Resistance Training For Women

By FitHubADL | In Fitness, News | on April 16, 2018

What is Resistance Training?

Resistance, or strength training, is any form of exercise that causes the skeletal muscles to contract. Typically this involves the body overcoming some form of resistance to perform a patterned, controlled movement. The muscular contractions that occur lead to increases in strength, endurance and muscle tone.

There are three basic types of resistance exercises:

  1. Bodyweight – Pull-ups, Push-ups, squats, lunges, etc. Your muscles are forced to contract against the weight of your own body and gravity.
  2. Weight Machines – Cable Machines, Leg Press, Lat Pulldown machines etc. Weight machines are a great way to isolate certain muscle groups and provide support to maintain correct posture, so you can solely focus on the movement you’re engaging in. This provides a safe option for those who are new to resistance training.
  3. Free Weights – Dumbbells, barbells, medicine balls and kettlebells, etc increase the strain placed on your muscles. Free weight training is considered the most effective form of resistance exercise, as it also engages stabilizing (support) muscles, working a larger range of muscles in one go.

Why Should I Include Resistance Training in my Routine?

Not only does regular resistance training bring tangible results, it’s mentally stimulating and can help protect the body against natural physiological changes that occur over time.

Here are the top four reasons why women should adopt regular resistance training into their workout program:

1. Weight training is key to losing fat

The most important factor in shifting unwanted weight is making sure you burn off more calories than you consume on a day-to-day basis. When you strength train, the muscles are broken down and rebuilt over the next 24-48 hours. While your body is rebuilding those muscles, it burns carbohydrates and body fat for energy. What this means is that your metabolism is lifted long after the workout ended.

The more muscle you have, combined with a good dietary intake, the higher your basal metabolic rate (meaning you’ll burn more calories over the course of a day).

As the muscles become stronger, you will burn the fat on top of your muscle, and develop the “toned” look.

2. It has a positive impact on bone density

Our bones reach their maximum strength and density by the age of 30. After menopause, most women are likely to experience a rapid decline in bone strength, and this decrease continues through post-menopause. The loss in bone mass can eventually lead to conditions such as osteoporosis, where the bones become fragile, susceptible to fractures and have diminished healing capacity.

Resistance Training from the age of 30 and over can help maintain sufficient bone density in women and help prevent the occurrence or severity of osteoporosis. For those who have reached menopausal age, this is an ideal time to start a resistance program if one hasn’t already done so. Studies have shown in post-menopausal women, strength training preserved bone density while improving muscle mass, strength, and balance.

Overall, this means strength training at any age will help the body adapt to the forces it will face every day, and benefit you during the later stages of life.

3. It Enhances Mood and Alleviates Stress

Strength training releases endorphins, powerful neurotransmitters that prevent pain, improve mood, and fight depression. Endorphins also stimulate the mind, improving alertness and reducing stress. This means adding some resistance training has the potential to change your entire day for the better!

Other Health Benefits from Resistance Training?

There are many other added bonuses to resistance training, such as:

  • You’ll develop increased strength in your back, shoulders, and core, with the combined result helping to correct bad posture and lower back pain.
  • Stronger ligaments, tendons and joints makes injury from daily tasks less likely, and may also alleviate pain from osteoarthritis.
  • Importantly, strength training helps in the fight against high cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, and inactivity (all factors for heart disease).

How can I Use Resistance Training to Achieve my Goals?

There are several ways to tailor resistance training for your desired outcome.

  • If muscular endurance and stamina are important, say for prolonged sporting requirements or you’d like to achieve a toned look, lifting light weights and higher repetitions (20+ repetitions) is the best strategy. You’ll develop lean muscle, but won’t build dense muscle.
  • If your aim is to develop greater muscle mass, strength and power, lifting heavier weights for fewer repetitions (6-10 repetitions) is more appropriate. As you become stronger, you’ll need to progress by continually increasing the weights to keep the body challenged.

It’s important to note, adopting the heavier weight, lower rep strategy will not result in an ‘Arnold’ body. Testosterone is the main muscle building hormone, and men possess around 7-8 times the amount of testosterone than women. So, although a larger amount of muscle mass is still gained, women will typically achieve more definition as opposed to bulk muscle mass.

So, there’s no better time than now to start adding some lifting movements into your sessions and build a stronger, healthier body and mind.

Rachel – Fitness Hub Personal Trainer

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