Is it really necessary for women to lift weights? Yes.
Weight training is necessary for all populations. This includes women and men, adolescents and elderly, and limited or disabled populations. Each demographic may have their trends in fitness goals, but all people should lift weights to improve health and fitness. Women’s fitness goals may be slightly different than men’s, but often they will share the same goals of losing weight and getting stronger.
Will you bulk up? No.
Lifting weights 2-3 times a week will not bulk a woman up to where she looks less feminine. I’ve heard this concern countless times when establishing goals for a new female clients. If you take a look at your local gym, how many women do you see that look bulky or over muscular? One, maybe two? Out of all the women doing weight training there might only be a couple of women who look very muscular. Typically these women want to look muscular and train very intensely for the sole purpose of building muscle.
Women will not bulk up easily because their hormonal makeup will not allow them to. The hormone testosterone is a major contributor to building muscle and women produce much less of it than men. If you had a group of men and women do the same weight training program for a given time, the women would build about half as much muscle as the men(4). The muscle gained, say 3 lbs. in 3 months, is a great thing and almost all women will be happy with the increase in strength as well as a more fit appearance.
Why all women should weight train
Increase Strength – Most women are not looking to bench press 150 lbs., but they are interested in being able to perform daily activities with ease. Increasing strength will make you feel more athletic and functional doing anything from lifting a heavy object to picking up a pen off the ground. Improved strength will make every day easier.
Increase metabolism – Is it really true the more muscle you have the higher your metabolism? Yes. There is much debate regarding this concept, but scientifically it is true. Many people have tried to nail down how much one pound of muscle burns in a day. At rest it has been shown to burn about 5 calories, which may sound insignificant, but it will burn much more during and after exercise(4). So although a 5 lbs. increase in muscle mass may result in only 25 more calories burned in a day, during exercise this number can be greatly increased. It is nearly impossible to predict how many more calories that extra 5 lbs. of muscle burns because it all depends on the activity performed and how adapted the person is to the exercise. From my professional and personal experience I have seen client’s metabolism increase anywhere from 50 more calories burned on average per day up to 500 calories more per day.
Increase bone density – Weight training is one of the best activities for increasing bone density due to the moderate, but also beneficial stress it puts on your bones. Countless studies have shown that weight training 2-3 times a week with moderate loads increased bone mineral density in all ages of women from the adolescent to the elderly(1,2,3). Running is also great at increasing bone density. Fortunately we run and lift weights in Breakthrough Fitness Bootcamp!
Prevent Injuries – If done correctly, weight training will help tremendously with injury prevention. It will help stabilize joints and protect them from the forces of daily activities. Strengthening the right muscles will help improve static and functional posture. A few simplified concepts on injury prevention: Stronger “core” = less back problems. Stronger glutes = less back, knee, and ankle problems. Stronger upper back muscles = less shoulder problems.
Lifting weights is for everyone and everyone should be lifting weights.
1)Petranik, K., Kris Berg. The effect of weight training on bone density of premenopausal, postmenopausal, and elderly women: A review. J. Strength and Cond. Res. 11(3):200-208. 1997
2) Martyn-St James M, Carroll S., Progressive high-intensity resistance training and bone mineral density changes among premenopausal women: evidence of discordant site-specific skeletal effects. Clinical Trials Research Unit, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK. Sports Med. 2006;36(8):683-704.
3)Karlsson MK, Johnell O, Obrant KJ. Bone mineral density in weight lifters. Calcif Tissue Int. 1993 Mar;52(3):212-5.
4) Wayne Westcott, Ph.D., CSCS. Role in Body Composition and Health Enhancement. ACSM Strength Training Guildlines. 2009; 13(4)
Downtown San Jose Fitness Bootcamp. Serving The Naglee Park and downtown San Jose neighborhoods. Women's weight training, bone density, increase metabolism, weight loss, interval training, body fat loss.
Jerry Yuhara CPT,PES, has 13 years of personal training and fitness experience. Throughout which, he has learned practical solutions to common fitness concerns. Read about fitness information related to Downtown San Jose Group Fitness