Monday, April 25, 2011

Why Strength Training is Crucial for Women - Part 1

I've been chewing on this for a while and making little notes in my workout journal and I think I'm finally ready to tackle my next series head-on:  Why Strength Training is Crucial for Women.  Now, this is going to be in several parts because I don't want to get long-winded on one post and because Elizabeth has suddenly decided that she is just fine and dandy with an hour nap (even if Mommy is not!).  So I need to write quickly.

Plus, I would love to get your feedback.

So let me begin by saying that the first reason why strength training is crucial for women is because it keeps you strong.

I know...profound, isn't it?

But we have to be strong.  Look at all of your relationships and tasks in your life and count real quick the number of balls you have juggling in the air right now.  How many people are counting on you to carry your weight?  Your significant other?  Your kids?  Your job?  Your church?  Your pets?  Balls!  There they go...  All are relying on you to be at the top of your health, strength, and overall game.

I've let you in on my little addiction to magazines - and after reading the trillionth article on the importance of cardio, I thought I might give this side of the coin it's fair shake.  So humor me, ok?  This is for the average woman - not just those that aim to compete in fitness contests. 

To go back to Scott's theory of why man was created, woman was not created to rest on her laurels either.  We were designed to be out in the fields, growing and harvesting crops.  Constructing domains.  Tending livestock.  Raising kiddos.  Day in and day out.  Now one could only assume that this would take an admirable amount of strength - the same amount that you have been provided with today.

I think strength training gets a bad rep from women because they don't want to look like men.  I, too, was in that same boat at one point.  I was a cardio junkie and did very little strength training...  Until I had kids.  And then I had zero time for my cardio junkie-ness.

I couldn't go on the forever runs like I used to - that my body required to stay at it's current shape - or so I thought.  Now, I had lifted since college, but was totally under the impression that because I wanted to be little, therefore I should lift little weight.  So I ventured for the 5's, 7.5's, 10's...and my weight plateaued. 

A funny thing happened to me in the past six months and I can't remember exactly what spurred it on, but I  got my gumption back and started lifting heavier.  If an exercise called for 12 repetitions, I chose a weight that I could barely get 11...or maybe get started on number 12.  Now, I'm not genetically strong, so I'm talking about 20-25 lb weights here, but still, I was working.  This is when I started seeing results.  Not bulk, but cut.  My arms began to get the definition I wanted.  My rear-end lost a significant amount of giggle.  And I was LOSING mass, not gaining it.  It was so funny how I had lifted light all my life in search of "tone" and here it was with the heavier weights.

As I was getting physically stronger, I felt myself getting mentally stronger.  I began to like who I saw in the mirror again.  I shopped for clothes with more confidence than before. 

Please understand, I still do my cardio, but I don't live by cardio alone anymore.  If I have 30 minutes, then I'm going to lift and work fast to keep my heart rate up (since cardio deals with your heart, that counts!). 

I find myself healthier, with more energy, and in better spirits than before.  Now, this being said, I eat fairly clean (good proteins, fruit and vegetables...chocolate...) and get a good amount of water and sleep.  But I lift three to five days a week and have never felt stronger.

Next:  Why strength training is crucial for your innards...


  1. Hmmm... I strength train 3 days a week, but I think I've been putting on some weight lately. Maybe I need to bump up to a higher weight!

  2. For three weeks I stayed at 195 but was losing inches :) was seeing great progress in my definition in the areas I wanted to...just a heads up...I am cancelling my gym membership and ordering the beachbody program Turbo Jam...feel free to check it out on Youtube. My friend is a beachbody coach so I am going to order it from her... I am ready for something different and I will still be lifting weights while doing the videos. I am excited for something new and cant wait to order it!

  3. I don't have weights or a gym membership... but I do have a Wii fit, and have recently started trying the strength and yoga exercises. And they kick my butt. I think I'm going to try to do more of the strength exercises, because they seem to be more bang for your buck, but we'll see.