As we kick off the new year with our Strength Challenge, there’s no better time to visit the real benefits of strength training.

Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, there is a common misconception that lifting weights isn’t for women. Some of these misconceptions include:

  • Muscle makes you bulky
  • Women aren’t built for lifting heavy weights
  • Women should leave weight training to the men
  • Cardio is the key to fat loss
  • Older women shouldn’t strength train

These statements are all myths. In fact, weight training is so good for you — particularly if you are a  woman — that it can build stronger muscles and bones and even slow down the aging process! So the next time someone tries to dissuade you from strength training by mentioning these myths, you’ll be armed with the facts.

Strength training helps prevent bone loss

Studies have shown that strength training has a greater positive effect on bone density that other types of exercise. Despite what these myths tell us, strength training is especially important for women.

After the age of 35, women start to lose bone mass. It accelerates further after menopause, with some women losing as much as 30 percent bone density. This leaves us at an increased risk of developing osteoporosis , a disease that weakens bones and may lead to potential fractures. By weight training in our 20s and 30s, we can help maintain our bone density all the way through and after menopause.

But don’t be fooled that you need to start in your younger years! Studies have shown that in post-menopausal women, strength training “preserved bone density while improving muscle mass, strength, and balance in postmenopausal women,” thus reducing the risk of fractures and immobility.

Weight training can be anti-aging

Not only are you preventing bone loss, lifting weights can also help you look younger! Resistance workouts help to strengthen muscles that maintain an upright posture. In turn you can then go about daily tasks with more ease and flexibility, which means you’ll be able to do the things you love for longer.

Resistance training makes you faster and improves athletic performance

Larry Tucker, a professor in exercise sciences at Brigham Young University, says, “There are so many misconceptions about strength and resistance training. One is that you’ll become muscle-bound.” Tucker dispelled this myth when his team discovered that athletes who started strength training found that they could perform better: hitting a ball farther, jumping higher and running faster. He explains: “Gradually, we started realizing there are benefits beyond sports. Muscle mass allows us to move.”

As far as looking bulky goes, women simply do not have the testosterone to build muscle like men. We have 10 to 30 times less testosterone, therefore we find it much more challenging to gain size from weight training. What we do gain is muscle definition and strength. Bonus!  

Strength training can lower the risk of diabetes

Research suggests that strength training can reduce the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. “We found that in the group that did fairly large amounts of both [cardio and strength training], there was about a 60 percent reduced risk of diabetes, which is huge,” said Dr. Walter Willett, chairman of the department of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health and an author of the study. He continues, “Some people really can’t get aerobic exercise in their life, and we found that even a small amount of resistance exercise can make a difference.”

Weight training helps you lose body fat

This may not be everyone’s goal, but if fat loss is part of why you workout, strength training can help you reach that goal just as much as cardiovascular training can– maybe even better. We’ve already established that weight training builds muscle and tone, and more muscle means an increased metabolism (even on days when you’re not working out). Whether weight loss is a goal or not, you’ll end up with an all-around stronger physique! What’s not to like about that?

A great move to incorporate these benefits is the Turkish Get Up, which requires focus, coordination and a heap of core strength. Below is a pic of Chief Badass performing the move in a cat mask… 

The Core Strength Challenge starts January 27th! Click here to learn more.

 

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Olivia Pennelle

Located in Portland, OR, Olivia Pennelle (Liv) is an experienced writer, journalist, and coach. She is the founder of the popular site Liv’s Recovery Kitchen, a site dedicated to helping people flourish in their recovery. Liv is passionate about challenging limiting mentalities and empowering others to direct their own lives, health, and recovery. You can find her articles across the web on podcasts and publications across the web, including Ravishly, The Fix, Recovery.org, Workit Health, and STAT News. Liv was recently featured in VICE.

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