Weight training for women. Strength training. Resistance training. Using weight in your workouts has many monikers, however, the benefits to both immediate and long-term health are the same. If you want to reduce your belly fat and future-proof your body you need iron in your week as you do your diet
What is strength training?
Firstly, strength training refers to the act of increasing strength within your body. You can do this using weights or your own bodyweight. The biggest misconception is that when you increase strength you increase size – this is not always the case. You can train your muscles to be strong without adding mass.
Weight training for women – what are the benefits?
The female body is complex with many outward changes resulting from an inward shift – thank your female hormones for that. Before the big 3-0 you might not notice this, however, from 30 onwards lean body mass lessens. As weight training increases muscle mass and therefore your resting metabolism, when this diminishes so does the number of calories you need per day.
To counteract this atrophy, you need to embrace weight training.
A study of 35,754 healthy women published by Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise discovered that weight training for women lessens the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. But that’s not all. Women suffering from a low libido – the result of anti-anxiety medication – should lift weights. Back in 2013, the University of Texas at Austin published a study on strength training. Their findings? A 30-minute strength training session can boost your sex life.
Weight lifting for beginners, the big myths
We spoke to The Workshop Gymnasium strength training PT Niki Bird to get the truth about weight lifting for women and how to build ong, strong muscle.
Is weight-lifting the only answer to strength training? Can you use your own body weight to get the same results?
What about all those long, lithe women–are they lifting?
We had a lot of questions…
Myth: Weight Lifting Will Make You Bulky
TRUTH: You don’t have enough testosterone to build big muscles
Females have considerably less testosterone than males and because of this, it also affects the amount of muscle they are able to gain.
A total-body weight training programme, done regularly without too much volume, is an effective way to strip fat that is covering muscles giving that ‘toned’ appearance a lot of women desire.
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Myth: Strength Training Without Weights Isn’t Worth It
Truth: You weigh more than most barbells
To create length from strength training include single leg RDLs(Romanian Dead Lifts), inchworms (walking the hands from a forward fold into plank and back again) and high planks with alternate arm reaches into your workouts. Your bodyweight is enough resistance to stress your body to create change.
Myth: Strong Legs = Boxy Thighs
Truth: Only if you only work your quads
Glute bridges, RDL’s and back extensions are all great exercises for lengthening the legs. They can be done using body weight or made more challenging with resistance bands or weights.
Myth: Endless Crunches Will Get You Abs
Truth: You can’t spot reduce fat
Ab exercises alone won’t be what creates a toned looking stomach. You need exercises that will burn fat, which is where weight training comes in.
A combination of clean nutrition, good quality sleep, some high-intensity interval training (HIIT) cardio circuits such as Tabata training, alongside resistance training (lifting weights) will help you develop better abs.
Myth: Weight Is More Important Than Reps
Truth: It depends on your goal
Weight training can be practiced in many forms from powerlifting to high-volume training. Most beginners start with endurance training (12+ reps) to get used to the exercises, moving onto hypertrophy (6-12 reps) to build mass before dropping the reps to 1-5 in a power and strength session. That said, some women respond better to heavier weights with fewer reps, where some respond better to lighter weights and more reps.
You have to find out what works for your body.
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Myth: You need to do legs day on the leg press
Truth: There are lots of different body types and machines can be quite rigid in their set up.
Some people may have longer legs, shorter torso’s, and using free weights allows for the variability of body type.
Feeling inspired? Check out our myths debunked about weight lifting for women and the best weight lifting shoes.