by Jennifer Cassetta, Vega Ambassador “I don’t want to bulk up” was the biggest excuse I would hear as a trainer as to why some women didn’t want to lift weights. After explaining to them that it is actually difficult for women to bulk up and that women bodybuilders have to extremely modify their diets to get those results, my female clients would usually give in. After a couple of months of strength training just twice a week, these women usually started seeing definition in their bodies and although sometimes the scale wouldn’t move much, their clothes were getting looser. Toning and trimming down is a definite great result of strength training, but here are 5 more important reasons why every woman should strength train:
1. Burn more calories while you sleep
Sign me up! This is the number one reason why I incorporate weight training into my exercise routine. The more lean muscle mass that you have on your body, the higher your RMR (resting metabolic rate) is. Your RMR is the rate at which you burn calories at rest. So for me, it’s always been more important to count my reps versus counting calories.
2. Build stronger bones
Osteoporosis is a preventable disease that makes your bones porous and brittle and therefore, easier to fracture and break. 80% of Americans with osteoporosis are women.1 Our bones can become more brittle due to a poor diet of processed foods, tons of sugar, high animal protein and smoking. Low levels of estrogen also lead to bone loss, which is why many women start to lose bone mass at a rapid rate after menopause. The good news is that strength training helps increase bone mass by putting stress on them. Studies have shown post-menopausal women increase their bone mass from weight training.2 But you don’t have to wait until menopause. Starting earlier can help you increase your peak bone mass, which usually happens between 25 and 30 years of age.
3. Lower your blood sugar levels
Strength training not only helps lower your blood sugar levels after a meal high in sugar or grains but over the long-term it can actually support healthy insulin levels.3 Work your bigger muscle groups, like glutes, quads and hamstrings, after a big meal or a splurge that’s high in sugar. Do some squats or lunges to help the insulin shuttle blood sugar into stored glycogen.
4. Have a quicker recovery from pregnancy
If having a baby is on your radar, start training for pregnancy. Fitter moms have shorter labors, less complications and speedier recoveries.4 Yes, cardio and pre-natal yoga are great, but there is nothing like pumping some iron to get your body ready for baby.
5. Prevent “real life” injuries
Have you ever bent over to pick up your child and thrown your back out? How about moved a heavy box and tweaked your neck? It happens to the best of us. But, with a balanced and functional training routine you can help prevent injuries like these from happening when you least accept them. Focus on the core and back are two very common areas that we tend to ignore that really need the most attention.
How does strength training help you live your best life?
1. Benjamin RM. (2010). Bone Health: Preventing Osteoporosis.Public Health Report. 125(3): 368–370.Accessed on 5/18/15 from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2848259/
2. Guadalupe-Grau A, Fuentes T, Guerra B, Calbet JA. (2009). Exercise and bone mass in adults. Sports Medicine. 39(6):439-68.
3. Williams MA. (2007). Resistance Exercise in Individuals With and Without Cardiovascular Disease: 2007 Update A Scientific Statement From the American Heart Association Council on Clinical Cardiology and Council on Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Metabolism. Circulation. 116: 572-584 Accessed on 5/18/15 from: http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/116/5/572.full.pdf+html
4. Price BB1, Amini SB, Kappeler K. (2012). Exercise in pregnancy: effect on fitness and obstetric outcomes-a randomized trial. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. 44(12):2263-9.