Did you know that you can benefit from lifting weights just twice a week? Strength training improves the lives of women in SO many ways and you don’t need to lift like Arnold either. Though if you can, more power to you, lady! I’m just saying a little can go a long way.
Don’t believe me?
Add moderate- to high-intensity muscle-strengthening activity (such as resistance or weights) on at least 2 days per week. – American Heart Association
Twice a week! I tend to love an every other day lifting schedule. Right now I’m actually working through this workout hybrid and it’s lifting 3 days/week and cardio/bodyweight exercises 3 days a week. If you’ve read any of my posts you might’ve read that I hate cardio so this is a challenge for me.
20 Ways Strength Training Improves the Lives of Women
I’m so excited to share the benefits of strength training for women with you! I hope you love lifting as much as I do and if you’re a new lifter or you’d like to start weight training, I hope this inspires you to start. I really think you’ll love it.
Strengthens bones to help prevent osteoporosis.
I had no idea resistance training strengthens muscles and bones. Muscle was obvious but I was pretty surprised to learn about the bone part. Since inactivity (lots of sitting during the day) can lead to osteoporosis as people get older, being active can help prevent it.
Osteoporosis is estimated to cause 1.5 million fractures annually in the United States in people aged 50 yr and older.
Aerobic exercise helps too but studies have shown that strength training may help even more. Strength training increases bone density which makes them stronger and less susceptible to injury.
When you’re working out it makes you feel good about yourself. And it should! Each time you lift a heavier weight, beat a personal best or get a few more reps in, you know you’re making progress and that’s something to get excited about.
I know working out (lifting weights, specifically) has helped me learn to love my body. I still have issues with it sometimes but guess what? I know I can do something about it so that’s what I try to do. My attitude towards my body is a million percent better now than it was when I was 15.
Makes you proud of what your body can do.
Lifitng weights has made me appreciate what my body can do. When I first started I was definitely stronger than I thought! I thought barbells were for pros or bodybuilders but nope, I started on one!
I started with a 35# barbell and we now have 2 – 45# dumbbells. But I did start with the 35# bar all by itself — no plates added — to learn proper form. Using a barbell is very different (and so much more fun I think!) than using dumbbells but I appreciate dumbbells too of course.
I’m not saying you should start with a barbell but I think you might be stronger than you think. Always be sure to check with a doctor for the go-ahead if necessary.
Promotes good mental health.
This is my favorite part about lifting — aside from being able to sculpt my body. I’m not saying one workout will make the clouds part in your brain but it definitely can help. It helps the more you do it and the more consistent you are, the better — at least in my experience.
I do not love working out. I don’t do it all the time. But what does motivate me most of the time is knowing how much it helps me stay a little more sane. Not completely sane cuz that’ll never happen, ha.
Reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and other chronic illnesses.
Studies have shown that strength training does help to prevent type 2 diabetes and heart disease. How?
… evidence shows that it (strength training) also reduces BMI, which improves how the body uses insulin. A bigger muscle also means that glucose can get around the body better. – TIME
You set a great example for your family/friends.
When your body begins to physically change, people will notice! They’ll ask what you’re doing and they’ll ask how you’re doing it. You never know who’ll you’ll inspire to start lifting.
Increase lean body mass.
Aerobic activity will reduce body fat but strength training will build lean body mass.
Reduce body fat.
When you increase lean body mass in your body, it will help you burn more calories and reduce body fat! You probably know that the more muscle you have the more calories your body will burn when it’s resting. That means if you lift weights regularly you’ll burn more calories when you’re sleeping than if you didn’t workout at all.
A lot of people think you need to do cardio (or aerobic) exercise to reduce body fat, and you can at the right intensity and longevity, but I prefer lifting because unlike with running, your body will keep burning more calories for you even when you’re not actively lifting. Your muscles work for you and that is the power of strength training.
When you first start lifting I would not pay attention to the scale to track weight loss or you’ll probably just end up losing your mind. Muscle is sexier and takes up less space than fat does. So if you had a pound of each, the muscle would be sleeker and smaller and take up less room in your body. See? Perks all around.
Improved body image.
