Many of my female clients were worried about using any sort of weight in their exercise programmes. Women tend to concentrate on cardio vascular fitness, avoiding weights altogether, and I think there are many reasons for this.
For example, in a gym, the free weight areas in particular can seem to be a male only environment – but this is only a perception, not the reality.
Some women also believe that cardio vascular exercise is the best way to burn fat, and tone up, and it certainly contributes to the removal of body fat thereby revealing muscle. But I’d always advise using some weights, and including body weight training for a balanced and effective programme.
There can be also be a concern that if men develop bulky muscles by using weights, then women will too. But research has shown that, unlike men, women are unlikely to gain significant muscle size from using weights in their training. The main reason is that women have significantly less testosterone than men, and this hormone is a key factor in the growth of muscle tissue (hypertrophy). Indeed, even a man wanting to gain muscle mass may need to combine long periods of time using heavy weights with a very rigorous diet.
So with some of the myths dispelled, here are my top 5 reasons to include Weights/Bodyweight Exercises in your Programme :
- Lose Body Fat – As the amount of lean muscle tissue in your body increases so does your basal metabolic rate.
- Decreased Risk of Osteoporosis – Research has found that using weights in training contributes to an increase in overall bone density, and that this coupled with an adequate amount of dietary calcium is a potent defence against osteoporosis.
- Improved Athletic Performance – Strength training has been proven to assist athletic ability. For example, golfers can significantly improve their driving power; Cyclists are able to continue for longer with less fatigue and skiers can also improve technique and build the strength in bone, and connective tissues necessary to avoid injury.
- Reduced Risk of Injury – As mentioned previously, strength training not only promotes stronger bones, and muscles but also connective tissue such as ligaments & tendons – this is vital for stability at the joints, thereby preventing injury.
- A way to fight Depression – Studies have shown that strength training can have a significant beneficial effect on the symptoms of clinical depression. Women who incorporate elements of strength training into their exercise programmes report feeling more confident and have greater self-esteem.
So there are some really compelling aesthetic, physiological and psychological reasons for using weights in your training sessions. It also adds more interest, challenge and fun