By Fitness Lying Down coach & dietitian, Megan Berner
When I attended school at UWL, in my exercise sport science fitness classes, we would talk about creating strength workouts. We would have discussions on what movements should be included, how to coach them, if you’re working with a power athlete do this, if an endurance athlete do this, etc. One day we had a unit titled “Special Populations.” Topics included working with kids and helping them develop motor skills, and transitioning clients from a therapy/rehab setting to a fitness setting. One topic we covered was working with female clients. Can you believe that?! Half of the population was classified as a “special population” according to this unit! This really goes to show how there are misunderstandings and outdated recommendations when it comes to women and strength training. A lot of things we discussed included some old school recommendations that might have been helpful at one point, but we know better now – remember know better, do better, be better! 😉 There are a lot of factors to consider when strength training women, but let’s not make it overly complicated!
Typically when thinking about “strength training”, working out in a gym with barbells and muscle heads with lifting belts comes to mind. However, strength training doesn’t have to look like that! Here at Fitness Lying Down, we take a different approach to strength training. Strength training really boils down to using resistance. This resistance can come in many forms – bands, kettlebells, sandbags, dumbbells, etc. The resistance stimulus to the body is where the magic happens! Strength training has different effects on the body compared to just cardio. Both are important in a healthy lifestyle, but they aren’t the same.
Strength training won’t make you “bulky” as that is often a fear for some women. There are many benefits in different areas such as improving bone density, weight management, hormonal support, and increasing overall self-confidence. Hitting your calcium and vitamin D needs are important for bone health, but strength training is what puts those nutrients to use! If you have weight goals, building muscle can support your metabolism and help your efforts to have body composition changes. Stimulating muscles also releases different hormones and signals communication in the body to support hormonal balance. In a world that often has a critical eye on women’s bodies, feeling strong and maintaining muscle can be a big confidence boost.
I could go on and on! If you want to hear more of what I have to say about strength training for women, check out The Fitness Lying Down Podcast episode where I talk more about women and strength training!