If there’s one thing that’s impossible not to notice when you walk into a gym for the first time, it’s the division along gender lines between the cardio area and the weights. Why this separation? Perhaps it’s because social expectations for men and women to look a certain way extend into the fitness arena: While men typically think that to be fitter is to be bigger and buffer, women feel significant pressure to be thin. And when you compare the apparent benefits of strength training to those of a cardio workout, the obvious choice for most women is to focus on the cardio and, in some cases, to avoid strength training altogether. Here are the weight training benefits for women:
Weight training increases resting metabolic rate
While it’s true that you can burn more calories during a high-intensity cardio workout lasting 45 minutes or more than you can during a strength workout of the same duration, women who ignore the benefits of resistance training do so at their peril. Women with a weight-loss goal need to bear in mind that most calories are not burned through exercise; they’re burned in order to power everyday activities as simple as breathing, using your brain and sitting upright in a chair. Regular strength training helps to preserve lean tissue (which includes bone, muscle and everything except fat), and the more lean tissue you have, the higher your resting metabolic rate will be and the more calories you will burn outside of the time you spend at the gym or on your yoga mat. And weight training for women doesn’t usually result in bulky muscles, since muscle size is more closely linked to testosterone levels than the amount of weight training you do.
Weight training = injury prevention and treatment
Another major consideration is the potential for injury. Most cardio exercises, no matter how efficient they may be for burning calories and helping to shed pounds, simply do not provide a balanced workout in terms of muscle groups worked. To use running as an example, many people who run all the time but never lift weights or cross-train find themselves plagued by injury due to strength imbalances between the hamstrings, which do most of the work of propelling the body forward, and the quads, which contribute very little to forward movement. Over time, this weakness in the quads can cause the kneecap to start slipping out of place and pinching the cartilage that covers the end of the femur. This painful “runner’s knee” condition can turn into arthritis if it is not properly treated by – you guessed it – strength training to whip the quads into shape.
Simply put, there’s more to fitness and looking good than how many calories you burn per workout. If you live in the Fort Lauderdale area, local personal trainer Joe Kozma is here to help you carry out a strength training program that will help you meet your fitness goals. For more information, contact us today.