According to a survey conducted by the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, men and women have different training habits. Men begin workouts at a mean age of 29 whereas women move themselves when they hit 35. Almost 35% of men workout with a spotter, buddy, or a partner whereas only 19% of women work- out with a partner. The last point is not that much of a surprise, as women tend to use lighter weights which require not much assistance.
Women tend to get more accurate information when it comes to training as they get it from the club’s employees or personal trainers, whereas men get their information from friends, the internet, or books. Moreover, men are more personalized when it comes to strength training and are more likely to build a regimen customized for their needs.
Although women and men have different habits when it comes to training, there are almost equal instances of shoulder injury in the two. The most common types of injuries sustained by both the genders are:
- Inflammation which stands at 79%
- Muscle strain which stands at 58%
- Tendinitis which stands at 24%
The only major area where men and women have different injuries is the lower body, where women are twice more likely to get injured compared to men. Thus, females are more likely to get a diligent workout plan compared to men.
Coming towards the benefits of strength training, it must be said that it is one of the best ways to get women motivated and excited towards weight training. The benefits of strength training include:
1 Improved Health
Aerobic exercises may pack a lot of health benefits, but in the recent past, researchers have uncovered facts related to strength training that are almost the same or sometimes even more profound than aerobic regimens. Strength training results in a reduction in blood pressure, lower heart rates, increased glucose tolerance, and improved cholesterol profiles. One study showed a significant decrease in fat after a 25-week course of resistance training in both women and men.
But here’s the twist; women in the study had a larger percentage of fat loss in the abdominal area then men, which showed that they gained more benefits. This is a major benefit since after menopause, women store more amounts of fat in the abdominal region and at a higher rate, which balloons their risk of diseases.
2 Preservation of function
Aging, as everyone knows, is linked with a number of diseases and conditions. After hitting 50 years, a person loses strength at a rate of 12% per decade, whereas muscle atrophy reaches a rate of 6% per decade with greater loss in strength muscle fibers. A study of women who were all above the age of 70 showed that almost 74% were unable to lift just 10 pounds. Another showed that when these women got out of their chairs, they utilized almost 100% of their muscle fibers. Thus, strength training is vital for these women which results in a documented gain of more than 30% strength as well as an increase in muscle mass within just 2 weeks of initiation. This means that two decades worth of functional loss can be averted within just 2 months of strength training.
It must also be noted that aerobic exercises alone cannot reverse all age-related disorders. A study that compared 70-year-old strength-trained individuals to 28-year-olds showed that the 70-year-old group had cross-sectional areas similar to 28-year-olds. Thus, weight training drastically improves flexibility as well as muscle strength in women that help them retain their functions.
3 Bone mass
Osteoporosis is a worldwide concern, especially for post-menopausal women. Risk factors that enhance osteoporosis include low estrogen levels, menopause, age, race, low calcium levels, body weight and smoking. Women are particularly vulnerable to bone loss during the first decade of menopause as they can experience 15 to 30 percent loss in bone mass. Fitness professionals are therefore very careful to point out this fact to their clients, and moreover, to this day studies have only shown inhibition in the rate of osteoporosis and not a complete shutdown.
Increased strength is positively related to bone density as strength exercises have the benefit of adding bone mass to the body and therefore should be carried out throughout one’s life. This benefit results in a reduced risk of fracture to the spine, hip, or wrist in the event of a fall. The importance of these exercises was documented in a study which compared women who did strength exercises on machines and those who used free weights.
The women who used free weights showed increased bone mineral density in the spinal and hip region. The strength training protocol that resulted in such a change had 3 – 4 sets of a 6 – 10 rep exercises performed 2 days a week. Moreover, the protocol was also compatible with multi-joint exercises.
4 Weight Control
Most human beings, male or female, perform exercises for the sole purpose of weight loss; this is one of the reasons as to why cardio rooms are always packed. If people could be educated in terms of caloric expenditure during strength training exercises, they would never look back towards any other regimen. Moderate exercises like walking or group exercise classes have a metabolic expenditure of 5 – 7 calories a minute for an average woman. Moderate exercises have an expenditure of 6 – 8 calories per minute which is more or less the same as before.
This, in turn, means that aerobic exercises have the same efficiency for more intensity. Moreover, with moderate aerobic activity, the slow twitch muscle fibers are utilized which means that as soon as the activity stops, the metabolism rate returns to a normal pace. Weight or strength training, on the other hand, recruits fast-twitch muscle fibers which ensure that the metabolic rate remains high longer, which results in a replacement to the muscle’s glycogen stores.
The results are increased fat oxidation and caloric expenditure, not only during but also after exercise. A study subjected to women showed that 90 minutes of strength training had a 4 percent increase in metabolic rate that was sustained not just during the 90 minutes, but until the next morning. During 16 weeks of the strength training in older women, oxidation of fat increased by 63 percent while post-exercise oxidation reached 93%.
Apart from controlling weight, strength training can also increase lean mass in women. Maintaining this lean mass is vital to women for weight control as well as preserving body functions since the metabolic rate is related to fat-free mass. Muscle mass accounts for almost 22% of the metabolism rate. On average, 9 weeks of weight training in beginners increased the lean mass by 2 pounds and decreased fat by 4 pounds. As the metabolic rate increased during the regimen, the rate of fat loss increased. Women who performed strength training for 12 weeks and ate a
low-calorie diet had the most advantage. On the contrary, women who ate the same diet but were on aerobic regimens lost their lean masses and experienced a decrease in metabolic activity.
5 Psychological plus
Strength training in women is related with a number of benefits for both the physical part of the body as well as the mental one. A negative image of one’s self is often the cause to eating and dieting disorders. A study for a 12 week training regimen showed that:
- 97% indicated that they felt more fit and healthier,
- 51% indicated that they had improved their body image,
- 85% indicated that their attitudes improved towards themselves and they had higher self-esteem as well as confidence.
These results were particularly interesting as none of the participants lost any body fat even though they gained lean mass and strength. All types of exercises tend to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression. A report in the New England Journal showed that exercise was as effective in reducing depression as some medications. Reducing stress is a useful part of weight control since it inhibits the release of hormones like cortisol, which increase insulin production, which in turn causes hunger by lowering the blood pressure.
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