Strength training — also known as weight or resistance training — physical exercises which are designed to improve strength and endurance, including free-weights, weight machines, or your own body weight.
Strength training is important for men and women alike. And no, it is not likely to make women bulky.
In fact, it will make you strong, improve bone strength, muscle strength, mobility and agility.
When women reach their menopause age, it becomes even more important for them to include strength training in their exercise routine, as it helps in preventing or slowing down bone loss associated with menstruation.
What’s more, regularly doing strength training can promote muscle growth and fat loss.
Having said all of this, there are still a lot of myths surrounding strength training, especially for women. Here are some of them
Myths surrounding strength training for women
1. Weight training will make you bulky
While most people will gain a certain amount of lean muscle mass when they first start strength training, it is very difficult to gain the extreme amounts of muscle that we see experienced athletes and bodybuilders display. Women have only around 1/10th of the testosterone that men do, and this limits the amount of muscle than women can gain.
2. You already have to be fit to start
It is a common misconception that you already have to be ‘in shape’ to start strength training or lifting weights.
In fact, learning to do the basic strength training exercises with light weights and good form can help you get fit, strong and mobile in a structured, progressive manner.
This fitness can then be used to perform other fitness related activities.
3. High reps will improve muscle ‘tone’
It is a common misconception that lifting lighter weights for high reps will improve muscle tone and that lifting heavy weights will make you bulky. This is false. Muscle tone is a product of the body fat percentage of an individual and how strong their muscles are. A strong muscle that is not surrounded by fatty tissue will look more defined and toned.
Basic strength training patterns
When choosing a fitness program, it is important that the program contains these basic movement patterns:
1. Push – Eg. push-up, shoulder press, etc. Activates shoulders, chest and triceps.
2. Pull – Eg. dumbbell row, lat pull-down, pull up, etc.. Activates lats, middle and lower traps.
3. Hinge – Eg. deadlift, kettlebell swing, bridges, etc. Activates hamstrings, glutes and lower back.
4. Squat – Eg. squat with barbell/kettlebell/dumbbell, lunges, etc. Activates the entire lower body including glutes, hamstrings and quadriceps.
5. Core – Eg. planks, side plank, chops and lifts, etc. Activates upper abs, lower abs, obliques and lower back.
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