Having been a trainer for nearly 20 years and with around 90% of my client base being female in the 30 – 70 age range, I have heard a lot of misconceptions about opinions regarding weight training over the years.
Attitudes Toward Weight Training
Working out with weights should be an integral part of any exercise plan if your goal is to change your body shape, increase your muscle tone and improve your general fitness. In some cases, however, weights have a stigma attached to them which some people (ladies in particular) are a little concerned about.
Please bear in mind I am generalizing with the points I am going to focus on and fully accept these are not the views of all women everywhere. They are just some of the more common views of the ladies I have worked over the years with when discussing the benefits of lifting weights…
“Lifting weights will make me big and bulky”
“Men and Women should do different exercises”
“I want to burn fat, not build muscle”
“Older women shouldn’t lift weights”
“Weight training will hurt my bad back”
To help clear up some of these concerns, I shall address the points above and explain the benefits of exercising with weights and why women should be embracing the dumb bell rack rather than shying away from it.
1. Weight Training Is Better Than Cardio For Changing Your Body Shape
I cannot tell you how many times clients tell me they just want to do cardio because they want to tone up, not bulk up.
Weight training will not only strengthen, firm and tone your muscles, but it is also a great fat burner as well. I have never had a client tell me they desire a ‘marathon runner look’ but the same people look at an Olympic sprinter and are drawn to their toned, athletic physique. Guess which athlete is more likely to use weights as part of their workout.
How Weight Training can Change Your Body
I found a great example of how weights can change your body shape on the Muscle & Strength website. They highlight a series of success stories and one, in particular, which caught my eye was of a lady in her 30’s by the name of Deana Jones.
Deana was 128lbs and 37% body fat. She decided to hire a Trainer and start a new regime. Her Trainer put her on a four-day-a-week weight training schedule with only three 20 minute cardio sessions per week. This (combined with her new healthy eating plan) changed her body shape completely. Deana lost 28lbs and 23% body fat, dropping down to a very lean 14%. Now she competes in fitness competitions and looks amazing.
Deana’s training programme would be no different than what her Trainer would prescribe for a man with the same goals.
2. Weight Training Will Increase Your Metabolism Long Term
You complete your long run and you feel great for it, quite rightly so. Your metabolism is elevated, your energy is high and you feel great. The challenge, however, is as soon as the workout is over so are the benefits.
A weight training workout will spike your metabolism for a much longer period even after the workout has finished, potentially up to 24 hours after.
This metabolic spike means your body will be burning calories at an elevated rate even when you are not working out. It also means your energy will be higher, leaving you feeling better, more motivated and more likely to make more sensible food choices.
3. Weight Training Can Help Manage Your Injuries
As a qualified and practicing Sports Therapist, I can tell you this; Most soft tissue injuries occur when tight, weak muscles are either over exerted or over stretched. This means the more flexible and, more importantly, the stronger and more stable your soft tissues are, the less likely you will be of hurting yourself.
Weight training will not just build strength into your muscles, but also of your connective tissues as well, resulting in the joints benefiting hugely from the change in dynamic strength. Sore knees, bad backs, painful shoulders and tight muscles can all largely be positively effected by having a stronger, more flexible body.
4. Weight Training Helps Prevent Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis is a disease of the bones which causes them to become brittle and more likely to break. Women have a natural lower level of bone density than men, which makes them more likely to suffer from the disease. According to the International Osteoporosis Foundation, around 200 million people are affected by Osteoporosis worldwide and affected women aged between 20-30 yrs have a third of a loss of hip bone density compared to a quarter for men.
Osteoporosis Affects 68% of Women
According to the National Institute of Arthritis & Muscular Skeletal & Skin Diseases, at any one time, 44 million people are at risk of Osteoporosis and 68% of those people are female. 75% of all cases of Osteoporosis specifically in the hip affect women.
The load bearing effect on the joints weight training offers actually builds bone density, making not just your muscles stronger, but also your bones. This is a crucial fact for ladies approaching or over the age of 50 yrs. So much for weight training not being suitable for older ladies then!
The bottom line is weight training will strengthen and empower you, change your body shape and boost your energy. It’s time to embrace the weights room ladies!
What Myths Also Bother You?
Are there any other myths which you are concerned about? I would love to hear them. Leave your comments in the section below – Happy Lifting!