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Do Real Women Lift Weights?

It’s so great to see how many women I see at our club participating in a strength training regime.

Not too long ago it would have been unusual to see a female in the weight room, working out with the boys.

Nowadays women are much more educated on the benefits of strength training in a balanced fitness program. If you do not regularly strength train perhaps some answers to frequently asked questions will inspire you.

Does weight training cause a woman to bulk up? No. Women do not possess the amount of testosterone required to build big, bulky muscles. On average, we only have about one-tenth of an average male’s amount.

Will weight training cause weight gain? Initially the pounds on the scale may (or may not) show a slight increase. This is due to the muscle tissue being heavier than fat. As you strength train you will increase your lean body mass and probably decrease your body fat. The best advice I can give is to stay away from your scale for the first 4 to 6 weeks to allow your weight to stabilize. Use your clothing as a gauge of your success in changing your body composition. Your weight will stabilize and you will lose weight while weight training after the initial adjustment, so be patient. As you increase your body’s lean mass percentage your metabolism will increase and you will be a more efficient fat burning machine – not just while exercising, but all the time!

Can I spot reduce?  I want to work on my upper arms and thighs. Unfortunately you can’t spot reduce. Your body and genetics will decide where and when you will lose weight first. If you are following a good nutrition plan and exercising both aerobically and via strength training, you will lose weight throughout your entire body, we just can’t say where it will happen first, and in what amounts. The good news is that you absolutely can work on problem areas with a strength training program. Using simple weight training principles, you can target muscles that need ‘toning’ and ‘defining’. Keep in mind that if you have a higher percentage of body fat you may not see the definition as it may be covered.

I don’t want to lose weight or tone. Is there any other good reason to strength train as a woman? YES! There are many. Here are just a few:

  1. Decreases your risk of osteoporosis: inactivity and aging can lead to a decrease in bone density, leading to brittleness. Studies have shown that consistent strength training can increase bone density and may help to prevent osteoporosis.
  2. Improves your balance and stability: to put it simply, less risk of falling or debilitating accidents.
  3. Functional strength: the ability to perform daily living activities, like lifting, bending, reaching, etc. without injury or pain.
  4. Low back pain prevention: strength training with specific attention to the core can greatly reduce the incidence of low back pain.
  5. Posture: a balanced, strong body enables a woman to stand erect and hold the shoulder girdle in a neutral, retracted position and lessen the possibility of development of the ‘dowagers hump’ a rounding of the cervical spine in post-menopausal women.

Next article we’ll go over some tips on strength training for women. Whether you’re experienced or just starting, by applying some simple principles you will be on the way to a healthier body, both inside and out.

Nina Heyes


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