Wanting to get fitter and stronger, but worried you’ll bulk up if you lift weights? Weight training includes any muscle strengthening or resistance activity – whether that’s with hand weights, weight machines, resistance bands or bodyweight. Doing regular muscle strengthening activities, like weight training, on at least two days each week has a number of health benefits for both men and women. And ladies, it turns out, transforming into the Hulk isn’t a likely outcome.
Here are 5 reasons women should be doing regular weight training:
1. Stop muscle wastage in its tracks
After you turn 30, you naturally begin to lose muscle mass by about 1% each year, with inactive adults losing up to 3-8% annually. Over time, this can lead to decreased strength and stability, higher risk of osteoporosis and weight gain.
Muscle strengthening activities can not only prevent muscle mass loss, but increase muscle mass after loss has occurred.
2. Build and preserve your bone density
You might know that the 206 bones in your body need calcium and vitamin D to keep them strong, but did you know about the importance of weight-bearing exercise for your bones?
Osteoporosis Australia recommends looking after your bones by regularly engaging in muscle strengthening activities that become more challenging over time.
3. Prevent falls
‘Having a fall’ might not be an issue you think you have to worry about too much for a few decades yet, but the groundwork for stability when you’re older needs to be laid early. Regular exercise, including muscle strengthening activities, is a proven way to prevent debilitating falls as you age.
4. Speed up your metabolism
Increasing muscle mass also boosts your resting metabolism. This means you burn more kilojoules (energy) throughout the day, even when you’re not physically active, which can help with achieving and maintaining a healthy weight.
5. Manage diabetes or reduce your risk
Increases in your lean muscle mass and metabolism through muscle strengthening activities can have important benefits for people with type 2 diabetes or people at risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Diabetes Australia explains that a higher metabolism, due to increased lean muscle mass, helps your body keep blood glucose levels in check, while a lower fat-to-muscle ratio reduces the amount of insulin you need in your body.
And you’re sure I won’t beef up?
Exercise will affect the body shape of people differently depending on their body type, diet and lifestyle. Getting a body builder’s physique requires a strict regimen with hours in the gym. Women’s hormones naturally limit the amount of muscle it’s possible to gain, so women who are adding some weights to their weekly workout routine shouldn’t worry about bulking up unless that’s their desired goal.
Speak with your GP before adding new exercise to your routine, and if you’re not sure where to start, find an Accredited Exercise Physiologist who can help you add strength training into your routine.
Where to start
Try one of these strength training workouts you can do at home: