Working at a gym, I often see women who head straight for the cardio machines and never leave. Enticed by the calorie counter, they are convinced that this is the only exercise they need to do. When you suggest they might want to do some resistance training, they frown and say “I don’t want to bulk up”, “or doesn’t cardio burn more calories?”
Now, don’t get me wrong – I would rather be outside running than in the gym lifting weights. As I get older and wiser I’m recognizing the benefits of lifting weights for women. Here are just a few of the benefits:
Maintain Bone density
For me this is the biggest reason for weight training. Weight bearing exercise is believed to help increase bone density, but resistance training has been shown to have more effect than cardio. ( http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9927006) Our bones are constantly remodelling, tearing down and rebuilding. Estrogen helps us keep ahead of this process, but as we approach menopause we lose this advantage. That is where exercise can help. It seems our bones need to be stimulated to keep rebuilding. This is especially important if you are small boned.
Of course you don’t want to wait until you are older to start weight training. Building strong bones is something we want to start doing when we are young, and keep working at to maintain the strength.
A session of weight training will increase raise your metabolism for hours after you exercise. If you manage to add some muscle mass, that muscle is going to burn more calories than fat. For best results you want to train big muscles like leg and back muscles and use heavy weights. Start by picking a weight you can lift about 10 times with good form.
Reverse strength declines
The familiar adage “if you don’t use it, you lose it” really applies here. We’ve all seen the little old lady who struggles to get out of a chair and we think, “I don’t want that to be me”. This age related muscle loss is not inevitable. Muscle that is not used will waste away. Strength training can help to maintain that muscle mass and keep us strong so we don’t have to be frail in our golden years.
Improve how your body looks and feels
Lifting weights can improve how your body looks and feels. By doing resistance training you can improve your posture and add muscle to the back, arms or shoulders. You are unlikely to put on somuch muscle that you bulk up. Best of all is the feeling of confidence you get going up to the squat rack and adding weight to the bar because you know you can lift it.
If you already participate in sports, then weight training can improve your performance. Runners are often scared that adding muscle will slow them down. In reality weight training can help to prevent muscle imbalances, and the increase in muscle strength will improve performance.
Lifting weights isn’t just for men. In fact women have more to gain from lifting weights than men. We are generally smaller than men and don’t have the advantages that testosterone provides in gaining muscle mass.
If you would like help with a weight training program click here to see my program offerings or contact me for more information.
For ideas on how to lose weight during menopause download my free guide.