Some women prefer not to do strength training when they go to the gym. Many believe that strength training will make them bulk up and look like body builders, and they prefer to keep their shape slim and trim. Others prefer to do hours of cardio training, thinking that this burns more calories and will therefore make them lose weight faster. Whatever the reason, you don't see a whole lot of women hitting the weights at the gym. According to research, though, strength training can be essential to women's health, and to attaining that slim, toned body everyone wants.
What is strength training?
Strength training is simply using weights as part of an exercise routine. This can mean using the dumbbells and other free weights in the weight room, or using the weight machines that control your range of motion. Another great way to get strength training in a workout is to do circuit training, where you do a specific exercise for a few minutes and then move to another exercise. Moves like push-ups and sit-ups are also considered strength training exercises.
Myths and Realities
Many women do not like to incorporate strength training into their workout routine because they fear that lifting weights will make them look masculine and make their muscles bulky. This couldn't be further than the truth. Women don't have as much testosterone as men in their bodies, and that means that they physically cannot build up as much muscle as men can. Another myth that keeps women from strength training properly is that, if women do lift weights, they should be light weights and they shouldn't train very hard. This is also untrue.
Again, due to the lack of testosterone, building muscle with heavy weights will not add to a bulky appearance. Finally, many women believe that, if they start strength training, see some results, and then stop, that the muscle they have built up will turn to fat. The truth is that muscle doesn't turn to fat. That is physically impossible. Of course, if you stop a weight training routine, you will probably see a drop in muscle tone. This is only natural. If you don't use the muscles, you lose them, but they are not turning into fat.
Benefits for Women
Strength training can be extremely beneficial, especially for women. It can increase bone density, which helps fight against osteoporosis - a disease that can make bones brittle later in life. Lifting weights can also help increase your metabolism, which can help you burn those calories faster. Having muscle mass increases the amount of calories you burn during a day. This is very important if you are trying to lose weight. In the same vein, of course, increased muscle mass can give you that toned look you want from going to the gym.
Lifting weights can also help prevent injury by strengthening muscles and decreasing the risk of pulling or tearing a muscle. It can also increase your balance, which can help prevent injury due to falling over. Furthermore, if you have already been injured, strength training can help rehabilitate your injured muscle. Building strength around an injury is the best way to ensure that the muscle builds back up again and can be used normally after an injury.
Exercises to Try
Aside from the normal push-ups, sit-ups, bicep curls, and tricep extensions, there are some great exercises out there that utilize weights to get your muscles working. Try taking a weight in each hand and doing alternating lunges by stepping back and dipping your back knee toward the ground. Or try shoulder presses: take a weight in each hand and push your arms up like you're trying to touch the sky. These are great exercises for a few problem areas.