There are so many myths about  Strength Training for Women. In This article, we learn the amazing benefits of strength training for women. We will also dipel some of the most common myths.

What is Strength Training?

Strength Training For Women

Physical Strength  is a form of Physical Fitness.

Other forms of fitness include muscular endurance, cardiovascular / Aerobic Fitness, Body Composition (Fat Mass vs Lean Body Mass), Power, Flexibility, Speed etc.

Strength is the ability of a muscle to produce force.

Training is the preparation done for a future outcome/event.

Therefore, Strength Training is the preparation done today that will result in our muscles getting stronger and becoming capable of producing more force in the future.

Strength Training involves the exercises that are intended to make us stronger. Not all forms of physical activity can to make you stronger.

In order to get stronger, we have to train with resistance. Usually this is done by lifting weights.

Beginners can start training by using only bodyweight exercises but you will find that bodyweight exercises are no longer sufficient. Once our strength levels surpass our own bodyweight we can add in external resistance in the form of weights.

Strength training has so many benefits that it should be done by almost everyone. In fact, by improving strength, you can improve other forms of fitness as well.

In spite of all these benefits, even today, there are so many myths out there that prevent women from strength training.

7 Biggest Myths about Strength Training for Women

Female Lifting Weights Strength Training

Myth #1: Strength Training Makes You Bulky

This is one of the biggest myths that prevents women from lifting weights. How many men do you see that look bulky because they lift weights. Probably not many.

Even some of the most dedicated lifters, including myself don’t look big or bulky. This is especially true if you don’t take steroids or other performance-enhancing drugs. For a natural athlete, it is very difficult to look bulky.

The possibility of women looking too bulky is even lower because they lack adequate hormone levels that help build muscle.

One of the primary anabolic hormones produced by the body is testosterone. Men produce about 10-20+ times more testosterone than women.

In reality, strength training can actually help you look leaner.

If you improve your body composition by losing some fat and building muscle, you will look much leaner, even at the same bodyweight. This is because muscle mass is more dense than fat mass.

Myth #2: Strength Training is Dangerous

Nearly all things in life have a risk and a reward. You should always assess the costs and benefit before making a decision.

That being said, any form of physical activity carries a risk. However, if you look at the research, strength training appears to be quite safe.

In fact, strength sports such as powerlifting and weightlifting are far safer than other sports.

If you’re not a competitive athlete, your risk of injury is even lower. You can minimize risks of injury by using proper technique, having a coach and not lifting weight that are too heavy for your current strength levels.

Myth #3: Women Should Not Lift Heavy

How much weight is considered to be heavy? It depends. ‘Heavy is a relative term. A weight that is heavy for someone may not be heavy for another.

In general, any weight that you can lift for a maximum of 5-6 reps can be considered as ‘Heavy’. In terms of intensity, this would be about 80% of your 1 rep max.

Most women are afraid to lift heavy and focus instead on doing higher reps. Many women are also afraid of lifting anything over 5 pound dumbbells.

We all start somewhere but once you’re ready to move on the next level, you should.

Myth #4 You HAVE to Lift Heavy

While lifting heavy has it’s benefits, not everyone needs to lift heavy in order to get strong.

In fact, if your goal is to build muscle, it is more efficient to train in the 8-12 rep range than it is to lift heavier with lower reps.

Moderate weights allow you to get a lot more volume (Sets and Reps) in a shorter time than lifting heavy does.

I wouldn’t recommend lifting too light either. Anything over 12-15 reps starts to become more about endurance than strength.

Myth #5 Strength Training Makes You Less Flexible/Mobile

This is not entirely true. In fact, the top reason why we become inflexible is because of a sedentary lifestyle. With strength training, especially if you’re performing compound movements such as squats, deadlifts, lunges etc., you will be more flexible than most people.

Flexibility and mobility are not always about your actual muscles being tight. Rather, it’s about your body getting comfortable in a particular range of motion.

For example, when you squat deep frequently, your body gets used to squatting deep. If you don’t squat deep regularly, your body will resist going into that range of motion.

Myth #6 You MUST Perform Certain Exercises

There are so many exercises in strength training. Exercises can be divided into 2 categories: Compound and Isolation Exercises.

Compound Exercises are those exercises which use multiple muscles to move a weight. These include: Squats, Bench Press, Deadlifts, Overhead Press, Pull-Ups, Chin-Ups, Push-ups etc.

For example,In addition to working your quadriceps (Thighs), the squat also uses your hamstrings, back, glutes and other upper body muscles to hold the weight in position.

Isolation Exercises focus on one muscle at a time. For example, if you wanted to workout your calves, you could do something like a calf raise machine.

