Strength Training for Women
By Dr. Rick Kattouf II and Gail Kattouf
According to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), strength training may provide numerous benefits for women. While many women are less inclined to lift weight due to fear of becoming “bulky” and tend to gravitate toward aerobic activity, basic strength training exercises may in fact improve one’s overall structure and function now and as a woman ages. To understand the importance in developing strength, one must first understand why it may be not only important but imperative that strength training becomes an integral part and priority in their fitness routine.
Importance of Strength Training
Because women naturally have less testosterone than men, they tend to then have less muscle mass. Strength training may help improve a woman’s ability to carry out basic daily functions such as lifting groceries, children and grandchildren. In addition, as a woman ages, strength training has been proven to stave off loss of muscle that leads to frailty. Less muscle means less protection around one’s bone and less shock absorption for one’s joints. Probably most importantly for women, strength training applies a “load” or stress to the long bones, hips, and spine that may help reduce bone loss by stimulating bone cell activity. Thereby keeping one’s bone metabolically active and responding to stress by continuous cellular turnover.
Basic strength training when applied properly will lead to positive adaptations in one’s skeletal, muscular and nervous systems that will prove to be useful now and throughout aging process. The National Strength and Conditioning Association has identified additional benefits to strength training and include the following:
Decreasing risks related to cardiovascular disease by decreasing blood pressure.
Improve glucose tolerance and decreases in hemoglobin A1c in patients with diabetes mellitus.
Resistance training may result in improvements in body composition by maintaining or increasing lean body mass and producing modest decreases in the relative percentage of body fat.
Resistance training may reduce anxiety and depression and may result in improved self-efficacy and overall psychological well-being.
Resistance training can reduce the risk of injury during participation in other sports and activities. When performed correctly and properly supervised, it is in and of itself a safe activity with low injury rates.
Resistance training increases muscular strength and endurance, resulting in an increased ability to perform activities of daily living and reduces demands on musculoskeletal, cardiovascular, and metabolic systems.
With so much overwhelming information available on the internet, magazines, and in books regarding strength training, it may be hard for one to discern how to begin a strength training regimen. Gary R. Hunter, Ph.D., CSCS, FACSM sets forth basic guidelines for strength training in his article, “Women and Resistance Training, The Right Program Brings Results for Females Who Train The Right Program Brings Results for Females Who Train” in the ASCM’s Fall 2002 Fit Society Page. One of the most basic tenants that Dr. Hunter conveys in his article to not be afraid to lift weights. He states with each exercise, muscle fatigue should be felt between 6-12 repetitions. For strength training sessions to be of benefit and produce positive effects such as increased strength, the session should be of relatively high intensity and effort.
The ACSM recommends that the women strength train at least twice per week and perform 8-10 repetitions of each exercise. For a basic strength-training program, a whole body routine should consist of ten to twelve different exercises that focus on the large muscle groups of the torso, hips, legs and arms.
Ladies, if you are ready to improve your performance in life, fitness and sport…make strength training an integral part of your weekly workouts. The benefits will amaze you. Enjoy the journey!
Gail Kattouf received her Bachelors and Masters in Health & Exercise Science from Furman University. In 2003 she received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of South Carolina. Gail is a 4x Duathlon National Champion, the 2011 Duathlon World Champion and the 2011 Garmin Age Group Duathlete Of The Year.
Fitness & Nutrition Expert Dr. Rick Kattouf II Named as One of America’s Premier Experts®. Dr. Rick is the CEO/Founder of TeamKattouf, Inc., CEO/Founder of TeamKattouf Nutrition LLC, Creator of 5-Round Fury, Creator of TeamKattouf Nutrition Supplements, Host of Rx Nutrition, author of Forever Fit, ITCA Certified Triathlon Coach, Sports Nutrition Specialist, MMA Conditioning Coach, Food Psychology Coach, Wellness and Nutrition Consultant, Sports Nutrition Consultant, Entrepreneur and Inspirational Speaker. Rick can reached at www.teamkattouf.com or [email protected]