Why do most women avoid strength training? According to the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association, less half of female gym members use strength machines, and only 30 per cent use free weights or barbells for strength training.
Strength training is one of the core pillars of physical activity and has many health benefits for women, yet it is widely ignored by many female exercisers.
“One of the biggest reasons women avoid strength training is because of an old myth that it will make them look like a male bodybuilder,” says Michele Colwell, vice president of personal training with GoodLife Fitness. “Women don’t naturally have enough testosterone for this to happen.”
While physical appearance may differ, the guidelines and benefits of strength training are generally the same for men and women. ParticipACTION’s guidelines recommend that adults should take part in at least two days of strength training activities per week. What’s more, the Ministry of Health Promotion indicates the benefits of strength training are increased bone density, prevention of osteoporosis, improved posture, and increased lean muscle tissue which improves metabolism and reduces body fat.
When it comes to creating a strength training routine, Colwell recommends women always include pushing, pulling, bending and twisting exercises in their routine. For example:
Pushing exercises like chest press or push ups are great for building shoulder, chest and back strength.
Pulling manoeuvres, using a rowing machine or free weights, can create excellent posture and increase overall shoulder and back strength.
Bending movements like the deadlift is one of the best overall functional strength exercises and will work your core and gluteus muscles.
Twisting moves like a medicine ball twist develop oblique muscles on the side of your abs for a toned waistline.
“While we all think that we are creatures of habit, our bodies crave a variety of movements,” says Colwell. “Remember to change up your routine every two to four weeks and never, ever, forget the strength training.”
Push, pull, bend, twist and change it up regularly – a woman’s guide to enjoying the countless benefits of strength.