Despite weight training being a normal part of athletic training and with the rise of training programs such as Crossfit, after 13 years of teaching Pilates and strength training, we still find that a lot of women feel that weight training is just for men and that it will make them feel bulky and unfeminine.
Unless, you are specifically training for body building and using extremely heavy weights, this is very unlikely in a regular training program for most women. Weight training should be part of most women’s regular exercise program for these 3 main reasons;
- Weight training is needed for most things we want to be able to do.
The biggest factor that causes pain and injury with most women is that they are not strong enough for the tasks they ask their body to do in everyday life. Taking the kids out of the car, sitting at work, carrying groceries or just going for a regular walk requires strength and control of our major postural muscles such as our core stabilisers, our gluteal muscles (our butts) and our upper body stabilisers (shoulder blade muscles).
If these muscles are not strong, it puts excess load and strain on our joints and ligaments, causing pain and potential injury. It also means that you just can’t do the things you would like to able to do without effort. Strength training helps to improve your postural muscle strength and ability to do all these tasks
- Strength training is important for bone density.
Our bones need load to maintain their normal structure and remain healthy. Strength training helps maintain normal loads on the bones, to allow them to continue to move smoothly and maintain healthy and strong structure.
- Strength training is a key to exercise.
This is important for 2 reasons. First, to do good quality cardio exercise, you first need good muscle strength.
This means that you can perform cardio exercise for longer and with better quality, such as running or bike riding, instead of being limited by lack of muscle strength.
Second, better muscle mass helps improve glucose regulation, improves your muscle metabolism, meaning you generally begin to burn more fat doing the same activities you did before, making it easier in those short and long term to maintain or lose fat and build muscle.
A weight program should not be complicated, but involve 5-6 key exercises, 2-3 times a week, ideally guided by a qualified professional, such as an exercise physiologist, physiotherapist or good personal trainer. If you’re not in a position to work with any of these professionals, consider taking classes at the gym or joining a dance or gymnastics class. Some styles of dance, specifically pole classes, are heavily geared towards building muscle – mostly because you have to climb a pole using only your thighs occasionally.
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