Weight and Strength Training for Women at Home - The Myths, Facts and How to Start
Many women in the UK make great attempts at staying fit. That could be some type of fitness class, going for a walk or a jog, or working out at home. Trying to fit it into a busy schedule, is probably the hardest thing to achieve. One option is to consider including some type of weight or strength training.
A great deal of females avoid considering any form of weight or strength training. In fact, it is fair to say, that most women decide to stick with cardio programs, and general fitness routines. Mainly that is down to quite a few myths, that are rumoured about lifting weights. There are however a growing number of ladies who do use weight training.
Dealing with the Weight Lifting Myths
The Testosterone Myth - When ladies consider lifting weights, especially for the first time, there are fears of having to build up a level of testosterone, that is far above what women normally have. Rumours abound, that even women bodybuilders have a hard time bulking up. As result, there is this unfounded myth that many women resort to taking steroids or testosterone supplements. That is simply not true, and there is simply never a need to do that.
Fat into Muscle Myth - Another myth worth knowing about is "turning fat into muscle." Muscle cells and fat cells are completely different types of cells. It is impossible to convert fat cells into muscle cells. By working the muscles you can increase the size and strength of those. By doing cardio style exercise, you can burn fat. They are quite different things.
Combining Cardio Exercise and Lifting Weights
Now the reality is that if you combine both cardio and some form of weight lifting, you will burn fat and add a little muscle at the same time. Overall that will in effect create a toning and definition effect for your body. So as you can see it would appear to some ladies, who start some form of fitness, that they are in fact turning fat into muscle.
That is not happening as if either form of exercise was done by itself, then they would either burn fat, or build muscle. Combing both forms of exercise is a very good idea to lose weight, and create a toned look.
What Types of Weights Are Available?
Men and women can use the same types of weight lifting equipment. Women who are primarily looking to tone their bodies, will opt for weights such as barbells, dumbbells and resistance bands. Those looking to bulk up, or add more muscle will then move up to barbells, kettle bells and through to bench style weight lifting.
These are a very popular choice for many women, especially those wanting a gentle introduction to the world of weight training.
These are not weights as such. However, they provide a tough enough level of resistance, and one that will certainly work the muscles.
These are a very good option for women who want to focus more on toning the arms, and not necessarily building a great deal of muscle.
This is probably the most popular choice of weights for many women. They are normally sold in a set of two. That is to allow both arms to be worked at the same time.
It is always worth remembering, to work both arms, as that will provide a nice equilibrium to the body.
These are very good for toning the arms, and especially the biceps and triceps. Improving those muscles helps deal with bingo wings etc. They also are a very good way of keeping that arms fully toned, and increasing the strength of the hands, wrists, forearms, biceps, triceps and shoulders.
This type of bell moves the weight lifting up to the next level. These are more of a total weight workout. They help develop functional strength and power.
They are also really good for improving endurance, core stability and balance and for increasing calorie burn. These are often referred to as "The total workout tool"
You can buy these individually, but they are more commonly bought in a set of different weights.
If and when you are ready to then further increase your weight lifting, barbells are the next level up. A barbell is simply a long bar. You add weights to each end and then you can perform different sets of lifting exercises. These are very popular in gyms.
You can start with light weights, and then slowly add weights as your muscles develop. There are many different exercises that can be done with this type of weight lifting equipment. The best thing about using these is their adaptability. By owning a full set of weights, you can gradually increase the weight, and as a result your strength, over the months and years.
Weight Lifting for Female Beginners
As contradictory as it may seem, weight lifting doesn’t necessarily mean lifting heavy weights. It is better to think of this method of fitness training, as resistance training. That is because this weight training can be done with anything that imposes an increasing demand on your muscles.
Many females when starting out, use resistance bands instead of weights. In many cases they are just as effective as a set of weights. You can also buy them in varying levels of resistance, and they are of course a great deal cheaper. The beauty of them is you can take them with you without adding much weight to your luggage – an important consideration when travelling by air today.
Once they have used this form of resistance, many women do decide to take it up a level. At that stage, they may consider lifting weights such as dumbbells, weight bands on the wrists and ankles, and ultimately to lifting heavier weights on a bench.
Weight Lifting for Women for Weight Loss
Many females simply want to tone up or lose some weight. They may in fact only want to tone up certain parts of their body. Burning off fat all over your body is normally done through some form of cardio training. However by increasing the muscle size in particular parts of the body, strength training that targets those particular muscles, will make it look as if you just toned up.
Doing weights on their own does not really help a great deal with weight loss. This type of exercise will build strength, and will build muscle, but that is not anything to do with burning off fat or calories.
Doing both normal cardio exercise such as walking, running, treadmills, exercise bikes, rowing machines etc will burn calories and help you lose weight. By adding weight training to the cardio, will then help improve toning and also give you great muscle and body definition.
Weight Training for Older Ladies
Weight training is often classed, as the type of exercise reserved only for the young and fit. That is in fact utter nonsense. It is important to keep fit and strong throughout your life and possibly even more so as you age. No matter what your age, it is never too late to start.
It has been estimated that individuals who live a sedentary or relaxed lifestyle, can expect to lose up to 15% of their muscle mass between the ages 30 and 80. The reality of life is that many older ladies may not care that much about having a toned and stunning body. What they should give serious consideration to is that, reduced muscle function in old age, is not something that should be taken quite so lightly.
Lifting weights as you age becomes more important because it keeps your strength up and prevents Sarcopenia, or age related muscle loss. Strength training can quite literally give you the ability to keep on living. In fact, elderly individuals who lift weights report of benefits such as feeling stronger and healthier, or even having the ability to pick up their grandchildren.
In one study, ladies aged 65 and over experienced an improvement in endurance and leg strength. The huge majority of participants were able to walk up to 40% further without resting, by the time they were finishing the 12-week weight-training program.
Weight Training for Women Over 40
At the age of around 40 you are still at an age where your body is still active. As yet, you have probably not reached the stage where the aches and pains have set in. You can see from the above information that taking it easy, or avoiding fitness training, will eventually catch up on you.
Simply by doing some basic weight lifting, you can help improve muscle strength, bone strength and keep you fit and toned. We would recommend starting off with some basic resistance training to get the muscles working. When you have got through that, then we would recommend starting to use either dumbbells or kettle bells, to further increase the overall strength of the body.
Weight Training for Women Over 50
This age group is often referred to as the middle aged or beyond. I am sure that many ladies have asked the question, “Am I too old to start lifting weights?” For many ladies in this age bracket, the idea of lifting weights can be intimidating or downright scary.
As we age, our bodies tend to become stiff and joints start to creak. That is simply a fact of growing older. What I think is more important to understand, is that at this age group, there is also a loss of bone density and muscle mass. The tendons can become brittle, synovial fluid dries up and sinews grow weak.
As this inevitable downward spiral begins, many older adults prefer to rest their bodies since it hurts to move around all the time. That is easy to understand, but it would also be a mistake. So although you don't have the body that you once had, it is still a very good idea, to work it out and build up the strength.