Weight training is a woman’s BFF, offering benefits way beyond muscle tone
Discover the many benefits of weight training for women.
Want to look great in your favorite outfits, feel strong and confident, and stay that way for the rest of your life? Enter weight training. Done the right way, it’s the proverbial magic bullet—well, almost. It takes a bit of effort, but likely a lot less than you think, and the rewards are worth it.
Healthy muscles hold the key. They naturally grow and get stronger until about age 30, then gradually start to disappear (“atrophy” is the medical term) at the rate of around 3–5 percent per decade among inactive people. Although this holds true for men as well, women, being genetically less muscular to begin with, face a bigger risk.
HEALTH RISKS OF MUSCLE LOSS
Loss of muscle leads to sags, curves in the wrong places, a slowed metabolism, and fat gain, and increases risks for osteoporosis, diabetes, and frailty—the stereotypical little old lady who shuffles along at a snail’s pace. While she might be a funny character in a comedy skit, in real life, she’s headed for a nursing home.
Weight-loss diets pose extra risks, as without weight training, up to half the weight lost may be muscle. This, in turn, slows down metabolic rate and contributes to regain of fat (but not muscle).
The good news is, weight training at any time of life will reverse at least some age-related muscle loss, increase lean muscle tissue, and improve confidence and appearance. Studies of women in their 90s show dramatic improvements in strength and ability to function independently in just a few weeks.
A COMMON MYTH
“Women tend to fear bulking up,” says fitness trainer Brad Schoenfeld, PhD, author of Strong & Sculpted and a leading expert on muscle-building science. But it’s a myth that weight training will build big muscles. “Women just generally don’t have the capacity to bulk up because