Resistance Training For Females

This month I’ve decided to aim my article specifically to the female clients of Optimum. While it doesn’t directly relate to every one of you, I do believe there are a lot of misconceptions surrounding this topic that need to be addressed in order for you to get the best out of your exercise.

Throughout my time as an Exercise Physiologist I have trained many female clients, a lot of which have thrown a few common phrases at me when the topic of weight training arises:
“I want to tone up.”
“I don’t want to get bulky.”
or “I don’t want to look like a bodybuilder.”

It surprises me how many women believe that lifting heavy weights will turn them into some sort of gargantuan man-lady and I’m here to show you why that is wrong.

I want to “tone up”. This is by far and away the most common goal that I see women write down when they first step into our studio. The concept of “toning” is simple, yet, misunderstood. Toning your muscles does not mean lifting light weights for gratuitous reps and sets. That is a myth. Toning is the combination of decreasing body fat and increasing muscle mass. Yes that’s right in order to tone up; your muscles need to get bigger! But wait…before you conjure up images of ripped biceps and giant legs, let me explain why females do not respond to weight training the same as men.

The answer lies with testosterone; you don’t have enough of it! Females do not have the same hormonal profile as men. You do produce some testosterone from the ovaries and adrenal glands in small amounts but, to put it simply, you do not produce nearly enough to pack on muscles mass as easily as males. So stop stressing, you will not transform into The Incredible Hulk overnight.

Secondly, the benefits of regular weight training and increasing lean muscle mass are second to none. Just to name a few:

Increase metabolism (aka daily calorie expenditure) – Resistance training results in the body needing to repair the muscles that were used; causing an increase in EPOC (Exercise Post Oxygen Consumption). Meaning calories are burnt at an increased rate up to 24-72 hours after a workout.

Helps body fat loss – The more calories your body burns each day contributes to your caloric deficit resulting in lower body fat levels.

Better quality sleep – Strength training aids your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep longer without waking at night.

Increased levels of energy – Studies suggest that resistance training, even in light bouts, offer a similar boost in energy levels as a cup of coffee.

Improved heart health – People who lift weights are less likely have heart disease risk factors such as a large waist circumference, high triglycerides, elevated blood pressure, and elevated glucose levels.

Bone health – As age increases so does the amount of bone mineral density lost. Women who are post-menopause are at an even greater risk of developing conditions such as osteoporosis as the body no longer secretes estrogen. Weight training can reduce the loss of bone mass and, therefore, the risk of developing osteoporosis.

Stress Relief – Exercise releases hormones serotonin and dopamine, which has a beneficial effect on the mood, memory and social behaviour of an individual.

So get out there and lift ladies! No more will you have to ask your husband or partner to come move the sofa for you, your neighbour to help with your heavy bins on bin night or the taxi driver to help get your bags into the boot. Weight training is the key to unlocking functional strength, overall health and living life to the fullest.

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