Back in the old days, doing strength training was purely a man’s world. This dates all the way back to the Golden Era of fitness where it was not uncommon to have a huge gathering of men pressing weights and trying to show off their brute strength. Boy how times have changed.
Fast forward to today and strength training for women is just as popular as that for men, if not more. Part of this shift in consciousness is due to aesthetic reasons and the other is because of the well documented benefits that have appeared through the decades.
Bone Health And Preventing Osteoporosis
Probably the most obvious and talked about benefit of strength training for women is its effects on the bones. I’m sure you are well aware of a condition called osteoporosis? As women age, their bones start to demineralize and become weaker. Fractures can then occur, and in the worst of cases, leave you incapacitated.
Diet has a lot to do with bone health and the prevention of this disease, but, strength training ranks just as high in importance. When you lift weights, your muscles pull on your bones, making them stronger.
Exercises like squats and deadlifts are especially beneficial because they target the large muscles in the lower body where hip fractures often occur. This is often referred to as load-bearing exercise.
Weight-bearing exercise is slightly different. It is performed when your legs and feet are supporting your body from an upright position. Walking, jogging and stair climbing would be examples of this. It’s definitely a good idea to incorporate both forms of exercise in your workouts.
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Another benefit of strength training has to do with fat loss. Although it is true that cardiovascular training lends handy to losing weight by causing a generous caloric expenditure, it’s still only part of the equation. Ideally, fat loss occurs by following a healthy diet, doing cardio AND incorporating strength training.
When you lift weights on a regular basis, you build lean muscle mass. Unlike stored fat, muscle is highly metabolic. This means it burns more calories at rest to maintain itself. A higher metabolism translates to more overall calories burned through the course of the day.
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You can increase the metabolic potential by doing circuit-style, interval strength training where you perform a series of exercises back to back and take short rest breaks in between. By boosting your metabolism and losing weight, you will also reduce your risk for diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure and stroke.
From a functional standpoint, it is important to be and stay strong as a woman. Think about this the next time you pick up your son or daughter from their crib. In fact, think about how many times you have to pick your son or daughter up during the course of one day. How good of a job do you think you will do if you are weak?
If you don’t have kids, you still need to pick up bags of groceries, shovel snow, stack wood, push a broom and rake leaves. Strength training can make all of these activities of daily living much easier.
Lean Muscle Tone Looks Good
Lastly, the aesthetic aspect can have a positive effect on your self-confidence. Think of this as a natural anti-depressant. Strength training also helps you create a slim, toned body that looks good in bathing suits, revealing clothes or anything you choose to wear.
Although the endorphin release you get from exercise is often associated with cardio, you can still get a similar effect from strength training. It’s just not as well documented.
If you have not spent much time lifting weights at this point in your life, it’s never too late to start. Just be sure to use proper technique and always try to make it fun.