When I worked for a local box gym, each member would get a free workouts with a trainer every month. women would come to me wanting to lose weight, flatten their tummies, get rid of their “batwings”, and tone up. None of them expressed a desire to get stronger or to learn how to use the free weights. In fact, these women wanted to stay away from the free weights. The reasons ranged from feeling intimidated by the weights and their lack of knowledge, to not wanting to be bulky or look like a man. One woman actually told me that she did not want to venture over to the free weights at all, but wanted to look like me. For someone who loves to strength train and throw that iron around, this was very frustrating.
That is why I started StrongGirl Revolution. I wanted to show women that it’s important for us to strength train. Not just lift weights, but lift heavier weights than the 5-10 pounders. It is important for our overall health, especially as we age.
Why is strength training so important? Here are 5 benefits you can get from lifting that iron:
1. WEIGHT LOSS
Most women think that to lose weight they need to do hours of cardio. After all, that was the thinking for many years. Research has shown that to be untrue.
Our bodies expend energy (calories) at rest just keeping us alive. Think breathing, beating hearts, cell renewal, and, yes, muscle maintenance and repair. Fat, on the other hand, does not need energy to be maintained. Therefore, the more lean muscle mass you have, the more energy your body needs to expend to maintain it.
To put it another way, you may burn more calories on your hour long run than you would in an hour long lifting session, but you won’t burn any calories after that run. When you lift weights, your muscles get little tears in them. Your body will repair those muscles, making them grow and strengthening them. This requires energy (calories). You will burn even more calories for hours after your lifting session, ultimately trumping that run.
2. BONE HEALTH
When we lift weights, our muscles tug on your bones to move. In response, our bones create new bone cells. If we stay consistent with our strength training, over time our bones strengthen and become denser. This is really important as we age, as we begin to lose muscle mass and bone density due to lowering estrogen levels.
3. IMPROVE COORDINATION, BALANCE, AND POSTURE
At our first meeting, one of my clients told me she was very uncoordinated. She was a self-described “rag doll”. Her muscles were weak, creating wobbly joints. Plus, she didn’t know where her body was in space. I see this often. Good news, you can make great improvements to your coordination.
By being consistent with your strength training, you can teach your brain and your body how to work together. Your muscles and joint connective tissue get stronger. You’ll notice you lose the “rag doll” and begin to move stronger and with purpose. You’ll also see your balance improve as those muscles get stronger. You may even notice that you are sitting and standing more upright.
4. IMPROVED ENERGY AND MOOD
Our bodies are built to move and be active. When we don’t move, we feel sluggish, put on excess weight, and maybe feel sad or depressed.
Strength training helps your body move better, losing the sluggishness and taking off that excess weight. When we move, our joints feel better, our muscles don’t feel as tight, and we feel happier. Exercise in general is shown to improve symptoms of depression. Get moving!
5. FEELING OF GENERAL BADASSERY
This may be the last benefit listed here, but to me it is the most important one.
I wish every woman would strength train so they can experience the feeling of empowerment and badassery that is gotten by accomplishing something you didn’t think you could do. It feels amazing to get your first push-up or pull-up. You feel like you can take on the world after you deadlift 100 lbs off the ground.
I took one of my clients to do a charity obstacle race put on by a fellow trainer and studio owner. My client was quite scared. She had never done and obstacle race before. This obstacle race was hard for her, but she finished it. She later told me that completing that obstacle race was a turning point for her. She no longer feared the unknown. She felt as if she could take on anything. It is my mission to help as many women as possible discover this feeling.
Ladies, make your way to those weights. These are just 5 benefits, but there are many more.