The Benefits of Strength Training for Women
Updated: Jan 18, 2022
Doing tons of cardio and not seeing results?
You are not alone. Though cardio training is an integral part of overall fitness, cardio alone is not as effective as strength or resistance training in burning fat.
But I don't want to bulk up! What's a girl to do?
The good news is that women typically do not bulk up like a man. The simple reason for this is testosterone. That's right; women do not produce enough testosterone to get "beefy." And strength training is incredible for your health - and the older we get, the more essential it becomes.
Ladies! Strength training can help you look and feel your best. Here's why:
Muscles Burn Calories
Lean muscle burns calories throughout the day. That's why gaining skeletal muscle increases your metabolism. The more muscle, the more calories you burn without even trying.
Tone Your Body
Cardio is great for stamina, but strength and resistance training build muscles. Toned muscles improve your figure and make you look great! Often people say that muscle weighs more than fat. But if you think about it, that is not true. A pound weighs a pound. In other words, a pound of muscle weighs the same as a pound of fat. The difference is the muscle is firm, defined, and takes up less space.
Strengthen Bones with Strength Training
The Osteoporosis Foundation estimates that 8 million women have osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a lifestyle disease, but it often manifests in postmenopausal women. Approximately 1 in 2 women over 50 will break a bone due to osteoporosis. This is highly significant. As you strengthen your muscles, you increase bone strength as well. Studies show that resistance exercises, "either alone or in combination with other interventions, might be the most optimal strategy to improve the muscle and bone mass in postmenopausal women, middle-aged men, or even the older population." (1)
Exercises that build muscle make us stronger, reduce the risk of falls - which is a leading cause of broken bones, and fights sarcopenia (age-related muscle loss). Muscle strength declines by 15% during age 60 and 30% per decade after (2)
Keep Your Joints Healthy
Strong muscles protect joints and keep them healthy—women who strength train often reduce pain in joints and lower back.
Improve Your Mood
An analysis of 33 randomized trials revealed that "people with mild to moderate depression who performed resistance training two or more days a week saw "significant" reductions in their symptoms, compared with people who did not. The findings also suggested that resistance exercises may be even more beneficial for those with more severe depressive symptoms." (3)
Strength Training Strengthens Your Nervous System
As individuals age, the total number of motor neurons declines. This can make us less reactive on unstable surfaces. In addition, studies have found that resistance training improves neural signaling from the brain.
Boost Your Immune System
Research on mice shows that strength training also boosts our immune systems. Muscle helps keep the immune system from running out of steam when fighting chronic illnesses. (5) "More recent research shows that resistance training session transiently increases the number of circulating immune cells protecting the body against infection. These cells are part of the body's innate immune system and include certain types of white blood cells and natural killer cells" (6)
Improve Heart and Cardiovascular Health
Strength training creates lean muscles. Lean muscles give your heart more place to pump blood, reducing the pressure on your arterial walls, which lowers your risk of heart-related disease. Resistance training also improves circulation. A study in the journal Medicine and Science in Sport and Exercise showed that regular strength training might reduce the risk of heart attack or stroke by 40-70 percent - independent of how much aerobic exercise they performed. (7)
Strength training raises circulating endorphins, which translates into better mood and energy. (8)
Reduced Risk for Metabolic Syndrome and Diabetes
People who strength-train are less likely to have metabolic syndrome, a cluster of biochemical and physiological abnormalities associated with the development of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. Some studies show that higher levels of resistance exercise are tied to a lower risk of type 2 diabetes in men and women. (9)
Remember ladies! Strength training is not just for men.
We can gain all the benefits of strength training without bulking up. As a result, we will look and feel great, age gracefully, and improve our health.
From confidence, strong bones, and better health, strength training can help you look and feel great!
1. Effects of Resistance Exercise on Bone Health
2. Mazzeo, RS, Tanaka H. Exercise prescription for the elderly. Sports Med. 2001;31(11): 809-818.
3. Strengthen Your Mood with Weight Training
4. Lifting Weights Makes Your Nervous System Stronger Too
5. Can Weight Lifting Keep You From Getting Sick? Immunity Study Explains
6. How Does Weight Training Impact Your Immune System?
7. Associations of Resistance Exercise with Cardiovascular Disease Morbidity and Mortality
8. What are the Hidden Benefits of Strength Training
9. Sixteen weeks of resistance training can decrease the risk of metabolic syndrome in healthy postmenopausal women