Why Do Women Need Weight Training?

By CEO Robert Forster, PT

Many women miss out on the incredible benefits that strength training has to offer because of myths and misconceptions regarding this component of fitness. If one of your health goals is weight management, strength training may be the key that unlocks your potential for the strong, healthy body you dream of.

While you can burn calories during both aerobic exercise and strength training, the biggest impact on weight loss or weight maintenance is a revved up metabolism so you are burning more calories all day. Strength training increases the amount of lean muscle mass on your body, and lean muscle mass requires more calories both during exercise and throughout the rest of your day. Muscle also requires energy in the form of calories to maintain itself–unlike fat which requires almost no calories to exist.

Lean muscle mass cannot be maintained or increased with aerobic training alone. Without strength training, an adult will lose approximately 1% of their muscle mass per year after the age of 30. The bottom line with muscles is “Use them or lose them.” Increase muscle mass and you’ll burn more calories naturally, 24 hours a day. This will help you lose fat and achieve your desired weight.

Strength training will also bring additional benefits, including increased bone density. Just like muscle mass, we all lose bone density as we age with peak density typically at age 25. With osteoporosis a serious health threat to women (1 in 4 women will suffer an osteoporotic bone fracture later in life) it makes sense to help prevent it by making your bones as strong and healthy as possible while you are young. So, it’s never too early or too late to start. Weight workouts improve the strength of bones by increasing muscular forces transmitted to the bones when muscles contract. Again, not only does the work on the gym stress bones and make them thirsty to drink in more calcium but the increased muscle strength works to stimulate bone density with every movement during your day.

Predisposition to osteoporosis is common in petite woman, smokers, drinkers, those with early or surgical menopause and for women with a family history of this condition. Strength training when done properly also helps maintain joint health by stimulating the cartilage to stay strong and by improving joint alignment and posture. For injured joints, stronger muscles are the great equalizer that allows the joint to work better and avoid further damage to joint surfaces and the surrounding ligament and tendon structures.

Myths and Misconceptions
Various myths and misconceptions about the effects of strength training on women are
primarily responsible for the lack of participation among women in the weight room. Unfortunately, despite the successes of female participation in strength training, many of
these myths continue to prevail today:

“Lifting Weights Will Make Me Look Bulky”
Body Building involves specific training techniques to increase size. Phase IV strength training methods will result in three times the strength gain vs size increase because it’s not bodybuilding (unless you want to get bigger in specific areas)! Therefore, significant increase in female muscle size is not an issue if you train right. Due to genetics and individual differences, some women will increase muscle mass more than others, but nowhere near the size increases observed in men.

“My Goal is To Burn Fat, Not Get Stronger, So I Should Run, Not Lift Weight?”
While strength training in itself burns far fewer calories during the continuous exercise, studies show that the increased presence of muscle in the body enhances metabolic function throughout the day. During rest, your metabolism continues to work at a higher pace; the more muscle one has, the more calories your body will burn while resting. Therefore, adding strength training to your cardiovascular (metabolic) routine exponentially increases your ability to burn unwanted fat even when you are sleeping.

“Older Women Should Not Participate in Strength Training Exercises”
Older women must participate in activities designed to specifically strengthen all the large muscle groups to maintain maximum health and lifestyle performance. Health benefits received from this type of exercise are numerous: stronger bones and healthier joints, better balance and improved risk of falls, sustained independence later in life and decreased risk of insulin resistance and Diabetes.

Effects of Strength Training
Properly performed, strength training can provide significant functional benefits and improvement in overall health and well-being including increased bone, muscle, tendon and ligament strength, improved joint function, and reduced potential for injury. In addition, the increased presence of muscle tissue improves overall metabolic function, especially when at rest. This means that by increasing your lean body mass, through strength training, you can burn fat exponentially better than with aerobic exercise alone.

One indirect advantage for all women is the growing ease in which everyday activities can be performed. Some women simply avoid activities that involve carrying heavy objects and walking up stairs. Disengaging these activities, however, means inactive muscles become weaker and weaker, causing a further decline in functional fitness through atrophy. Strength training can effectively break this cycle. When women say they cannot do as much as they could in their youth, it’s not necessarily because of age; rather, it’s a function of doing fewer activities to stimulate muscles.

10 Reasons Why Strength Training is Beneficial to Women
1. Increases Metabolism to assist weight management and Reduce or limit the loss of lean muscle mass as you get older.
2. Helps improve body composition, i.e. more muscle and less fat at the same bodyweight.
3. Improved function and ease of movement with increased strength exercise, work and daily activities becomes much easier.
4. Increased bone density prevents the onset of osteoporosis.
5. It helps improve circulation, coordination, balance, as well as bone and ligament strength.
6. Improved overall mental and physical health.
7. A stronger body is less likely to suffer from injury.
8. Helps develop a balanced, well-proportioned physique.
9. Improved self-esteem and a sense of personal empowerment.
10. Fun! Improved conditioning will help you gain more enjoyment from your favorite sport(s).

Characteristics of a Scientifically Designed Strength Training Program for Women
1. The program is personalized to your particular needs
2. Every workout is preceded and followed by a safe and effective stretching routine. Simply starting slow is not an adequate substitution for stretching
3. A 6-8 week joint preparation and injury prevention Phase is employed to stabilize the joints of the body before they are subject to heavier weight loads.
4. The program progresses through Scientifically Rational phases designed to train all the critical aspects of fitness.
5. After adaptation is achieved to create the desired result the program is altered significantly to further stress the body and create new fitness growth
6. All exercises are done in joint protected positions with low risk for injury, we take no chances with your health!

Phase IV Women’s Strength Training Programs
Phase IV Strength Training programs always begin with a head to toe, total body “Structural Exam” performed by a Physical Therapist. Based on the findings of that exam we will teach you how to train to address your personal needs. You can train at your gym, or at PHASE IV with a Physical Therapist or an Exercise Physiologist. We will even teach you how to train in your own home. Additionally, you can train with like minded women in our “Woman’s Weight Class” every Tuesday and Thursday night at PHASE IV.

Either way the time to invest in your future is now! Call today to book a free consultation and learn more about Phase IV Weight Training and Nutritional Programs! 310-582-8212

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