It’s normal to not like something physical about yourself. Remember Clueless in the ’90s and all the nose jobs? They walked around proudly with those nose casts! Or when breast implants became super popular? I’m not talking about those kinds of things.
When I was a teenager I definitely experienced body dysmorphic disorder. I had no idea what it was until I was talking with my therapist about it. I hated every inch of my body and always thought about how it was flawed because I had been raped. I really effing hate that word. Lifting has made me feel so much better about my body. I never ever ever used to wear shorts and now I do all the time (when it’s not 50 below).
…people who have body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) think about their real or perceived flaws for hours each day. – ADAA
About 1 in 50 people experience BDD and it typically begins around the ages of 12 to 13 with males having a slightly higher prevalence of BDD at 2.5% vs. 2.2% for females. – ADAA
Burn more calories.
I know I’ve talked about this previously but burning more calories can definitely improve life! That’s what we want, right?
Eat more food.
While burning more calories is great, did you know that you can get away with eating a little more when you lift? You need extra calories to build lean muscle. It’s always important to eat *mostly* healthy but this is also one of my favorite things about lifting because I heart food a lot.
It’s funny how stress on your body can reduce stress overall. And by stressing your body I just mean by adding resistance to your workouts — it’s a good stress as long as you’re careful.
Shapes and sculpts your body.
Resistance training is the only way to shape and sculpt your body. Cardio exercise can burn fat and calories and help you lose weight but it doesn’t create shape like muscle will. You can definitely tell when your muscles are getting stronger and more defined and it’s a serious motivator.
Reduce the risk of injury.
Athletes train for better performance but that’s not all. They also train to reduce the risk of injury. If your body is strong and used to moving, you’re less likely to hurt yourself. Remember the bit about osteoporosis?
Here are some super helpful tips by heart.org about ways to prevent injury and how to treat injuries if they do happen.
Alleviate low back pain.
Lifting weights can help you have less to no lower back pain — depending on the reasoning for your pain. Obviously if you have a back injury I don’t mean you should start lifting to make the pain go away.
Strengthening your core and your legs via some kind of resistance training helps put less pressure on your lower back. I was surprised to learn that the lower back is part of your core. I always thought just my abs were my core, not so!
Good for your heart.
I think we all know physical activity is great for the heart so I’ll just leave it at that. :)
Improves your quality of sleep.
I think any extra movement you can fit in the day will help you sleep and I’ve found that the more intense my workouts are the better I usually sleep. Lifting definitely promotes great sleep. High-intensity interval training helps me sleep great too.
Helps fight depression and anxiety.
Lifting doesn’t cure mental illness but it sure does help in the fight. I don’t know if it’s the endorphins, the strength gains, the results I see or a mix of all three, but it definitely helps with depression.
I’ve noticed that while I’m working out I generally have pretty positive thoughts and I feel good about what I’m doing. This feeling lasts even after my workout is over because I’m proud of myself for getting it done. I’ve never felt worse or more upset after a workout; always the opposite.
Less weight gain.
Weight gain is the result of consuming more calories than you burn. Building lean muscle helps your body burn more calories even when you’re not working out and this can help keep weight gain at bay — even as we get older.
I think it was Chalene Johnson who said something like, “Just because you get older doesn’t mean you need to get bigger.” That’s not a direct quote but it was something like that. It really resonated with me because it’s so true.
You can lift heavy things.
Dog food, bird seed, 5 bags of groceries? You got this. As you get stronger, lifting or carrying heavy things around becomes easier and you’re less likely to strain your back…and more likely to show off. Hee hee.
How much physical activity or strength training do I need to do?
I know what you might be thinking… you’re probably wondering how much physical activity is required to actually improve your life and your health? The answer is probably less time than you think. 150 minutes per week.
Here is what the American Heart Association recommends:
The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of physical activity per week and suggests to do strength training exercises at least two days per week. Easy peasy.
You don’t need to go crazy and lift 7 days a week and run every day of your life. Any kind of added resistance is all you need whether it’s resistance bands, bodyweight exercises, dumbbells, barbells, kettlebell, etc.
I hope by now you can see just how much strength training can improve the lives of women. It. will. change. your. life. It’s not just for the men, it’s for everyone!