I used to weight train several times a week, I loved the feeling of becoming stronger. But due to the high volume of classes I was doing along with the weight training injury set in. Until recently it will be about 2 years since I lifted.
I wanted to get back on it and I wanted a coach who understood the womans body. I knew Natalie from my gym days and kept an eye on her via face book reading her no nonsense blogs.
We started training slowly and carefully several weeks a go and she has blown me a way with her knowledge.
So I asked Natalie if she would be good enough to write a blog and here it is enjoy and learn
By Natalie Epsein
Strength training for women has, and is, becoming more popular, accepted and understood. But only in more recent years. It wasn’t that long ago Tracy Anderson’s advice was listened to by millions of women around the world. She advised women to lift no more than 3lbs but also told them that running makes you bulky. It didn’t help that she had an army of celebrities under her belt, which of course pricked up the ears of us ‘normal’ women. She must know what she is talking about. She trains Madonna and Gwyneth! I’m sure Tracy still appeals to women out there, each to their own as they say, but do you HONESTLY think what she is advocating is true?
Women’s fear of lifting weights is possibly due to a number of reasons:
Only men lift weights, don’t they? The weights area in the gym is for men. Really? I see plenty of women in the resistance training section of the gym and you know what, no one bats an eyelid.
Women who lift weights, like the men, will OBVIOUSLY start to look like men too! When people think of women and weights, they immediately think of bodybuilders. We tend to look at extreme and rare cases. Not ALL women who lift weight are bodybuilders!
It’s not feminine to throw dumbbells around, grunt and sweat. If we want to, we can. Just like men can join in a dance class or meet up with their friends for lunch. Dancing and lunching are often seen as things women do, but why? Does it matter?
Muscle weighs heavier than fat and therefore the scales will go up. Maybe the scales will go up a tad but if that means you have a cracking set of bum cheeks on you, who cares about a number!? More on this shortly…
Women who have muscle don’t look ladylike or feminine. This is similar to saying something along the lines of Men who don’t have muscle, have a belly and moobs, look like women. This rattles my cage!
So now we have a few thoughts on why strength training for women has been frowned upon in the past, let’s look at the benefits. There are lots!
You CAN gain strength without ‘bulk’
It’s true! Lifting barbells, dumbbells and kettlebells DOES NOT mean you are going to be the female Arnold Schwarzenegger. It DOES NOT mean you will have rippling muscles and look like a man. Do you know how hard these bodybuilders have to work to gain even a couple of pounds of muscle?! Do you know how strict they have to be with their diet? Do you know that some, NOT ALL, use performance enhancing substances such as steroids?
There is a huge, huge difference between strength training 2-3 times a week and the strict regimes that these professionals go through. That is their life. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for most of the year, and some of them still struggle with gaining muscle. Us ‘normal’ people are only doing a fraction of what they do so do you really think you’re going to look like them? Think about it…
What we can do, is gain strength. And who doesn’t want to feel strong?! I’m not talking Strongman competition strong before anything like that enters your head. I’m talking about being able to carry a few shopping bags at the same time (because NOBODY wants to make a second trip out to the car J ), or being able to carry your children or grandchildren for longer, or having the stamina and strength to play with the kids without blowing out of your backside after a few minutes. Strength training CAN and WILL help you with all of these things and more.
Fancy decreasing the risk of osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is characterized by low bone mass and increased susceptibility to fractures. It is not a normal part of aging and it can be prevented. It’s never too late to start preventing the onset of this illness.
Various studies involving strength training have presented positive results in the form of increased bone density in the spine and hips, areas affected most by osteoporosis in older women. Common sense would also tell us that maintaining strong muscles helps with balance and co-ordination – an important element in preventing falls, which can in turn lead to fractures.
There are a few other things you can do to help prevent osteoporosis but strength training is a good place to start.
Had an injury doing something trivial? Do you have muscular pain that doesn’t seem to go away?
Sounds like one of those annoying adverts for insurance claims doesn’t it! But I’m not trying to take your money. I’m just trying to tell you that if you just spend 2-3 hours a week lifting weights then you could alleviate some of that pain you may be experiencing. Not only does it build stronger muscles but also creates stronger connective tissues and increases joint stability.
I have seen and experienced it myself as a coach. I have had people come to me saying “I want to train but please can we not do any weights on my lower back as I have a back problem?” or “I really hurt my shoulder and so I’d rather not do any training on that area”. I completely understand where these people are coming from and I am in no way mocking them but as a coach I understand that careful programming can actually help people with their injuries. My clients have improved with sensible resistance training and they’ve all said they wished they would have made the changes sooner. It really works!