Why Women Need a Good Strength Training Program
For many years, strength training was something that most women felt was something that only men needed to do. Some women today tend to worry about “bulking up” or looking too muscular or not losing weight they may be struggling to lose by taking on too much weight, or strength training and not getting in as much cardio as they feel they should be doing.
Did you know that incorporating a regular strength training program into your fitness schedule will help you lower your body fat, build muscle and burn more calories which will, in the long run, help more with weight loss than only having a cardio program?
Top Benefits of Strength Training
Before you turn your nose up at strength training and give in to the fears of looking “hulkish,” you may want to know a few of the main advantages a good strength training program can offer you as a woman.
Lowers Risk of Injury
Strength training helps keep your joints from being injured in your daily activities. It also supports coordination which can help prevent falls and other accidents from happening. Strength training also lowers the risk of osteoporosis which is caused by losing bone density. When you train, not only will your muscles gain strength, but so will your bones.
Prevents the Loss of Muscle Mass
As we age, muscle mass starts to slowly decline as body fat rises and people stop doing things that can build strength. This can be combatted, however, with the incorporation of a strength training program.
Here is something worth considering, as we age, lean muscle begins to depreciate and the amount of body fat increases. This is due to many things including inactive lifestyles, poor diet or, most importantly, lack of physical exercise including strength training. When you incorporate a good strength training program into your fitness, you can help increase muscle mass and prevent fat gain.
Here is where quite a few people, especially women, begin to worry about strength training. Some people are worried about weight gain because they will be adding more muscle mass to their bodies through using of weights. In all actuality, weight training, or strength training, will add or tone muscle definition, but it is one of the best tools for overall weight loss.
When you use a regular strength training program, it will help you burn calories longer than with just cardio alone. For instance, with strength training, the calorie burn you have after a workout has the potential to last hours longer than it would if you were only doing aerobics or other cardio exercise.
Whether you are a teen, young adult or even well beyond middle aged, strength training will help prevent muscle loss and fat gain and can help to build up muscle mass as well as bone mass. So many women worry that starting a strength training program will cause them to look “too muscular” or bulky when they start building muscle.
This is, quite actually, not something that you need to worry about at all unless you are focused solely on bulking up and want to do so. As a matter of fact, since women have a much higher level of estrogen than men, it is not easy for them to become bulky from muscle at all.
Most often, strength training in women will help them tone up while building up endurance for their workout routine and gaining strength. When women include both cardio and strength training as part of their regular workout routine, it helps to tone muscles, firm the body and look fit rather than big and muscular like men who bulk up to look.
Starting a New Strength Training Program
Before beginning any new training program, be sure to speak to your healthcare provider to make sure your body is ready for the work involved. Many health insurance policies cover gym memberships, especially for seniors, and this may be a great time also to speak to your insurance provider to see if they cover weight loss or other gym incentives.
This is especially true for those that may have led somewhat inactive lifestyles in recent months and want to get started back on a routine, or those who have had a sedentary life for six months or longer or have health problems.
Once your provider has cleared you for a training schedule, or you have determined that beginning a new strength training program is what you need, you can use the following guidelines to help get you started on your way to burning fat, toning your muscles and building strength and feeling better than you may have ever felt before.
Free weights are common to see in the gym, whether you have a small home gym or you pay a membership to use a large public or private gym. Most likely, you have seen some of the following free weights:
- Medicine Balls
These are all standard for strength training, but it is crucial that you know how to lift correctly and how to use each free weight the right way to avoid injury. Weight lifting, for women, is a crucial part of any weight loss or muscle building program. Most gyms have someone on board, including personal trainers, who can walk you through each piece to show you the proper way to lift or use them.
Rather than use free weights, many women prefer to use the weight machines in the gym. Each machine targets a different area of the body, and they are ideal for building strength, endurance and getting toned up. As with the free weights, each machine needs to be used the proper way for best results and to reduce the risk of injury during a workout. Start out with lower weights and add a few pounds to the weight each week.
Your Own Body
Whether you are jogging or even taking part in a fast paced a Zumba dance workout, you generally use nothing more than your own body. With body weight training as part of your strength training program, you will use your own body to build up resistance to build strength.
Body weight includes exercises such as pull-ups, crunches, squats, and push-ups. Take it slow when starting out and gradually build up to more and more. Using body weight can have great results for women, and it is one of the easiest types of strength training you can do for overall fitness success.
Be sure to start slowly when you begin your strength training program and do not over exert yourself. Trying to lift too heavy weights or doing too many repetitions may make you feel good when you can show off if front of someone, but doing too much too soon can be dangerous for your muscles and can cause muscle and joint injuries.
Remember, if possible, get a little advice or hire a personal trainer to get you started, so you know what to do and how to do it the right way. Start slow and build up slowly and over time, you are going to begin seeing the body you always knew you could have.
If you still find it's hard to get started, take a look at this guide 8-Week Daily Exercise Plan to Tone Your Body from The-Wardrobe-Stylist.com
Jason is a Canadian expat living in Costa Rica that loves to travel. He is a writer currently working with www.taylorbenefitsinsurance.com