Compound exercises are considered to be more effective and efficient. They allow you to load more weight. Since you’re working multiple muscle groups at the same time, they are also more efficient.

That being said, for most people, any exercise that puts tension on the muscle through a range of motion can be effective at building strength.

You can choose the exercises based on the equipment available and personal preferences.

Myth #7 Muscle Converts to Fat When You Stop Working Out

This is one of the biggest myths that hold people from strength training. I’ve been hearing this ever since I started in fitness.

Even as I was getting started, on my own fitness journey, some people, including trainers discouraged me from lifting weights.

Even though I didn’t know much about fitness at that time, I knew that physiologically not possible.

Muscle Tissue and Adipose Tissue are 2 completely separate things.

I think the reason why people are confused is that people tend to regain weight rapidly after they stop working out.

They also lose muscle mass because of not working out. This makes them think that their muscle has turned to fat.

9 Amazing Benefits of Strength Training for Women

#1 Fat Loss & Improved Body composition

Body composition refers to the ratio of Fat to Lean Body Mass in your body.

Fat mass is the total fat in your body including subcutaneous fat (fat under your skin), visceral fat (fat around your organs) and intramuscular fat (fat inside your muscles). Fat is also found in your organs and your bones.

Fat-Free Mass or Lean Body Mass is everything in the body that is not fat. This includes muscle, organs, skin, hair, blood, water etc. Out of all these, the only component we can alter through training is Muscle Mass.

Improvements in body composition is a form of physical fitness. Strength Training is the only form of training that can improve body composition to a significant degree.

Even if you gain 10 pounds of muscle and lose 10 pounds of fat, your physique will look significantly different.

Even if you don’t gain muscle mass, simply maintaining muscle mass as we age is important. As we age, we lose muscle mass over time, especially if we don’t use them.

Maintaining muscle mass wile losing weight is also extremely important. Our goal should always be Fat Loss and NOT Weight Loss.

Learn more about Fat Loss vs Weight Loss

#2 Improved Posture

Sedentary Lifestyle

A lot of people have poor posture which results in aches and pains. A lot of this is because of the increasingly sedentary lifestyles we have developed over the years.

Muscle and Strength Levels are adaptations to our lifestyle. If you don’t use it, you lose it. With strength training, you can make the muscles that help with your posture, stronger. This includes your back, core, shoulders etc. When these muscles are stronger, you will find that it is much easier to maintain good posture.

#3 Increased Confidence

Strength training is a great confidence booster. First of all, if you’re physically fit, you are more capable of performing certain tasks better than an unfit person does.

Secondly, if you’re serious about your training, your physical appearance will also improve. This is also a great confidence booster.

And finally, the biggest reason why strength training boosts confidence is because it teaches you a great system to set goals and achieve them.

For example, if your goal is to add 10 pounds to your bench press, you can develop a training plan to get to the goal.

This method of goal setting can be applied to nearly all areas of life. Success builds on success and how you become successful at one thing is how you become successful at everything else.

#4 Functional Strength

Strength training makes you more capable at real life situations where physical strength is needed. Whether it’s carrying babies, luggage or even moving furniture. Strength training can make those tasks seem easier.

In addition to everyday tasks, if we’re ever in difficult situations or under any sort of physical danger, being stronger is an advantage.

#5 Boosts Metabolism

Your metabolism or Metabolic Rate determines how many calories your body burns in a day. If you strength train, regularly, your body will require more calories and this will allow you to eat more food. If you’re losing weight, having a faster metabolism is a huge advantage.

Strength training has the ability to boost your metabolic rate in 3 ways:

  1. Calories burned through exercise. Strength training can burn a lot of calories while you workout. This is especially true if you perform a lot of the compound movements such as squats and deadlifts.
  2. Calories burned at rest. The great thing about Training with weights is that it can elevate your metabolic rate at rest. This means that even when you’re done working out, your body continues to burn extra calories to recover from the training. This is known as Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC)
  3. More muscle mass. Muscle mass is more metabolically active than fat tissue. This means that your body has to expend more energy to maintain muscle mass. The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn.
    That being said, the number of calories burned because of having more muscle mass is not as high as some people think. The number is estimated to be about 6 calories per pound of muscle.
    If you gain 20 pounds of muscle, you will burn about 120 extra calories in a day as a result.

Learm mor about the 3 Proven Ways to Boost Metabolism

#6 Improves all forms of Physical Fitness

Physical strength is a form of physical fitness. The great thing about strength training is that it can help improve other forms of fitness as well. For Example, if you get stronger, your body composition, muscular endurance, flexibility, cardiovascular fitness, balance etc will also improve.

