Weight Training for Women
Misconceptions about weight training—often based on unproven fears of becoming too
muscular—can keep women from pushing their fitness levels.
That’s unfortunate because weight training provides several important health benefits
for women. Most important, it helps them maintain a healthy weight as they approach
and pass menopause. It also can help them avoid osteoporosis and prevent back problems. If
you’ve never lifted weights, consider working with a trainer for your first few sessions.
Misconception. Women who lift weights develop huge muscles.
Reality. Not necessarily. For women who follow a sensible weight-training program, the result
will be a trim, healthy look, not bulging muscles.
This is because women naturally develop much less muscle mass than do men. Women have
fewer muscle cells, particularly in their arms and shoulders. When either a woman
or man works out, muscle cells grow larger but don’t multiply.
Misconception. Weight training takes a lot of time.
Reality. You can take as much or as little time as you like. It is recommended that you do 8
to 12 repetitions per exercise at least twice per week. With a warm-up and stretching,
each session should take only 30 minutes to 45 minutes.
Once you’ve passed the beginner stage, you’ll get stronger only if you lift heavier
weights and do more repetitions. Once you’ve gotten as strong, fit, and toned as you
want, you can maintain your fitness level by continuing to lift the same amount of
Fat vs. muscle
Misconception. The scale doesn’t lie.
Reality. The scale can mislead you. Muscle is more dense than fat. With a weight-training
program, combined with a good diet and aerobic exercise, you may lose inches from
your waist, thighs, and other trouble spots without losing any pounds. You may even
gain a few pounds but feel and look healthier.
When you stop
Misconception. If a woman stops working out, the muscle will turn into fat.
Reality. Muscle and fat are 2 separate tissues. If you stop working out, your muscle may waste
away. Meanwhile, more fat may be stored in already existing fat cells. But one isn’t
changed into the other. Even if you stop working out, you can build muscle again whenever
you restart weight training.