The Benefits Of Strength Training For Women
I can't tell you how many times I've heard women talk about their fear of bulking up when it comes to using weights or strength training. So what do they all do? Cardio. Don't get me wrong, cardio has it's place, but we need to remember that (ESPECIALLY after kids) it's crucial to make strength training a part of your fitness plan, if you want to see and feel some REAL changes.
Like many of you, I was intimidated by weights and thought I’d bulk up with strength training. I was SO WRONG. About a year ago I learned the truth about weights and it transformed by body - so I'm here to help educate and inspire you to do the same!
Unless you’re pumping testosterone into your body, feeding yourself a few thousand extra calories a day along with lifting HEAVY, strength training will NOT make you look like a professional bodybuilder. It’s just not part of our DNA. Literally! Men have about ten times more testosterone than women (which is a crucial part of muscle building) so it’s almost impossible to bulk up the way guys like Arnold can.
Reshaping - if you really want to sculpt and change you body, strength training is for you. Cardio will only take you so far and tends to just eliminate a layer of fat. Sounds nice, right? Well once that fat layer is gone you’re still left with flabby muscles, if you haven’t been strength training. Flabby muscles = flat bum, jiggly arms, saggy boobs….you get the picture.
Burns More Fat And Calories - Wait. What?! How? It’s all about the “afterburn”. Your body is more fatigued after strength training and will need more recovery time = calorie and fat burning time! Strength training improves your resting metabolism - as in when you’re sitting on the couch doing nothing, your body is still buzzing and burning away! Um, yes please!
Bone Health - Any mommas out there? Did you know that pregnancy and breastfeeding can cause bone loss? Yikes! That’s why we take prenatal vitamins, they tend to be jam packed with calcium to help with this. If you want to reduce the risk of osteoporosis, bring on the weights! Strength training is proven to increase bone mass, which means lowering the risk of osteoporosis.
Decreases Risk Of Injury - Let’s face it, the older we get the more prone to injury we become. This isn’t high school anymore (tear). BUT if you focus on muscle development now, the payoffs are HUGE! Stronger muscles, ligaments, bones and tendons are a lovely effect of strength training. What does that mean? It means everything is in proper alignment, your bones and joints are protected and your ligaments will be better at absorbing shock.
Preserves Muscle Mass - Did you know that muscle mass decreases and fat increases as you age? AGH! Take a look at this picture below to understand why this isn’t great. When you strength train you grow and develop muscles which means you avoid muscle loss. There's a BIG difference between 5lbs of muscle and 5lbs of fat. Which would you prefer? Hmmmm...
How Can You Begin?
Well for starters, you don’t need a weight room in a gym! Here are some ideas you can do at home...
Body Weight - squats, lunges, push ups, hip bridges, planks, donkey kicks, burpees... SO MANY OPTIONS. (Be careful of moves like planks and burpees if you're pregnant or have diastasis recti - more on that here).
Resistance Bands - These are light, cheap and easy to travel with. I've collected a bunch of these over the years and always go back to them.
Suspension Straps - I love these straps from X Bands, they come in so many fun colors too! These are incredibly versatile and have taken me through all 3 pregnancies, as you may have seen on my Instagram page.
Free weights - I recommend starting with 5 and 10 pound weights. I always do lower body with at least 10lbs, but take your time to get there if you're not used to exercising with weights.
With strength training will come sore muscles but that's a GOOD thing so don't let it deter you! Be sure to stretch (at least 10 minutes), foam roll and have adequate protein afterwards to help with recovery (I usually have a shake with 25g of whey protein).
You're going to feel stronger, energized and more confident when you start committing to strength training. Nothing beats the feeling of showing your kids that moms can be powerful and superhero strong so let's do this!