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How Strength Training Keeps Women Young

Posted Aug 23 2008 3:13pm

Women who do not strength train lose about 5 pounds of muscle every decade of their adult life. And they replace it with fat … that is, about 15 pounds of fat per decade.

No longer a men’s only sport, women today are participating in strength training and proving that they are just as capable as men of developing strong muscles. In fact, strength training is important for everyone and women should train the same as men. Take a look at this video of Natalie Wolfolk.

Ladies, if you won’t even consider strength training for fear that you will develop big burly muscles, I beg you to put all fears aside. Strength training for women leads to strong and shapely muscles, not big manly ones. This is due to the fact that women have lower testosterone levels than men. Women will only get bulky by using steroids or pro-hormones.

Strength training builds muscles, but that’s nothing compared to what it does for your health.

  1. Strength training helps you stay young. A strength training study led by Miriam Nelson, Ph.D, author of “ Strong Women Stay Young ,” which involved women aged 40 to over 60, concluded that the women, after only one year of weight training, were physically 15-20 years younger. These women lost their fat and replaced it with muscle, and their strength tests matched those of women in their 30’s and 40’s. Without reading any further, this alone should tempt you to start a strength training program, such as this one over at StrongLifts.com . Strength training may be the best anti-aging defense available.
  2. Weight lifting, combined with cardio and good nutrition, is possibly the best way to lose weight. Quite simply, muscles burn fat! The more muscle you have, the more calories will be burned. Each pound of lean muscle mass burns 35-50 calories per day. Cardio alone is not enough. Following a good cardio workout, your body will continue to burn calories for half an hour. Strength training does much better! Your body will continue to burn calories for up to two hours following a good strength training workout. Adding cardio to your workout schedule will help you burn fat faster and allow you to eat more. Take note though, when you weigh yourself, your scales may tell you that your weight hasn’t changed. That is because muscles weigh more than fat. It is possible to go down in clothing size while your scale is reading the same weight.
  3. Adding muscle increases metabolic rate. As we age, our metabolism slows down, and as a result we start to lose muscle mass, we lose bone density, and we gain fat. As muscle is lost, fat takes over. It is important to keep muscle mass up so as to combat that nasty cellulite that so easily forms on our thighs and our glutes.
  4. Strength training will increase bone density thereby making your bones stronger. Okay, ladies, it’s true. We start out with smaller muscles, more body fat, and frailer bones than men. (But don’t take that to mean we are the weaker sex.) As we age, we are at greater risk for age-related problems such as osteoporosis, loss of balance, and fractures. Increasing your muscle greatly reduces these risks.

  5. Better performance in sports and life in general. Another common fear for women about strength training is the risk of injury. Yes, there is always the possibility. But at the same time strength training will help prevent injuries which are common from day-to-day sports and activities. Having strong bones, ligaments, and tendons reduces risk of injury. It will also help control lower back pain.
  6. Strength training is good for the heart. Women are at an increased risk for heart disease after age 40 so this is a welcomed added benefit.
  7. Strength training builds confidence. By reducing overall body fat and toning muscles, you will look better, feel better, and have increased confidence in yourself.

A lifestyle that includes a good strength training program provides better quality of life.

But that doesn’t mean you have to spend a lot of money. Strength training can be done with little to no equipment. You may even use your own body weight by doing push ups, pull ups, chin ups, and ab crunches.

And you do not have to be able to lift more than twice your weight like Natalie above. Strength training can be done at a level of your choosing. But take it from someone who has been doing it for quite a while. After seeing the results of a new toned body, strength training can become addictive. If you are like me, you’ll eventually feel you’ve reached a plateau and need to move up to the bigger stuff.

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