It can be so easy to let our fitness slide over summer with the craziness and changes in our schedules but it is so important to realize how little it actually takes to keep your fitness up and maintain your strength. When you think about all of the reasons women need strength training you will be sure to rethink your schedule! All you really need if you put forth your best effort is 30 minutes, 3x a week. If you aren’t motivated on your own, how about checking out a new class, making a workout date with a friend or hiring a personal trainer to meet with you every 2-3 weeks to keep you on track over summer.
One thing that keeps me consistent is treating exercise like any other obligation on my calendar. It has a set time, day, and activity (like a class I teach or run with my husband on Friday’s) and I don’t move it or let other things interfere. That means write in ink, not pencil!
Why it works: For one, people who are successful exercisers make exercise a priority. When you add a workout to your calendar, it becomes as much a part of your day as going to work or an appointment. And when other things come up—especially things that aren’t mandatory—you can pull out your calendar and see that you might have a conflict (your exercise session), so you can turn down or re-schedule other things.
Plus when you write something down you’re more likely to stick with it—if you’re like me, you know how good it feels to cross off an item on your to-do list. It may seem simple or obvious, but give it a try.
If you are short for time, I would say put your time and effort into an interval strength training routine you can do at home.
6 Reasons Women Need Strength Training
1. Burn more calories while you sleep. The more lean muscle mass that you have on your body, the higher your RMR (resting metabolic rate) is. Your RMR is the rate at which you burn calories at rest. So for me, it’s always been more important to count my reps versus counting calories.
2. Build stronger bones. Osteoporosis is a preventable disease that makes your bones porous and brittle and therefore, easier to fracture and break. 80% of Americans with osteoporosis are women. Our bones can become more brittle due to a poor diet of processed foods, tons of sugar, high animal protein and smoking. Low levels of estrogen also lead to bone loss, which is why many women start to lose bone mass at a rapid rate after menopause.The good news is that strength training helps increase bone mass by putting stress on them. Studies have shown post-menopausal women increase their bone mass from weight training. But you don’t have to wait until menopause. Starting earlier can help you increase your peak bone mass, which usually happens between 25 and 30 years of age.
3. Lower your blood sugar levels. Strength training not only helps lower your blood sugar levels after a meal high in sugar or grains but over the long-term it can actually support healthy insulin levels. Work your bigger muscle groups, like glutes, quads and hamstrings, after a big meal or a splurge that’s high in sugar. Do some squats or lunges to help the insulin shuttle blood sugar into stored glycogen.
4. Prevent “real life” injuries. Have you ever bent over to pick up your child and thrown your back out? How about moved a heavy box and tweaked your neck? It happens to the best of us. But, with a balanced and functional training routine you can help prevent injuries like these from happening when you least accept them. Focus on the core and back are two very common areas that we tend to ignore that really need the most attention.
5. More Effective Long Term Fat Loss
Although many people link weightlifting with “bulking up”, when compared against cardiovascular exercise, resistance training comes out on top in the battle to burn calories. The huge advantage to weight training is your body’s ability to burn fat during and after exercise.
After an intense bought of strength training, (interval style too) you continue to consume additional oxygen in the hours and even days that follow. This is known as excess post-exercise oxygen consumption, or EPOC. When your body uses more oxygen, it requires more caloric expenditure and an increased metabolic rate. This is particularly important as we age in order to maintain a healthy weight.
6. Helps Balance Hormones
Women have less testosterone which is important to build and maintain muscle and bone density. Strength training helps to increase testosterone which improves lean muscle and reduces fat. Strength training also helps to balance out stress hormones and increase our endorphins- which means a happier you!