When you visit the average gym you’ll probably notice a clear split. The weight and resistance training section is populated by men whilst you’ll only find the women in the cardio area. This is something that needs to change. Women need weight training for an all-round workout.
In 2011 the American College of Sports Medicine published guidelines that prescribed exercise regimes for both men and women which includes muscle-strengthening exercises on a minimum of two days a week. The NHS too recommend bodyweight and resistance training exercises to help build muscle, reduce the risk of osteoporosis and type-2 diabetes.
Muscle plays a key role in the ageing process and to increase muscle we need to train with weights. In 1991 a study at Tufts University in American established that the more muscle a person has and the more strength in their muscles, the longer their life expectancy. With all the data stacking up, why do women have an issue with weight training?
It seems to be anomaly as women are no longer underrepresented in other activities. Running is popular with women, swimming, cycling and many other previously male dominated sports but not weight lifting and training. Experts think it may be down the industry as statistics from surveys collected in gyms across the country found that only 3% o 8,000 women named the dumbbells as one of their three favourite pieces of kit. The old stereotype of the pumped up guy lifting double his bodyweight needs to be banished to more women start honing their muscles with care.
Gyms and fitness centres across the country have tried to make steps towards making their weight training more female-friendly. They have tried to set it up in a more open plan way with a huge variety of kit to choose from laid out in a way that’s less intimidating than traditional weights areas. Other gyms have opted for specialised women-only sessions rather than laying out their equipment differently and this gives female gym fans to the chance to enjoy all the equipment in comfort.
Despite regular weight training in gyms not being the most popular with women, the bodybuilding industry for women is growing. Female entrants to bodybuilding competitions and regular events have in fact doubled according to one of the UK’s largest health and fitness exhibition companies. This shows that women are interested in weight lifting and training but there is still suspicion around training in regular gyms and the worry of getting unsightly muscles from overtraining – this couldn’t be further from the truth of what happens.
Key Benefits of Weight Training for Women
Below are what we see as the top five benefits of weight training for women and why you should incorporate come weights into your regular routine.
Lose Fat, Gain Muscle
The big fear about weight training for women is that their bodies will turn to muscle and become bulked. In the many studies carried out on weight training there are no records of this regularly occurring. An American study shows that if a woman weight trains two to three times per week for eight weeks in a row will gain 1.75lbs of lean muscle and lose 3.5lbs of fat. Women’s bodies don’t have the same levels of hormones which result in the bulked-up look than men.
New Muscle Gain will fight Obesity
As you add muscle through weight training your resting metabolism will steadily increase and you’ll naturally begin to burn more calories. For each pound of muscle you gain throughout training you’ll burn an extra 35-50 calories a day.
The same American study mentioned earlier showed that women who carried out regular moderate weight training increased their strength by 30 to 50%. Extra strength may not sound like much but it’s something you’ll appreciate every day and tasks which may before have been a bit of a struggle such as lifting children and carrying groceries.
Protect your Bones
By the time you reach 16 your bone mineral density is pretty much established unless you carry out strength training work outs regularly. Strength training can steel your body against osteoporosis and give your bones the best chance for the long term.
Train your Brain
A study carried out by Harvard found that 10 weeks of regular strength training actually reduced clinical depressing symptoms and the effect was more successful than standard counselling. Women who strength train also regularly state that they feel more confident in themselves and capable thanks to their training.
The first time you weight train it might be a little hard to get used to. Once you get into however you won’t be disappointed by the results and you’ll soon feel the benefit. Within a few weeks of training your body will feel better and you’ll have a confidence boost like you can’t believe.
by Kath Webb
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by Kath Webb
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