Strength training has many benefits for women. There is endless research on the positive effects on athletic performance, but more importantly strength training can impact not just athletes, but women of all ages, in many aspects of their life. In my athletic career, strength training has helped me reach my goals, feel confident in my skin, feel strong athletically and mentally, and feel good about my overall health. In my experience as a performance specialist, I’ve found that many female clients and athletes want to avoid strength training because they think they’ll get big bulky muscles. They desire a “toned” body and think the path to that is on cardio machines or in spin class. But, this just isn’t the case. Not only can resistance training help women achieve their physical goals, without the mass they assume comes with strength training, incorporating it into their routine can have countless important benefits to overall health and well-being.
Here are the top 5 reasons why women should strength train:
1. Overall Health Benefits
When women think about strength training, they think about the physical effect it could have on their appearance. What is more important is the long-term impact it can have on their health. Here are some of the health benefits of strength training:
- Decreased chances of Alzheimer’s and increased cognitive function for those already diagnosed
- Decreased risk of osteoporosis, or reduces its severity
- Lowers cholesterol levels (specifically increases HDL and decreases LDL)
- Decreased risk in cardiovascular disease
- Reduce PMS symptoms
- Decreased risk of breast cancer
- Lowers blood pressure
- Decreased risk for diabetes
- Decreased chance of colds and illnesses
- Reduces stress and anxiety
2. Proactive Approach for Injury Prevention
We all have performance goals we have to meet on a daily basis, whether they are achieved in the gym, at work or at home chasing kids. Being stronger helps us perform tasks with more ease and efficiency, which decreases the chances of getting hurt. A nurse who has to help move a patient, a mom picking up her three year old, carrying groceries to your car, slipping on the ice, walking up a flight of stairs – these are all likely scenarios that could cause an injury, but could be avoided simply by being stronger.
3. Enhances Performance of Everyday Tasks
If the tasks mentioned in #2 also tend to tire you out easily, strength training can help with that too. When an individual becomes stronger they are able to perform everyday tasks with more ease and efficiency. Walking up the stairs, playing with kids, moving boxes at work, walking to your car, twisting a lid off a jar, the list goes on and on. If we are stronger we can attack daily tasks with a new found confidence without fear of struggle and failure.
4. Tone Muscles, Decrease Body Fat (clothes fit better!)
Getting stronger does not always equate to muscle mass/bulk. But strength training does increase metabolism. Your body continues to burn calories hours after a strength training session. Strength training will increase muscle mass and decrease body fat, which will give muscles a more defined look. Although weight might not necessarily decrease right away, your clothes should start fitting better and waist measurements should decrease.
5. Positive Psychological Benefits
Strength training has shown to improve psychological well-being and increase positivity with one’s body image. Some of these psychological benefits include:
- Better sleep quality, which decreases cortisol levels that can impact weight-loss and metabolism
- Better sleep will also help handle stress more effectively
- Increases confidence in one’s own ability to perform tasks
- Improves body image
To learn more about strength training, visit with our performance specialists at Sports Advantage powered by EXOS.
Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson is a performance specialist with Altru Advanced Orthopedics. Outside of work and hockey, she enjoys downtime with her husband, dog and family.