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Even nowadays, there aren’t many women who include strength training in their daily exercise routines, although it’s true that little by little more and more women are being encouraged to try group classes or exercises that include weights such as Body Pump and Crossfit.
The Reason Why Women Don’t Do Strength Training
Many of you have told me on more than one occasion that the reason why you don’t like to do strength training is that you’re worried about bulking up and being too muscular. However, this is a common misconception about strength training. Working with weights won’t greatly increase your muscle mass (hypertrophy) which makes you look masculine or like you’re an Olympic lifter. To do that, you would have to train very hard and with much more weight than you could imagine. However, by working out with normal weights you will see natural and neutral improvements, that is to say, your muscles will be more efficient and you will notice when carrying out your daily tasks become easier like, carrying your grocery bags, climbing stairs, running to catch the bus, etc.
Cardio Vs Strength Training
It’s common to see when you step into a gym that more men are in the bodybuilding area and the women are usually in the machine area of the gym. When compared to cardio (running, cycling), much more established training like strength training, among women, increases post-workout oxygen flow. What does that mean? It relates to your caloric expenditure.
With strength training exercises, after we finish, we increase our circulation, heart rate, and ventilation. You also improve your hormone balance, increase the thermogenic effect, and cause changes to your metabolism. The results of which for up to 72 hours after your strength training. This means that we continue burning fat for up to 72 hours after we have finished our strength training. The same thing indeed happens in cardio workouts but only when it’s high intensity.
So you may be wondering if you should stop doing the cardio training that you are used to and just head straight to the weight room. The answer is no, you simply have to combine the two workouts so that you maximize the benefits. A good option is to dedicate half the time to your strength training exercises and the other half to your cardiovascular exercises.
Benefits of Strength Training
Why is strength training so important? To be honest, several benefits of strength training are particularly important for women, especially after menopause:
- Increase of basal metabolic rate: A greater amount of muscle mass, means greater energy expenditure, and not only during your work out but also when your body is at rest. This means that even when you’re resting on the couch you will be burning much more calories than if you did any other type of training, and of course, many more calories than if you led a sedentary life. Muscles are the “engine” of the body; If we have no muscle mass, we cannot burn fat.
- One of the most outstanding benefits is that it slows bone demineralization: After we finish growing the demineralization process begins, that is, the bones become less dense and more fragile as we age. Bones are living tissue, and are constantly regenerating. Regeneration occurs thanks to the different pressures that the muscles perform, even more so when they are in the process of demineralization. No matter how much calcium we take our bone density will never come back, we can only stop the bone demineralization process through working our muscles. Therefore, strength training is not only essential to maintain healthy bones, but it is vitally important in women, and even more so in postmenopausal women, due to the high risk of osteoporosis. That’s right, strength training is one of the most important ways to curb osteoporosis.
- It’s the best way to fight and prevent arthritis. Arthritis is caused by the overuse of the joint. Our muscle mass is in charge of taking on the loads that our joints are subjected to. For example, supporting our body weight when we walk, run, or climb stairs. If enough muscle mass is not present than our joints take on that weight which wears out the cartilage. If we have enough muscle mass then that leaves our joints free from this load and as a result, they will stop hurting.
- Increase Insulin Sensitivity: Strength training, thanks to energy demands on the muscles helps optimize and regulate insulin production and sensitivity making it a great help to diabetics, especially those who are type 2.
- Improves the quality of life: By improving your strength you improve your overall endurance to do your usual daily tasks. This is especially important for senior citizens when going up the stairs or getting on a bus might already be a challenge.
- Helps to prevent injuries: Injuries happen when our muscles work harder than they can handle. By increasing your muscle mass you will be able to withstand heavier loads and more work. This is not just useful to athletes; sitting in front of a computer for 8 hours a day puts a lot of strain on your neck, shoulder, and back muscles, therefore if you have more muscle mass you will avoid injuring those muscles and having pain throughout the day.
I know that many times the problem is a lack of time and resources. However, strength training can be done at home for just 30 minutes. All you need is a chair, a wall and your own body weight at different positions so that it’s more challenging to do squats, push-ups or other types of exercises. This is easy to do and luckily you can find a lot of online videos for at-home workouts with all kinds of different exercises. If you liked this post, we recommend checking out these other similar ones:
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