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Superwomen: Mindset and muscles

Embracing the mindset and muscles for strength and vitality.

Photographs: Pexels

Text: Alexandra Beck

Attention ladies! I know that strength training (weight-lifting) is often considered a men’s fitness regimen, but the benefits are incredible for women, too! Luckily, these days, many more women have become advocates for building and/or maintaining muscle mass, especially as we grow older - and let me tell you, that you really want to change the “I will get bulky” to “I will get stronger and be able to carry my grand-kids” mindset and here are some of the reasons why:

Incorporating 2-3 sessions a week of strength/resistance training will give you these many superpowers:

#1 Increased bone density

Bone density declines as women age, especially following menopause. Lifting weights puts just enough stress on the bones to cause them to strengthen. This can prevent osteoporosis, which mainly affects many women as they age.

#2 Increased muscle mass

Muscle is vital to human movement, so maintaining muscle mass as you age can help prevent injury, improve your range of motion and assist in daily functions like walking up the stairs or carrying your groceries to and from the store. While some women fear that strength training will make them look “bulky,” it won’t cause you to bulk up. It will simply increase muscle mass and improve body composition.

#3 Weight loss help

You may not believe this, but strength training can help with weight loss. Just like cardio workouts, strength training burns calories, which can help you achieve a caloric deficit. Strength training also increases excess post-oxygen consumption (EPOC), which occurs when our body continues to burn excess calories for hours after exercise. How cool is that?

"Incorporating 2-3 sessions a week of strength/resistance training will give you many superpowers."

#4 Improved sleep quality

It has been noticed that those who regularly resistance train experience better, uninterrupted and deep sleep. And we all know how a good night’s sleep can affect our overall well-being - and a good recovery will be increasingly important as we age.

#5 Boosted energy levels

Exercise causes the body to release endorphins, which boost mood and energy. You may feel that you get this from an intense cardio class. However, prolonged cardiovascular exercise can deplete the body’s energy stores. On the other hand, strength training can be completed in 30 to 60 minutes, leaving you with more energy to power through the day.

#6 Better functional strength

Women, like men, need functional strength to accomplish everything that needs to get done in a day. Resistance training improves strength in crucial areas like the core, legs, lower back and upper body, enabling you to get more things done without feeling fatigued. And I mean, it can be day-to-day things, like carrying your toddlers, building up a closet or simply reaching for stuff in the taller part of the closet.

#7 Reduced stress levels

Cardio exercise has been a well-known source of stress relief for AGES. However, research shows that resistance training can also help with stress reduction. It has been shown that women are more likely to experience physical symptoms of stress than men, such as headaches, shoulder aches and digestive issues. Reducing stress will help improve your mental state, overall physical wellness, and confidence.

#8 Confidence

I would like to especially highlight this last one, as it’s not a secret that the media has a lot of ideas as to what a woman’s body should look like, and while many will focus on purely aesthetic goals by giving advice on fad diets and excessive cardio, strength training focuses on functional goals, such as increasing resistance, mobility or speed. This shift in mindset can improve body image in women — plus, aesthetic changes tend to happen with weight training, even if they aren’t the main goal!

So, ladies, take all this with you to your next workout and gain one superpower after another by lifting some heavier weights! I promise you that it will be worth it.

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