Let’s talk about it – many women fear strength training/resistance training/weight-lifting and the like. Why is that? The common retort is – ‘I don’t want to get bulky!’ or ‘I don’t want to look like a man!’. This misinformation has persisted for decades and will continue if we do not become more informed about the benefits of strength training and why women especially, should embrace rather than run from it.

First, women will NOT get bulky nor look like a man once they start performing some type of resistance training (lifting dumbbells, a barbell, resistance bands, bodyweight exercises). It is really important that we grasp the science behind this. In order to build muscle and bulk up, the human body relies on the hormone testosterone. Women have one-seventh of the testosterone that men have which makes it actually difficult for us to build muscle, let alone become bulky. When someone mentions strength training and you visualize yourself with Arnold Schwarzennegger’s body (but your face), it’s only your mind responding to the biased information it's been fed by less than credible sources or our own ignorance at play. What if instead you replaced that image with one of you in a much leaner and stronger body, with better posture, increased strength and better health – because that is what strength training will do for you. Let’s break it down…

Why lift weights, you might ask, or do squats, lunges, push-ups? There’s a term called functional fitness and essentially when you strength train by doing these types of moves, you are building functional strength and power that will allow you to, yes, FUNCTION better with everyday activities that you must do – lifting groceries or the kids, bending and picking up toys, lifting boxes etc. The strength that you build in the gym or in home workouts translate to your everyday lives. That’s definitely a plus in my book!

 Let’s go a bit deeper – did you know that strength training is the only way (outside of taking steroids) that you can build your metabolism? Because when you build muscle (which is active tissue), it burns calories around the clock – even when you are sleeping. As a result, you will find yourself seeing physical changes in a shorter period of time than with only cardio workouts. This means that if you spent 30-40 mins performing resistance/strength work 3-5times per week, you would be faster on your way to leaner and more sculpted physique than with the equivalent solely done with cardio. This is because EPOC or Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption is higher after a strength training session. Your body has to work harder to recover and cool down which results in more calorie burn.

 On the health side of the equation, research has shown that women who participate in regular strength training have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease as well as Type 2 diabetes as they become more sensitive to insulin. Who knew? Additionally, we know that with more of these types of exercises, we are building our bone density which will make us less liable to age-related problems such as osteoporosis, with time. Another less spoken about benefit of weight training is the increase in self-confidence that comes along with increased strength. Women talk about feeling more empowered, independent and a can-do spirit is reborn. Engaging regularly in some form of strength training encompasses the mental, physical and improves our health. It is perhaps one of the most overlooked and disregarded forms of exercise by women but one that we hope will continue to gain traction as the success stories are heard the world over. I’d say, it’s an excellent form of self-care. Don’t you agree?

Image Credit: https://www.healthline.com/health/upper-body-workout-for-women

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