Strength training is a vital part of the exercise program for all individuals but in particular for women, however, it is also often the most feared and least understood. Women fear that lifting weights will cause them to ‘bulk up’ and look like Arnold Schwarzenegger. The truth is that strength training helps to improve the health and posture of your body while reducing your risk of injury and osteoporosis.
Increased bone density
Bone density can only be naturally improved with strength training. Movement is made possible by the muscles in your body contracting and pull against the bones causing stress to the bones. The body responds to this stress by strengthening and hardening the bone. The result is increased bone density, which means a lower risk of fractures and breaks. This is particularly important for post menopausal women because their change in oestrogen levels makes their bones increasingly vulnerable and weak. Strength training not only helps to prevent osteoporosis but can actually reverse the symptoms if strength training is taken up post menopause. That's right, strength training will improve bone health and help age-proof your body!
As we age, our metabolisms begin to slow down. This is caused by a number of factors – less movement, changing hormone levels, but mainly a decrease in muscle mass. After 30, your body starts to lose muscle mass. This is mainly due to changing hormone levels and as muscle requires a lot of energy from your body, your body would rather lower it's energy demands and carry less of it. This means that it becomes easier to put on weight as you age. Unless you are regularly strength training to rebuild your muscles. Remember, the more muscle you have, the higher a demand is placed on your body and the more food it requires (so you will be able to eat more!).
Proper strength training should be a full body approach working to improve muscular strength which will, in turn, help you carry yourself better. The stronger you are, the easier it is to lift your feet off the ground and the less likely you are to trip. If you do trip, your body is strong enough to keep everything in place and there is a reduced risk of dislocation and muscle tears.
Improved range of movement and flexibility
Regular strength training puts the muscles and joints through their full range of movement. This stimulates blood and lymphatic flow and helps to improve flexibility and mobility. Being inactive causes our muscles to retain the position they are held in most regularly. This causes tight muscles commonly in our hip flexors (front of our hips) from sitting, and pectorals (chest) from slouching forward with rolled shoulders. The change in posture affects blood and lymphatic flow and also the ability of the body to move through its full range of movement. This reduces flexibility and makes it more difficult to do daily tasks.
The bulk up hormone - Testosterone
As women, we produce only low levels of the hormone testosterone. This is the hormone responsible for men “bulking” up as a result of strength training. It is important for women to remember that the food they eat will affect their body composition (the fat and lean muscle make up) and not be concerned that the strength training will be the cause of them gaining size.
Ultimately, you should be strength training because it’s great for your health, will improve your mobility, reduce your risk of injury and help you to burn body fat. If you are concerned with where you should start for your body and personal history, find a professional in your local area or an experienced trainer who can help you online and take their advice. Strength training requires practice, patience, and effort but has fantastic benefits, most importantly for women in their post menopausal lives.
What do you enjoy about strength training? Do you have any questions or concerns? Please give us a shout and share via our social media below!