It’s usually not the other way around. Getting better at cardio or becoming more flexible will not make you stronger.

#7 Sports Performance

You many have noticed in recent years that more athletes than ever are hitting the gym to get better at their sport. Strength training is no longer limted to just strength sports such as powerlifting, Olympic weightlifting, strongman, Crossfit. Whether it’s football, tennis, Basketball, Cricket or even golf. Nearly any athlete will get better at their sport by getting stronger.

#8 Reduced Risk of Osteoporosis & Improved Bone Density

Osteoporosis is a disease in which the bones become very weak. This affects both men and women however, post-menopausal women are more prone to it. It is the most common reason for a broken bone among the elderly

Strength training can improve bone density and help make your bones resistant to damage. This is especially important as we age.

The rate of elderly deaths due to fractures is quite high. Having stronger bones is crucial for longevity.

#9 Injury Prevention

Strength training can help prevent everyday injuries because strong muscles, bones and joints are more resistant to damage. I’ve personally heard stories of people who have survived potentially car accidents because they were physically strong.

A stronger person is simply more durable.

Strength Training for Women – Tip to Get Started

Determine Your Goals

We all have different goals. It’s important to be clear about your own goals and what you want to achieve through your training. This will allow us to create a plan to achieve those goals.
If we don’t have goals, then the workouts we do are simply a form of exercise and NOT Training.Find the right training and nutrition program

Now that we know our goals, we should have a training and nutrition plan to reach those goals, If your goal is to add 20 pounds to you squat, your program will be different than if your primary goal was to lose 20 pounds of body weight.
You can also have multiple goals at the same time but in my experience as a coach, it is better if you have a primary goal and a secondary goal(s).

Find the Right Training Environment

You may already have a gym membership but it is important that to make sure that it is right for you. Your training environment matters.
To get the best results possible, you need to surround yourself with people who have similar goals and are supportive of your goals. Tis will really help keep you motivated in the long-term.
On the other hand, if you were in an environment where people are not supportive, this can discourage you.
In my experience, most commercial gyms do not have a supportive environment.

Select the Best Exercises

Different Types of Fitness

This depends on your goals, preferences, equipment available and experience level.

If you can perform the big, compound exercises, that would be ideal. If you can’t you can substitute with a different exercise. You can use barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells, cables, machines and even bodyweight exercises.

Best Exercises for Strength Training:

Lower Body

Squats (Back squat, Front Squat, Goblet Squats etc.)

Deadlifts (Conventional, Sumo, Stiff Legged Deadlifts, Romanian Deadlifts etc.)

Leg Press

Hamstring Curls

Calf Raises

Lunges

Hip Thrusts

Upper body

Bench Press (Barbell, Dumbbells, Incline, decline etc.)

Overhead Press (Standing, Seated, Barbell& Dumbbell

Pull-Ups & Chin-Ups

Rows (Barbell, Dumbbell, Cable, machines etc.)

Bicep Curl Variations

Tricep extention variations

Lateral raises for shoulders

Rear Delt (Shoulder exercises)

Shrugs

You can also use any other exercise of your choice.

Start with Light Weights

I highly Recommend Reading Starting Strength for Beginners

If you’re a beginner, you can start by suing very light weights. It is important to learn the correct technique first. You can learn the correct technique by hiring a coach, reading books such as Starting Strength and by watching videos on YouTube.

As you get better and gain more confidence, you can add more weight.

Summary

Physical Strength is a form od Physical Fitness.

Strength training is includes those exercises done to make ourselves stronger in the future.

Strength Training for Women Myths

Myth #1: Strength Training Makes You Bulky

Myth #2: Strength Training is Dangerous

Myth #3: Women Should Not Lift Heavy

Myth #4 You HAVE to Lift Heavy

Myth #5 Strength Training Makes You Less Flexible/Mobile

Myth #6 You MUST Perform Certain Exercises

Myth #7 Muscle Converts to Fat When You Stop Working Out

Benefits of Strength Training For Women

#1 Fat Loss & Improved Body composition

#2 Improved Posture

#3 Increased Confidence

#4 Functional Strength

#5 Boosts Metabolism

#6 Improves all forms of Physical Fitness

#7 Sports Performance

#8 Reduced Risk of Osteoporosis & Improved Bone Density

#9 Injury Prevention

Tips to get started with Strength Training

Determine Your Goals

Find the Right Training Environment

Select the Best Exercises

Start with Light Weights

Additional Resources

Check out my Kindle Book, which contains a full Strength Training Program.

My Book: Weight Loss With Strength Training

I hope you found this useful! Let me know your thoughts-Anand