5 Benefits of Lifting for Women

I’ve been training women since 2008. Each and every woman I’ve trained has gotten stronger in the process. Here are 5 ways in which this has made their lives better.

Improve lifelong skeletal health

Female vs male bone mineral density

Female vs male bone mineral density

Due to a combination of genetic factors (in particular hormonal differences) and lifestyle factors (men are more likely to consume more food and have more physically demanding jobs), men tend to have higher peak bone mineral density than women. Once women hit menopause, it gets worse.

One of the most reliable ways women can combat this is with whole-body strength training. Strength training places loads on the skeleton which stimulate osteoblast production. Osteoblasts are new bone cells, and by stimulating their development you can increase bone mineral density in the first half of your life and minimise the decline later in life. Consequently your day-to-day life will be easier and you will have a higher quality of life for longer.

Improve immediate health

If strength training is your ace in the hole for retirement, excellent. But what about right now? Well, here are some of the ways your health can be enhanced right now:

  • A balanced strength training program can help improve posture which will reduce headaches and back pain.
  • Strength training improves joint stability, further reducing various pains and preventing some injuries.
  • It’s also used to rehabilitate many injuries.
  • Some women report that strength training eases the severity of PMS (but your mileage may vary).
  • Have you ever heard of runner’s high? It’s caused by endorphins that get released after about an hour of cardio. Or you could just do one heavy* set of deadlifts to get the same endorphin boost!

*Heavy is a relative term. For training purposes, “heavy” is not about the total weight being moved, so 100kg is not always heavy and 1kf is not always light. Rather, what we refer to as “heavy” is anything in the upper range of what you can safely do. So sometimes 1kg will be heavy, and sometimes 100kg will be light. It all depends on the individual and the context.

Confidence

This one’s a little harder to guarantee. If only self-image were so simple!

Nonetheless, the average woman has a lot of latent strength and power that she is unaware of. Tapping into that physical power and exerting it is often scary at first, but then it becomes liberating. Few things boost a person’s confidence like discovering you have an ability you previously thought wasn’t there.

It’s Fun!

Again, less of a guarantee here. But when you take the confidence boost of learning that you are stronger than you thought possible, and combine it with the fast-acting endorphin boost that comes with heavy training, you have a recipe for a good time. Add to that some spirit (as is the case when working with a coach or a group of other lifters), and you might be surprised with how much you end up loving your time at the best bar in town.

This bar!

This bar!

It makes you look good

This is at the end of the list for a reason: to emphasise the point that while strength training really is great for transforming your body, there’s so much you can get out of it even if you don’t want to change your physique at all.

Ultimately, strength training – not cardio – is the type of training that has the most impact on your appearance. Your physique is determined by three main factors:

  • Bone structure
  • Body fat
  • Muscle mass

You can’t do much about bone structure without surgery, so we can’t train or diet our way to a new frame. Body fat is influenced by total activity and nutritional context. If you eat more than you need, you will increase fat everywhere. If you eat less than you need, you will lose fat everywhere. Cardio is great for burning energy, so it can contribute a lot to how much food is needed, but more cardio and less food both have the same approximate effect on how you look.

Strength training, however, allows you to have some control over your muscle mass. If you are at a healthy weight and have fairly low bodyfat, but you still don’t have the curves you want, you will have to make them out of muscle. If you see two girls standing next to each other, both the same height, size and build, but one is really toned and the other isn’t, the toned girl has more muscle mass.

Don’t believe me? Check out Staci from nerdfitness. She looks the same size in both of the pictures, but is clearly more toned on the right hand side. She’s also 5kg heavier on the right. This is what strength training can help you achieve.

So, if you’re a woman and you want to enjoy the process of progressively getting hotter, healthier and more confident, this might just be for you.

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