their mood and reducing their stress levels. Women who strength train also reduce their risk of developing cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
There are many myths that surround strength training in women. The most common one being; women lift heavy weights they are going to bulk up and start looking like a body builder. This is not the case. Women generally have to much oestrogen in their systems to build large amounts of muscle bulk. Unless women increase their testosterone levels and caloric intake drastically then lifting weights will not make them bulky. Instead they will gain muscle strength, they will burn more calories and in the long run they will see their bodies becoming more toned. The most important thing to remember is that by lifting weights women generally improve their muscular tone, strength and endurance all the while their muscle size stays very much the same.
Before starting a strength training program always remember that technique is very important to prevent injury. If you are new to strength training you can follow these simple instructions for beginners.
- Proper body alignment is an important component of strength training. When standing, feet should be shoulder width apart with knees slightly bent. Movement should be slow and controlled.
- Proper breathing techniques are essential when training. Never hold your breath. Inhale at the beginning of the lift and exhale during the release of each weight.
- You may sit or stand while participating in resistance training. Never use a resistance that is so heavy that it cannot be lifted at least eight repetitions per set. Heavy resistance can be dangerous and damage the skeletal and joint structures.
- It is recommended that every set consist of 8 to 12 repetitions per set. As you get stronger and want to increase your work load start by increasing the number of repetitions, and then, by increasing the weight.
- Limit each workout to one to two sets of these six different exercises. Make sure that all the major muscle groups are included in the training session.
- Don’t over-train. Two strength-training sessions per week are the minimum number to produce positive physiological adaptations and results.
If you still have questions about strength training and how to incorporate it into your exercise routine contact a Biokineticist or exercise professional for more guidance.
By Jennifer Steele