In an era where women have no problem fighting for equality at work and at home, it’s surprising that many still believe that there are places where they don’t belong, one of them being the weight room. Go into any gym and the cardio room is filled with both men and women but step into the weight room and you’ll be lucky if you see one or two among the masses of men. And yet strength training is important for all women.
As women age, they lose muscle mass. In fact, begin to lose muscle mass beginning at the age of 20. You can actually lose up to even pounds of lean muscle each decade. This decrease in muscle will not only lead to strength loss but it can also lead to weight gain. Muscle is more metabolically active than fat so the less muscle you have, the slower your metabolism. To avoid weight gain and ensure that you are strong into your senior years, it’s important to strength train.
You also slowly lose bone mass beginning at the age of 30. This can put you at risk of osteoporosis, bone fractures and other injuries. Strength training has been proven to increase bone density, regardless of your age.
If you’re looking to lose weight, it is even more important that you introduce weight training to your regimen. Studies show that when women diet, up to 30 percent of their weight loss comes from water, muscle and bone. The only way to counter this muscle and bone loss is through strength training.
Contrary to popular beliefs, women will not look like Arnold Schwarzenegger if they lift weights. Unless they are doing super heavy weights and supplementing with anabolic steroids, they’ll rarely gain more than two pounds of muscle a month, and that usually slows down as you continue to lift weights.
The Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines recommend that adults perform strength training activities for all major muscle groups at least two times per week. If you can stick to these guidelines, you’ll reduce bone and muscle loss, increase your strength and help ensure that you can live an independent life well into your retirement years.