Women and strength training: Look good and feel good
As a woman myself, I understand the hesitations about using the weight room. The machines can seem complicated and there are typically more men than women, which can feel a bit intimidating. With so many options and feeling as though everyone (but you) knows what they’re doing, the extent of your exercise program may end up being a simple treadmill workout.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
So, strength training … let’s first understand what it is. Strength training is all about building strength through progressive resistance exercises. In other words, lifting heavier things over time.
Demystifying strength training
• Muscular gains: “I don’t want to bulk up.”
Bulking up takes a lot of effort as a woman, especially as we age. If you are steering clear of weights because you worry about adding excessive muscle, then stop. To do so, it would take you years, a complete change of diet, and lifting nearly every day! Rather, what you will gain from adding strength training into your program is lean tissue, extra bone density and a revved up metabolism. And who doesn’t want that?
• Weights and injuries: “I’m sore … I think I’m injured.”
Starting out with a tailored program will help you to avoid injuries and prevent unwanted strains. Soreness will happen, but it doesn’t mean that you are injured. Of course, there’s a ‘good hurt’ and a ‘bad hurt,’ so be in tune with your body – listen to what it’s telling you.
• Machines vs. free weights: “I don’t know what to do.”
My suggestion to a beginner is to start on the machines. They have simple pins to change the weights and are designed to keep your body in the right form. There’s always room for error, however, so be sure to go through them once with a trainer. After a four-week program to get your body used to the weights, then consider adding in some free weights.
The most beneficial part of using free weights is their activation of smaller supporting muscles. Ligaments and tendons will be challenged more for stability. You may find when using your limbs separately that one arm may be stronger than the other. This is a good indicator of imbalances that need to be addressed.
It is not cliché to say that everyone is unique and has different needs – it’s simply true. Find a fitness professional who you can trust to help you develop a strength training program that fits your lifestyle and makes you feel good!
Tips to get the most out of your workout
- Anyone, at any age and at any time, can start strength training. Get started!
- Learn proper form and technique – a certified trainer should put emphasis on this.
- Use a program tailored to your needs, taking into account any health issues or injuries.
- Strength training will increase your metabolism. Eat real food … enough said!
- Be patient and stay committed – improving overall health takes time.
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