Athlete, Personal Trainer and Youtimer Montana Farrah-Seaton breaks down the many benefits for your mind and body of getting in the weights room.
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That confidence and belief in your abilities: that you can do anything you set your mind to. That is one of the great benefits of strength training.
As well as the obvious physical benefits that it provides, it is the mental and emotional benefits that make strength training an absolute must for women.
Well, for all of us. However, women know all too well that the weights room in the gym can be extremely intimidating.
Picture this: Your first time going to the gym. You're probably feeling a little self conscious, and a lot unsure of what you're doing. It's 6pm, peak time at your local gym. There are plenty of buff dudes throwing iron around, and you're just trying to figure out how the equipment works. It can be a daunting experience for even the most experiences gym-goer.
Let's start gently.
There’s always an option for you to partake in strength work no matter if you’re a novice or an experienced lifter. A one on one personal training session will help you to get confident using the equipment safely. A small group training is another option and might feel more like you - whatever makes you feel comfortable.
One thing to be clear on: Strength training doesn’t have to mean heavy - we’re not here for biceps like Arnie (well, maybe you are. No judgement).
Think more light to moderate weight, high volume to help build a strong, toned physique.
Did you know? Strength training has a lot less impact on the body, in particular the joints, than cardiovascular activities such as running or HIIT.
This means you’ll actually be improving the longevity and performance of your body - as we go further through the stages of life we are able to continue strength training because it isn’t so demanding on the body, and can actually help prevent injuries and conditions such as osteoporosis in later stages of life.
Another benefit? By building more muscle you effectively burn more calories, if that is your intention. Strength training increases your resting metabolic rate as the body is working harder to repair the muscles you’ve worked. Muscles at rest burn more energy than other tissues in the body.
In a study of women aged 35 to 50 years, subject's resting metabolic rate (RMR) and body composition were measured to determine the effect of physical activity. These studies showed that the women who participated in physical activity had “significantly higher” resting metabolic rates as opposed to those that didn’t. They also showed that RMR in the active control was 1,510 kcal/day and 18.9% body fat percentage and 1,443 k/cal and 28.8% in the sedentary control.
So, by building more muscle mass - in particular lean muscle mass - your body is effectively able to burn off more of the fuel or calories you’re consuming, rather than storing it in the form of fat cells within the body. It's one of the most efficacious methods to decrease fat percentage while either maintaining or increasing lean muscle mass.
This is because weight bearing exercises call for much more muscle engagement to protect our body while performing our reps. High volume + more muscle engagement = more calories burned.
As an athlete and personal trainer, I love conditioning, HIIT - anything that gets the blood pumping and works up a serious sweat. But if you want to focus on building lean muscle while decreasing body fat, burn more calories post workout and get a sweat on, then resistance-based training is your answer.
It's going to shape and sculpt your body in all the right ways... um, hello curves! This isn't to say should choose one over the other. A mixture of both strength-based training and cardiovascular exercise has shown to help with longevity and quality of life.
So, don't be scared of the weights room. Get lifting.