Strength Training for Women
Once upon a time the gym was segregated into two main areas – the male/weights area and the female/cardio area. Nowadays it’s great to see more ladies lifting weights and building a fit body rather than pounding the treadmill relentlessly trying to “get skinny”. In all honesty, I used to be one of those treadmill pounders until I discovered weight training and started lifting consistently!
A big fear many women have is that lifting weights will make them ‘bulky’, however this is unlikely to happen because our hormonal profile is different to men. You just want that “toned” look right? That’s just pure muscle mass minus the fat. Weight training is one of the best ways to shape your body as it not only builds definition, but also allows you to burn more fat at rest making it easier to maintain your weight.
However, the benefits of strength training for women don’t stop there! There is also a myriad of other health benefits for women who lift weights, which I’ve outlined below.
Increased Bone Mineral Density (BMD)
Estrogen is protective of our bones and without it, our bone mineral density starts to decline putting us at higher risk of osteopenia and osteoporosis. Populations at high risk of bone loss include women who have lost their period or are post-menopausal. The good news is weight training can delay, or even reverse the occurrence of bone loss by placing load on the muscles which in turn pull on our bones and cause them to build back stronger.
Reduced Risk of Injury
Every house needs a solid foundation, so the walls don’t fall down. Strength training provides that same stability for your body, taking pressure off the joints and maintaining alignment which can reduce the risk of pain or injury in areas such as your lower back or knees. Training the muscles in a functional way under load (i.e. weight training) makes everyday movement easier, protects us from injury and ensures we bounce back quickly if we hurt ourselves accidentally or unexpectedly.
Maintaining an evenly balanced and well-proportioned frame can be achieved through specific strength exercises and ratios to hold the body nicely in an upright position both statically and dynamically. A good posture is not only crucial for avoiding injury, but also looks good and can inherently increase confidence.
Improved Mental Health
The chemicals in the brain that are released during a strength training workout have the ability to ease your mind of anxiety, stress and depression. Strength training can also have a positive effect on your mental health by increasing self-confidence and self-esteem in relation to body image. Lifting weights is empowering and gives you inner, as well as outer strength.
Strength training not only allows you to delay the gradual loss of muscle mass that occurs over the age of 35 (called Sarcopenia), but also helps in keeping you medically healthy. Your heart, lungs, blood pressure, blood sugar levels and immune system are all positively affected by weight training because of the chemical chain of reactions that occur post-training.
As you can see, strength training for women is incredibly important. It will not only give you an aesthetically pleasing physique, but also a range of physical and mental health benefits. If you are new to strength training or are just getting back into it after some time off (e.g. pregnancy), it is recommended you consult with your Physio to ensure you are using safe lifting techniques and the correct loading. Now, it’s time to get fit and strong!
Kayla Lee Physio
Kayla is a qualified Physiotherapist with a background in Exercise and Sport Science from the University of Sydney. She specialises in rehabilitation and strength training for Women. Kayla uses a combination of manual therapy techniques and exercise rehabilitation to treat her clients. She also has experience with dry needling, clinical pilates and sports Physiotherapy. Follow her @kaylaleephysio or check out her website at www.kaylaleephysio.com (please hyperlink both of these)
Andrew Ilieff is a physiotherapy based in Double Bay, Sydney. Andrew has successfully treated musculoskeletal problems on the basis of a thorough assessment and diagnosis coupled with evidence-based rehabilitation programs tailored to the needs and goals of each individual. To book a consultation, click the link below.