by Nora Wallace Walsh
Research has shown that women who maintain a consistent, moderate strength-training program enjoy a long list of health benefits. Despite these benefits (listed below), some women still fear that strength training might bulk them up instead of help them lose weight.
The muscle-building potential that men have is enhanced by the presence of testosterone, but even with testosterone, it is very difficult for the average male to build so much muscle that they become bulky. Women on the other hand have 10 to 30 times less testosterone than men do and have very little chance of ever bulking up.
According to Wayne Westcott, PhD, from the South Shore YMCA in Quincy, Massachusetts, here are some important reasons why women need to strength train:
1. You’ll lose more fat than you’ll gain in muscle. The average woman who strength trains 2-3 times a week for eight weeks gains 1.75 pounds of muscle and loses 3.5 pounds of fat.
2. Your new muscle will help you lose weight. As you add muscle from strength training, your resting metabolism increases, so you’ll burn more calories throughout the day. For each pound of muscle you gain, you’ll burn 35-50 more calories per day.
3. You’ll be a stronger woman. Moderate strength training increases a woman’s strength by 30 to 50%. Extra strength makes it easier to accomplish your activities of daily living, such as lifting your kids or carrying the groceries.
4. Your bones will benefit. By the time you leave high school, you have established all the bone mineral density you’ll ever have – unless you strength train. Strength training can increase spinal bone mineral density by 13% in six months. Strength training is key to preventing osteoporosis.
5. You will be able to beat back pain. A recent study showed that strengthening the low-back muscles had an 80% success rate in eliminating or alleviating low-back pain.
6. It will work no matter how old you are. Studies show that strength improvements are possible at any age. It is never too late to start.
From Sarah: Nora has lots of helpful advice about how to keep your body in the best of health. You can find more at at her site