The Truth About Women And Strength Training

By Lavanya

Jun 6, 202420 mins read

The Truth About Women And Strength Training

When it comes to women and working out, there is just so much misinformation out there. For someone coming in new to this, trying to sift through the sheer amount of information to get to the goodies might seem severely daunting.


Which is why, we are here. To cut through the BS and give it to you straight. And today, we shall delve into the world of women and strength training, to see how much of a difference the gender makes. 


It is the unvarnished truth that physiology makes for a marked difference. Women are built differently, their bodies go through many physiological processes through the course of a lifetime and it makes no sense to not address it. 


So let’s see what the main points of importance about women and strength training are:


Muscle gain and increased muscle strength

Quite often, our female clients worry about this.  “Coach, I don’t want to look bulky!”, is something we hear very regularly, especially from beginners. 


But the truth remains that gender differences and physiological differences play a massive role in this. Women will NOT bulk up by lifting weights like their male counterparts do. Female athletes who need to bulk up must put in a phenomenal amount of dedicated work to get bulky. Our muscle size is smaller than that of biological males. Our biological processes are different. But what women can work towards just as well, is increasing muscle strength.


Just by putting in the work - consistently and in gradually increasing weight capacities - women can and do see an increase in their muscle strength. And yes, in muscle gain too - but not enough to make you go green and go up several dress sizes!


Menstrual cycle 

Fair or not, our menstrual cycle features massively in all aspects of our life as women. Strength training is no different. The different phases of our cycle have varying impact on our energy and residual strength levels. By adapting our routine to our cycle and adjusting our training module accordingly can reap great benefits in terms of strength gains. 


During the menstrual phase, energy levels will generally be low, in line with the low levels of progesterone and oestrogen in our body. These are the days when you want to curl up in bed when the alarm goes off. Now is not the time to ignore your body’s request for you to take it easy and push through. Gentle movement through walks and low mobility exercises can still keep you moving, without taxing your energy stores. 


In the follicular phase, our estrogen levels slowly start to go up. This translates into more energy and strength. This is the best time to go for that PR you have been eyeing for a while. Push hard in class when Coach calls you and your body will respond. This is the best time to build muscle and get definition. This continues right up to the ovulation, on day 14 of your cycle. So go for gold! 


In the luteal phase, things start to go downward. Our progesterone levels start to rise, leading to fatigue and sagging energy levels. This is the body preparing itself for the oncoming menstrual phase. Listen to the dip in energy levels and switch to more moderate work, with higher focus on rest and recovery. 


Bone health

The

Sadly, bone density takes a hit with age. This is true for men and women. But for women, this exponentially increases with menopause. Lack of strength training in this crucial time has an impact later on in life, when our balance gets affected. This is why there are increased instances of senior citizens taking a tumble or worse, breaking bones. 


By maintaining our bone density, women can ward off problems like osteoporosis and osteopenia. Strength training makes you do load-baring exercises and this is a game changer in terms of health maintenance and injury prevention. When you work on strengthening your muscles and juicing your joints, you have a knock-on effect on overall stability - thereby, helping reduce risk of injury.


Fat Loss and lean body mass

One of the largest reasons for women to choose weight training is weight loss. It is a proven fact that strength training aids in fat loss and increase of lean body mass. Muscle weighs more than fat and this causes many to assume that by putting on muscle, they will increase in weight. 


This is not true. Yes, muscle weighs more than fat. But when you build muscle, plenty of other good things happen - your resting metabolic rate goes up, which means even at rest, our bodies are burning calories! This leads to fat loss and increase in lean body mass.


Overall health improvement

The

Strength training means a boost in confidence, in mental clarity, in better insulin sensitivity, cardiovascular health and better all-round good health. This is true for everyone. Focusing on your building your strength has other positives too - such as boosting confidence and improving self-esteem, which in turn, can be vastly empowering. 


Where the difference lies, for us as women, is that fluctuations in the hormonal levels can cause a myriad of changes in our bodies. This can cause anything from changing our fluid balance to increased fatigue, to varying energy levels to impacting motivation. The best way to combat these changes is to listen to our bodies and tailoring our training accordingly. By being flexible with our training intensities and ensuring our sleep, nutrition and hydration are all on point. This way, we can aid our bodies in the best way and reap the benefits from our well-rounded strength training regimen. 


Women’s bodies are wonderful machines, capable of miracles. The best thing we can do to keep that machine running smoothly is to work with it and care for it in the best possible way. 


If you are a woman new to the world of strength training and would like to talk to one of our women coaching specialists, please get in touch with us today and we will help you reach your goals.