Now, if you don’t do any strength training, let me share some thoughts for you to consider:
Personally, I believe that most people, male or female, can benefit from strength training, as it can increase bone density, muscle strength, and the body’s basic metabolism. Let’s face it, weights can make you feel strong and in control, and tighten your overall body to fight the ravages of time and bad habits!
Many women shy away from weights because they fear becoming bulky, muscle bound, vein popping maniacs. Without some SERIOUS tampering with diet and body chemicals, that is simply not going to happen for most women. We do not produce enough testosterone to build that much muscle mass, and our bodies are inherently set up to store fat in certain body parts (breast, buttocks, hips, thighs…sigh). Also, our basic bone structure is generally smaller and wouldn’t support that level of muscle mass.
Also, you remember that phase were most girls were several inches taller than the boys? Because of the timing and length of our adolescent growth spurts, women’s bone density is often less than that of men. As far back as 1994, the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that women as old as 70 can stop and often increase bone density with just a twice weekly lifting regimen. Can we say fight osteoporosis now?!?!
Women’s hips tend to be broader than men’s, whereas men’s shoulder’s tend to be broader than women’s. This can result in different angles of muscle attachment, which can result in areas are more prone to injury…such as knee injuries. Weight training, especially when you train a muscle from multiple angles and with steady progress, can actually help to stabilize and strengthen muscles around these “weak” points.
And last but not least: More muscle mass means a higher metabolism…so higher calorie burn…YAY!
If you are just starting out, working out with a partner is a great boon! I’d also recommend a good resource book. I like Strength Training for Women
by Lori Incledon. She’s a licensed athletic trainer and physical therapist assistant. Her book not only has many great exercises with pictures and instructions, she goes into a great deal of information about how to set up your own training program to focus on your personal goals, whether they be muscle building, strength, power, and/or endurance. She also discusses agonist/antagonist muscle groups (opposing push/pull muscle groups like your back/chest muscles or triceps/biceps). So, there is some good information here…I welcome any other reference/resources you may find!
So, pump up some enthusiasm and see how it can improve your training!