Women and Weights

Don Beaver, Fitness Director

Weight training often conjures up images of muscle-bound men and bodybuilders. Well, as this column articulates, as our bodies age, strength training is more essential than ever to remain healthy for both men and women. So let’s explore the benefits of strength training for the ladies this month.

Improves your self-confidence and mental health. First, it’s a known fact that regular physical workouts of any kind boost your endorphins, which serves to reduce stress and anxiety. Second, regular strength training sessions (two to three times per week) can serve to firm your body by replacing fat with muscle mass. Weight training does not necessarily equate with bulk. Leaner muscle definition can be achieved through the use of lighter weights but with more repetitions and sets. On the other hand, muscle mass can be realized via heavier weights with fewer repetitions. Within the first 90 days of your strength training, focus on your appearance and give yourself that boost in self-confidence and mental health as you watch your body transform through a commitment to weight training.

Boosts your metabolism and increases your bone density. Increased muscle mass burns more calories during weight training along with cardio training (treadmills, bicycles, ellipticals, etc.). Maintaining or increasing bone density is vital as our bodies age and become more prone to injuries and/or fractures, such as hips, knees, and shoulders. Studies have shown that a commitment to weight training can significantly increase bone density after just 6 to 24 months of consistent workouts. However, those same studies indicate that if you stop weight training regularly, those same bone density gains will be lost. Establish a routine that incorporates weight training and commit to it as a part of your lifestyle.

It’s all about the “combinations.” If you wish to reduce body weight, remember to not focus on the number on the scales, since muscle weighs more than fat. (1) If losing fat while maintaining muscle mass is your goal, combine a slight caloric deficit in order to fuel recovery after workouts while maintaining a slow, consistent fat loss. (2) If increasing lean muscle is your goal, add more calories on the days of your weight training, but not on your days of rest. (3) As mentioned earlier, combine cardio with your commitment to weight training. Cardio burns fat, but it does not necessarily develop firm tissue—strength training can turn that fat loss into muscle while firming up your body.

Conclusions. It is never too late to incorporate a commitment to exercise at your Anza Athletic Center with its state-of-the-art strength training and cardio equipment, as well as a wide variety of group fitness classes taught by our professionally certified instructors. Second, if you feel you may require some guidance establishing that commitment, reach out to one of our outstanding certified physical fitness trainers Laura McMurtry, PharmD, or Steve McMurtry, CPT.

Enjoy these wonderful benefits by adding weight training to your fitness regimen. After all, it’s not just for the guys anymore.