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The benefits of strength training for women

Hadyn Luke posted this on Friday 3rd of May 2013 Hadyn Luke 03/05/2013

Tags: Training methods

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The benefits of strength training for women

Today our blog focuses on the positive side of strength training, in particular in relation to women. 

Personal trainers may find that female clients express a reluctance to work with weights for fear of developing large muscles. However it is a misconception that everyone who lifts weights will put on substantial muscle bulk. 

Resistance or strength training can bring many health benefits and is suitable for anyone wishing to increase their fitness levels, not just for those wishing to improve sports performance or for those looking to increase their body mass. 

The everyday benefits of strength training

Regular stimulation of muscle fibres not only improves general fitness levels, but also helps the body to work more efficiently when carrying out everyday activities, from shopping to walking the dog.

Strength training can benefit the elderly, as a strong, well-conditioned older person is less likely to fall and injure themselves. 

Losing weight through strength training

A common misconception is that following a strength training programme will automatically increase muscle mass. In fact, it can allow an individual to gain extra lean muscle and cut down on body fat. 

If a client is looking to lose weight, strength training can be as effective at burning body fat as cardio-vascular work, especially when employed in conjunction with a healthy diet. 

The Basal Metabolic Rate or BMR (see our blog on BMRs: Calories, body fat and burning energy) measures how many calories our body will burn when sedentary. As muscle is living tissue that needs fuel, the more muscle mass a person has, the more calories they will burn, even when they are not active.

So strength training can:

  • Help reduce body fat
  • Help build lean muscle tissue
  • Increase your BMR

Health benefits of strength training

A personal trainer may also want to stress the health benefits of strength training to their clients, including: 

  • Reducing blood pressure
  • Reducing the risk of developing diabetes, by improving insulin sensitivity, and other conditions associated with obesity
  • Reducing pain from arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis
  • Increasing bone mineral density and so preventing or relieving osteoporosis and reducing the likelihood of hip and other fractures
  • Helping to fight off toxins from alcohol, stress and pollution
  • Supporting the immune system through the minerals stored in the bones and muscles 

How often should strength training be carried out?

Strength training is classed as a high-intensity activity so a personal trainer would need to ensure that their client has a good base level of aerobic fitness or has carried out a long period of endurance-based resistance training.

The usual expectation would be for a client to work at 85% of their one rep max, with two to six sets of one to five repetitions, and an optimal recovery time of three to five minutes. The ideal frequency per muscle group would be one to two per week.

This should show significant benefits in the general health and fitness levels of any individual, and there’s no need for women to be concerned that it will cause them to bulk up or put on weight – in fact, the opposite is true.

 

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