Let’s get this out of the way right up front:
Yes, strength training is important for women.
There’s a very outdated school of thought that lifting weights is solely a male domain. Many women report feeling intimidated by the weights area, or fear getting “bulky.” (For the record, we don’t believe there’s anything wrong with any body type.) Some women have been told that strength training is hard on joints, or that it’s dangerous.
We’re here to set the record straight. Strength training can be an incredibly beneficial part of your exercise routine, with serious benefits for your body. It may even be more effective than cardio for weight loss. And there’s no reason to be afraid of strength training. Here’s a quick overview of strength training and how to make it work for you.
What is strength training?
Strength training isn’t just about curling dumbbells. It refers to anything that creates resistance, including weight machines, free weights, and even using your own bodyweight as resistance.
How could it be more effective than cardio for weight loss?
Strength training builds lean muscle, and more lean muscle means your body will burn more calories even when you’re at rest. (Yep, you can amp up your calorie burn while sitting on the couch.)
Plus, a hard-core strength training session ramps up your post-workout calorie burn as your muscles demand oxygen to repair and recover.
When you jump off the treadmill, the calorie burn is over. But a strength training workout is the gift that keeps on giving.
What else can strength training do for me?
Maybe you aren’t interested in winning any arm wrestling contests, but strength training still provides huge advantages. Weight-bearing exercise has been shown to protect your bones, decreasing the risk of osteoporosis. And don’t be fooled into thinking that cardio is the only workout that can benefit your heart and lungs—you can get serious cardiovascular benefits from a high-intensity strength session. Plus you’ll sleep better afterward. (Too sore to relax? That means you’re building muscle, which is great—but consider signing up for a massage or trip to the steam room or sauna, and don’t forget to stretch and take rest days! A foam roller can help, too.)
How do I get started?
Like any exercise routine, it’s important to get the thumbs up from your doctor before getting started. And any new workout can leave someone prone to injuries if they don’t get proper guidance. Don’t be afraid to tap into the expertise of a personal trainer who can show you the ropes and help create a routine that’s tailor made for you, your schedule, your interests, and your goals.