Many women miss out on the benefits of strength training out of fear of developing bulging muscles. This is a misconception. According to the Women’s Heart Foundation, high levels of estrogen make it very difficult for women to become overly muscular. When women lift weights, the changes to their muscles are generally related to tone, strength, and endurance rather than size. The resulting look is firm, feminine toning, not bulky masculine muscles.
Lie with your back on a bench, glutes squeezed and feet flat on the floor. Hold medium-weight dumbbells directly over your shoulders. Squeeze your shoulder blades. Keeping your left arm straight, lower the right dumbbell to your chest; pause when it’s an inch from your chest then drive it back up. Repeat on the other side. Alternate reps on both sides until time is up. Do 3 sets.
Strength training is a good idea for everybody. For the best results, try intermixing the strength training exercises with bodyweight exercises, and do them three times a week at most. More isn’t necessarily better when it comes to strength training – in fact, too much training can damage your strengthening process. If you also want to improve your cardiovascular health or lose weight, consider adding cardiovascular exercise, such as walking or running, which helps you burn fat.
Start in pushup position with your feet wide, and each hand gripping a light-weight dumbbell. Your hands should be directly beneath your shoulders. Keeping your core and glutes tight, lift the right dumbbell off the ground and toward your right ribcage, driving your right elbow up high. Squeeze for a moment, then lower it back to the start. Repeat with the left arm. On all reps, focus on doing everything possible to keep your hips and core square to the ground. They will shift a little bit (that’s OK!), but fight for good form. Alternate reps until time’s up. Do 3 sets.
There’s nothing that says you have to pick one type of resistance training and stick with it. Versatility is the name of the game here, so you can rotate between ALL styles if you like – I personally do. It just depends on where I am, what’s handy, and what I’m working on. No matter which form of Resistance Training you choose, you’re going to love what what it does for you!
Builds bone density: Unexpected falls put countless older people in the hospital every year. An 8-year-old puts a cast on his arm and gets back to playing in 8 weeks. An 80-year-old isn’t quite so fortunate. The ramifications of broken bones can be devastating. Strength training can help. One study in New Zealand on women 80 years of age and older showed a 40 percent reduction in falls with simple strength and balance training.
Second, women may recover from training a bit faster than men (one, two, three). When I’ve mentioned this in the past, the counterargument I typically hear is that women don’t create as much force, so of course their muscles won’t sustain as much damage, and will therefore recover faster. However, that doesn’t make much sense when you think about it. For starters, I’m not aware of any evidence showing that people who are stronger or more muscular at baseline experience more muscle damage, more soreness, or larger/longer performance decrements than people who are weaker or less muscular, all else being equal. More importantly, what each of your muscle fibers “feel” is the tension on that specific fiber; the contractile force of the entire muscle shouldn’t matter, as long as each fiber is being recruited to a similar degree and experiencing a similar amount of tension. I think the more likely explanation is that estrogen may exert a protective effect on muscle, limiting damage and potentially accelerating repair.
When you strength train, your muscles are broken down, and then rebuilt over the next 24-48 hours. While your body is rebuilding those muscles, it’s recruiting more calories and energy to make the process happen (generally referred to as the ‘afterburn’ effect). What this means is that your metabolism operates at a faster level even while you’re sitting on the couch after a workout.