I’m sure you have all heard this before, but I’m going to say it again. Strength training is so important! Working in the health industry I can’t tell you how many people I come across who are trying to lose weight and trying to be more fit but they refuse to pick up the weights. I see this with women especially. They are too worried about bulking up and looking too manly. I promise, if you are a woman and you start lifting weights you will not end up looking like Arnold Schwarzenegger. First of all, our bodies have too much estrogen and not enough testosterone for that so, unless you are taking hormones that won’t happen. Secondly, you need to be doing some seriously crazy training to bulk up like that.
So pick up the weights! Strength training has some really great benefits for men and women; it’s not just for bodybuilding. Women in particular generally have less lean body mass than men, as we age we tend to lose even more of the lean body mass. Weight training is a great way to be proactive and help maintain that muscle mass to combat frailty as we age. Weight training also reduces bone loss and can help prevent osteoporosis (“Strength training for,” 2011). Not only will it help you in the long run as you age but it will just make you stronger and more confident, and will make everyday activities a little easier.
Contrary to what many people believe, weight training is also a great tool for weight loss for men and women. I remember when I was growing up, hearing that if you wanted to slim down you just had to do cardio at a low intensity for a long time (now we know that isn’t the best method but that’s for another post) and NEVER EVER lift weights if you want to lose weight. Well, that’s wrong. Studies have shown that regular resistance training can increase your resting energy expenditure 7% or more. That means if you have a resting metabolic rate of 1500 calories per day, that’s an extra 100 calories every day! It is thought that the increase in energy expenditure from resistance training is largely due to the energy requirements necessary to repair the muscle tissues after a strength training session. Assuming you do weight training 2-3 days per week it is likely that the increased metabolic rate will remain elevated as long as the resistance training continues (“Resting energy expenditure ,” 2010). Therefore, in combination with cardiovascular training, regular weight training c.n help you lose body fat, increase strength and be more toned and fit and not leave you looking huge and bulky, unless you want to be huge and bulky then in that case well, your workout will be a little different.
For strength training American College of Sport Medicine (ACSM) recommends 1-3 sets of 8-12 repetitions with a load that is 60-70% of your 1 rep max (RM), the max amount you can lift for a single repetition ( if you are trying to find your one rep max, please make sure you are being safe and have a spotter). For endurance training ACSM recommends 2-4 sets of 10-25 repetitions with a load lower than 70% your 1RM (“Strength training for,” 2011).
So, if burning more calories as rest, looking toned and fit, and being stronger and more confident doesn’t convince you that lifting weights is awesome. Well, then I say just give it a try for a few weeks. It doesn’t have to be an hour long session. If you aren’t comfotable lifting weights at the gym or are too intimidated by the big lifters, see if your gym has a resistance based group class, the instructors there will be able to teach you proper form and help you modify moves if necessary. Don’t have a gym? Try a resistance based, home workout video. Even just doing push-ups and squats while you are watching tv is a great place to start.
Resting energy expenditure (2010, March 20). ACSM news , twenty (one ), 10-10. Retrieved from http://certification.acsm.org/files/file/ACSM_CNEWS_20-1.pdf
Strength training for women (2011, October 04). ACSM public articles, Retrieved from http://www.acsm.org/access-public-information/articles/2011/10/04/strength-training-for-women