Despite the positive impact that lifting weights can have on your body and mind, research on strength training trends in the US shows that only one in five women train with weights at least twice per week.
Let’s get one thing straight: You need strength training in your life.
Not convinced? Here are three reasons why.
Working on the gym floor first, and as an online coach now, I’ve seen girls and women steer clear of barbells because “the weights are too heavy for me”. I’ve seen them use nothing but the cardio machines because “what’s the point of lifting weights? I’m not very strong”. I’ve even had clients who didn’t exercise at all before meeting me, because they’d been made to believe that they could never be fit.
This is one of the fitness myths I’m most passionate about dispelling because, quite honestly, it pisses me off.
You can be fit. You can be strong. You can be powerful.
And the best thing is, I’m not spouting motivational quotes. We have plenty of scientific and anecdotal evidence to support this.
If you’re still sceptical about your ability to build strength, check out these 3 reasons why you most certainly CAN get strong AF.
Reason #1: Men and Women Gain Muscle and Strength at Similar Rates
On average, men tend to be stronger and look bigger than women. But do they gain more muscle and strength than women through training?
The answer is…
If you analyse the over 70 studies done to compare the rate at which men and women can increase their muscle and strength over time, you’ll find out that women can gain as much muscle and strength as men – and at a similar rate, too! – when they follow a strength training program consistently.
The only difference seems to be that men start with more muscle and strength as their baseline.
As a woman, you may have naturally less muscle mass and strength to start with, but you have just as much to gain! Which is great news, because gaining muscle and strength is exactly what you train for.
Reason #2: You Can Recover Faster and Do More Reps at the Same Relative Intensity
There aren’t a lot of training differences between men and women, so you can follow a similar workout program as a man, and get awesome results.
However, it’s also true that women aren’t “small men”.
For example, as a woman, you may have faster recovery capabilities, so you can bounce back more quickly from a set or an entire training session than a man can.
Not only that: If you and one of your male friends challenged each other to see who could do more reps with 80% of the max weight you can both lift… you’d likely be the winner!
Unfortunately, there isn’t as much research on female athletes as we’d like, so we don’t know what the reason for this is yet.
One theory is that women tend to be smaller, so blood can travel faster to the working muscles, and provide the nutrients they need to keep working, quicker.
Another is that women’s muscles tend to contain a higher proportion of Type 1 fibres, a type of muscle cell that has greater endurance than others.
Regardless of the cause, it’s certainly an advantage not to be sniffed at.
Reason #3: Oestrogen Protects Against Muscle Damage
One of the main female sex hormones alongside progesterone, oestrogen seems to give you some sweet advantages in training.
For one, it looks like oestrogen has a protective effect against training-induced muscle damage. A little muscle damage can contribute to your results, but too much will have a negative impact on your recovery.
You actually grow stronger when you’re resting after a workout session, so higher protection from muscle damage during this time is a one-way ticket to better results.
Another advantage seems to be that oestrogen has muscle-building properties and may enhance your response to strength training.
If you ask me, these all sound like more reasons to never miss a workout again!
Now you know that:
You can gain as much muscle and strength as a man if you’re consistent with your strength training.
You can recover from training pretty quickly and you have the endurance to push yourself harder than you’d believe in every set.
Oestrogen is lending you a hand in getting stronger and reducing muscle damage.
So, no more ultralight dumbbells because “you can’t be strong”.
No more doubting yourself.
No more holding yourself back.
It’s time to get strong AF.