Tip - Why Women Need Strength Training
Again and again,
research has shown that women who maintain a regular, moderate strength
training program enjoy a long list of health advantages. Some women
still fear that weight training might bulk them up in unfeminine
ways; however, as women of all ages realize the benefits of resistance
training, negative attitudes about women in the weight room are
rapidly fading, according to renowned strength training researcher
William J. Kraemer, PhD, of Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana.
expert and researcher Wayne Westcott, PhD, from the South Shore
YMCA in Quincy, Massachusetts, gives 10 important reasons why women
need to take strength training seriously:
1. You'll Lose
More Fat Than You'll Gain in Muscle. Westcott and his colleagues
have done numerous weight training studies involving thousands of
women and have never had anyone complain about bulking up. In fact,
Westcott's research shows that the average woman who strength trains
two to three times a week for eight weeks gains 1.75 pounds of lean
weight or muscle and loses 3.5 pounds of fat. Unlike men, women
typically don't gain size from strength training, because compared
to men, women have 10 to 30 times less of the hormones that cause
bulking up, explains Kraemer.
2. Your New Muscle Will Help Fight Obesity. As you add muscle from
strength training, your resting metabolism will increase, so you'll
burn more calories all day long, notes Westcott. For each pound
of muscle you gain, you'll burn 35 to 50 more calories daily. So,
for example, if you gain three pounds of muscle and burn 40 extra
calories for each pound, you'll burn 120 more calories per day,
or approximately 3,600 more calories per month. That equates to
a loss of 10 to 12 pounds in one year!
3. You'll Be
a Stronger Woman. Westcott's studies indicate that moderate weight
training increases a woman's strength by 30 to 50 percent. Extra
strength will make it easier to accomplish some daily activities,
such as lifting children or groceries. Kraemer notes that most strength
differences between men and women can be explained by differences
in body size and fat mass; pound for pound, women can develop their
strength at the same rate as men.
4. Your Bones Will Benefit. By the time you leave high school, you
have established all the bone mineral density you'll ever have--unless
you strength train, says Westcott. Research has found that weight
training can increase spinal bone mineral density by 13 percent
in six months. So strength training is a powerful tool against osteoporosis.
5. You Will Reduce Your Risk of Diabetes. Adult-onset diabetes is
a growing problem for women and men. Research indicates that weight
training can increase glucose utilization in the body by 23 percent
in four months.
6. You Will
Fight Heart Disease. Strength training will improve your cholesterol
profile and blood pressure, according to recent research. Of course,
your exercise program should also include cardiovascular exercise
and flexibility training.
7. You Will
Be Able to Beat Back Pain and Fight Arthritis. A recent 12-year
study showed that strengthening the low-back muscles had an 80 percent
success rate in eliminating or alleviating low-back pain. Other
studies have indicated that weight training can ease arthritis pain
and strengthen joints.
8. You'll Be
a Better Athlete. Westcott has found that strength training improves
athletic ability. Golfers, for example, significantly increase their
driving power. Whatever your sport of choice, strength training
may not only improve your proficiency but also decrease your risk
9. It Will Work
No Matter How Old You Are. Westcott has successfully trained numerous
women in their 70s and 80s, and studies show that strength improvements
are possible at any age. Note, however, that a strength training
professional should always supervise older participants.
Strengthen Your Mental Health. A Harvard study found that 10 weeks
of strength training reduced clinical depression symptoms more successfully
than standard counseling did, Westcott says. Women who strength
train commonly report feeling more confident and capable as a result
of their program