Women are still reluctant to perform any type of strength training, as they associate the training with a “masculinized” body, which is more myth than reality.
Strength training can provide huge benefits to women’s health, such as improving bone mass, reducing injuries (as well as muscle and joint pain), reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, improving body composition and functional capacity and improving self-esteem.
Neolife Sports and Exercise Department.
Women are now increasingly aware of the health benefits associated with regular exercise, but not the benefits of undertaking strength training.
At present, we have witnessed a growing awareness amongst women of the need to practice physical exercise, although at a European level women still engage in physical activities during their free time at a much lower rate than men (1).
At this point, if you have previously read the blog published by the Neolife anti-ageing clinic then you will know that there are more and more researchers and studies that recognize and indeed recommend adequate physical exercise, both in terms of disease prevention and the maintenance of quality of life, or where necessary to improve a specific pathology. It is highly likely that if you are a woman, even one who is physically active…you may not be including any strength training in your weekly physical exercise regime. Though when you finish reading today’s article, we hope you will be convinced of the benefits and start as soon as possible.
Why do women not undergo any strength training?
Basically, we should consider 2 main factors:
- The traditional view of strength training as something typically male and ‘testosterone fueled’.
- General lack of information and proliferation of myths regarding this type of training. The most widespread myth being that the body is going to become excessively corpulent (“bulkier”) and masculinized. But in reality, only women who are genetically predisposed to muscle hypertrophy and those whose workouts are focused on high performance will notice these type of effects.
The gain in muscle mass and strength depends largely on the level of testosterone and in women, this level is low (and can sometimes be too low).
Benefits of strength training in women
The main beneficial effects of carrying out a program that includes strength based exercises include:
- Improves bone mass: Following a strength training program can decrease the loss of bone mineral density associated with aging, and even produces an increase in bone density (2). This is particularly important, especially after the menopause.
- Fewer injuries, less muscle and joint pain: Strength training effectively helps to prevent back and muscular pain in general (3). In addition, it can help to reduce pain and dysfunction in areas where osteoarthritis is present, such as the knee (4).
- Lower risk of cardiovascular diseases: Strength training programs have been observed to have a positive effect on the levels of total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, glucose in the blood and basal insulin (5).
- Improves body composition and functional capacity: Incorporating strength training into physical exercise helps to protect us against the onset of sarcopenia (decrease in muscle mass and general strength) which can prevent us from moving. Consequently, strength training can allow us to continue with our normal daily life and keep our metabolic rate at optimal levels to avoid a situation where we are overweight. It has also been shown to decrease waist circumference (5).
- Improves self-esteem: A strong body, with appropriate levels of body fat that allows us to move effectively is often associated with higher levels of well-being and self-esteem (6).
So, now you know, you need to leave room in your weekly physical exercise regime to include an element of strength training and put yourself in the hands of professionals who can help you achieve your goal. We assure you that you will notice the difference.
(1) Van Tuyckom C, Scheerder J. A multilevel analysis of social stratification patterns of leisure-time physical activity among Europeans. Sci Sports 2010;25:304–11.
(2) Petersen B, Hastings B, Gottschall JS. Low load, high repetition resistance training increases bone mineral density in untrained adults. J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 2015 Sep 11.
(3) You YL, Su TK, Liaw LJ et al. The effect of six weeks of sling exercise training on trunk muscular strength and endurance for clients with low back pain. J Phys Ther Sci. 2015 Aug;27(8):2591-6.
(4) Tanaka R, Ozawa J, Kito N, Morivama H. Efficacy of strengthening or aerobic exercise on pain relief in people with knee osteoarthritis: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Clin Rehabil. 2013 Dec;27(12):1059-71.
(5) Oliveira PF, Gadelha AB, Gauche R et al. Resistance training improves isokinetic strength and metabolic syndrome-related phenotypes in postmenopausal women. Clin Interv Aging. 2015 Aug 7;10:1299-304. doi: 10.2147/CIA.S87036. eCollection 2015.
(6) Diogini R. Resistance training and older adult’ beliefs about psychological benefits; the importance of self-efficacy and social interaction. J Sport Exerc Psychol. 2007 Dec;29(6):723-46.