You Don’t have to ‘Baulk’ from Strength Training
By: Matt Nicholson
Many women often have a fear of strength training with weights or have a misconception that they will build too much bulk if they weight train. There are several great health benefits of weight training for women. Women have too much estrogen, the primary female sex hormone that promotes the development and maintenance of female characteristics in the human body. Women naturally have less muscle mass than men but weight training can help women improve strength for everyday tasks and functional lifting movements, help prevent age-related loss of muscle mass, and reduce bone loss to help prevent osteoporosis.
Strength or resistance training can be supplemented with a weight loss or cardio program as well. Strength results can also be achieved without the use of heavy weights as well simply by using body weight, resistance bands, small weights, or household items. When combined with cardio, resistance training can help reduce fat and provide a more toned or ‘fit’ look. It is recommended that healthy adults perform at least two days of strength/resistance training a week, performing 8-12 repetitions for each exercise. For beginners, start light with body weight focusing on proper form then work to light weight and gradually increase as you get stronger.
Body weight strength exercises for Beginners:
- Push-ups (wall, knee, or floor): Keep back and hips flat from head to toe and lower weight until elbows are bent at 90 degrees at the bottom then extend arms to raise up.
- Air squats: hinge at the hips and sit back like sitting down into a chair until knees are bent at 90 degrees, then lift up
- Lunges: Split stance with one foot out in front at stride length. Drive the back knee to the ground while keeping the front knee straight over the ankle
Weighted Strength exercises:
- Floor dumbbell press: Lay down on your back with dumbbells and push weight up over chest with arms extended at the top.
- Weighted Front Squat: Perform a squat with weights out in front of body in each hand or using a single weight with both hands together and elbows out
- Dumbell Row: Bend over or place one knee and same side arm extended under head on a sturdy level surface like a bench or chair. Keep a wide stance with the other leg to provide a strong base for support and hold the weight in the outside hand then pull from the back and shoulder up to armpit.
** Focus on executing each exercise perfectly. THEN add weight. If it does not feel right, get a trainer to assess your form**
“Strength Training for Women”, October 7, 2016. American College of Sports Medicine. http://www.acsm.org/public-information/articles/2016/10/07/strength-training-for-women