This article was originally taken from the Gosling Sports Park website.
Francesa Xuereb has been working as part of the APA Team since the summer and has written an excellent article on Strength training for women.
Over the past few years, women have been moving away from the cardio part of the gym and taking a step towards resistance training. Yet, a social stigma still exists that prevents women to actively strength train. Women worry that they will get massive legs, huge shoulders or super defined biceps. Well I have new for you: that will not happen unless you train, eat and supplement like a body builder and have a genetic predisposition to it! Women lack physiological adaptations that will enable this as well as the correct amount of hormones (mainly testosterone) to support this.
In this review we will go through some myths surrounding strength training, benefits of strength training and recommendations for women who strength train.
6 Myths of Strength Training for Women
1) Lifting heavy will make you bulky: Lifting heavy will make you stronger, will burn fat and increase lean muscle mass – hence definition. Women do not have enough naturally occurring testosterone to gain size.
Solution: Lift heavy to get stronger, try to up the weight you are lifting as often as you can in order to keep getting stronger and promote progression.
2) Exercise the muscle group you want to lose fat in: We are all predisposed to store fat in certain areas. You need to train your whole body and take care of your diet in order to lose weight.
Solution: Use compound full body movement and stay on top of your diet to promote fat loss.
3) I need to do cardio: Sweating does not mean you are losing weight. A concrete number of calories lost also does not mean that it is the most efficient way to lose weight.
Solution: Strength train as often as you can or do a combination of both cardio and strength; if you do enjoy your cardio there is no reason to stop it as long as you do it sensibly.
4) There exists 1 universal program: No one programme will work for everyone.
Solution: Try different training methods and keep track of your progress.
5) Women cannot train like men: Women can develop strength as much as men relative to their body weight. As such they can use the same training methods, exercise prescription, intensities and volume.
Solution: Try different strength training methods; you deserve to use the free weights section as much as the men do.
6) Older women should not strength train: post-menopausal women are more susceptible to osteoporosis and hence should work on increasing bone strength which will also reduce the risk of injury and fractures.
Solution: Strength training preserves bone density, improves muscle mass and strength and helps with balance.
Benefits of strength training in women
– Increase bone strength and reduce the risk of osteoporosis
– Stronger connective tissue to increase joint stability and reduce the risk of injury
– Increase functional strength, balance and coordination
– Increase lean body mass and reduce fat
– Increase metabolic rate due to increased amount of muscle and decreased amount of fat.
– Builds a stronger heart, reduces resting blood pressure and improves blood flow.
– Helps control medical conditions such as blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
Strength Training Recommendations
– Use free weight, dumbells and body weight resistance
– Train the whole body focusing of big muscle compound exercises which are muti-planar and multi-joint ex squats, lunges, bench press and lat pull down.
– Use high-intensity, high load training: this will enable bone, muscle, ligament and tendon adaptations.
– Aim to train 2-3 times a week using a variety of strength training methods.
Strength and Conditioning Coach