Today I want to reach out to possibly millions of those women through this article who have been misinformed or rather, have misinterpreted the role of weight training in their lives. Weight training conventionally is believed by some women to be something exclusively meant for men. I wish to keep this short and precise for you to understand so I am not emphasising much on how we evolved and what early men did centuries back. But we do know that they were super efficient in terms of their strength based performances, endurance and functionality. I must add to this that they had amazing tactical skills and coming precisely to the point- they had a very good body composition! Women were physically as good as men!
Talk about today and you will see more of unfit people around than fit. Obesity and diabetes are in trending today. While most men as a remedy to the epidemic of weight gain and improving their physiques go to gyms and do weight training, women (not all) shy away from weight training. Buy why? The king of all reasons is- Weight training makes a woman bulky and muscular!!??? Now before I contradict this, let me also tell you that yes there are bulky women who have packed on crazy deal of muscles to their frames. Ladies who compete for different divisions of a bodybuilding contest and some recreational bodybuilders are on high doses of synthetic drugs (male hormones), have trained, eaten a certain way and supplemented a certain way for years to look like that because they take up bodybuilding as a sport. Weight training caters to just more than the sport of bodybuilding. Bodybuilding at competitive levels compared to a fitness lifestyle is totally different.
Split the terms- body building. Bodybuilding simply means building your body. Now the question- why to build your body? Because age breaks your body down. With growing age men and women (women majorly) lose a lot of muscle mass. Weight training is a magical tool to keep building/maintaining new muscle tissues.
Question - Will it make you bulky?; Answer - No, it won't!
Not really. The most important hormone responsible for triggering muscle growth in the human body is the male hormone, testosterone. Women have just 1/10 th of testosterone compared to men. So physiologically it is not possible for women to put on as much muscle mass as men would. Let’s go back centuries and think about the early men’s lifestyle. Back then men and women had to hunt for food, carry those dead heavy animals on their shoulders, carry massive wooden logs from places to places and lived in caves made out of heavy rock stones. They were strong, they were not obese/overweight and they were never a victim to lifestyle related diseases. They rather had a very good body composition. Although whatever they did was for survival, what they did was weight train! Definitely, a lesson to learn from our early ancestors. The necessity to survive made them highly functional and performance efficient. Of course, they never knew what they did was benefiting them something more than just food and shelter. Today, a lot of ladies talk about a toned body. The quest to achieve a toned body has led them to do endless hours of cardio, zumba and ten other forms of aerobic activities. They are great for your heart health and burning calories. But think for a while, is that actually giving you a toned physique or a loose one? Overuse of aerobic activities cause you to lose a lot of muscle mass (and fat mass) and leaves your skin homeless That toned look you are talking about doesn’t happen without you putting in efforts to train your muscle and getting stronger. Your muscle tissues should push against your skin for you to have a toned body.
How exactly is cardio/aerobic activity different that weight training?
Cardiovascular activities are a great way to train your heart muscle. Yes, the heart is a muscle technically. The more efficient your heart gets at pumping blood, the better is your endurance. Cardio is a great way to burn calories. Is that enough for you to lose fat? NO! The overall calorie deficit is what helps you burn fat. So if you are somebody who is not on a calorie counted diet and doing endless hours of cardio, you are most likely to have a very bad body composition. An ideal body composition should target less of fat percentage and more of muscle mass. Having a good muscle mass ensures you have a good metabolism, which means your body burns way more calories at rest. This is exactly the benefit that weight training offers. Your body uses the food better as a fuel, keeps you lean and in shape and prevents any lifestyle related diseases like sarcopenia (age-related degeneration), osteoporosis, insulin resistance etc.
Let me address some of these benefits briefly.
Sarcopenia is an epidemic that spreads out like fire as we age. Studies have shown that post the 40 (starting mid-30s) we start to lose muscle at the rate of 3-4% per decade on an average. Every decade, the percentage of muscle loss nearly doubles. This is precisely the reason we see old men and women with a lot of wrinkled/lose skin, buckled joints and hunched back. Their skeletal structure doesn’t have enough muscle to support it and hence the deformation that happens. Weight training helps build new muscle tissues and reduces the risk of sarcopenia to a great extent. You sure want to look rugged and sexy even in your 50s and 60s.
Osteoporosis is a disease related to the bones where in the bones start to lose their mineral density. When this happens, our body gets susceptible to fractures and falls too often. Our structure is called a musculoskeletal structure because our skeletal system is supported by a strong muscular system. Think about the huge infrastructures and buildings that you see around. It has iron, bricks, cement and other moulding materials. Our bones are iron rods and muscles (and skin) are the outer covering. You think a building can withstand load for long without bricks, cement and moulding materials? No! The iron rods will buckle and break soon. Same is the case with our body. The better muscle mass we have, the better our skeletal health is. Insulin resistance is your body’s inefficiency to use insulin properly to manage the blood glucose levels. Insulin is a hormone that plays a major role in transporting nutrients to our body and controls the blood glucose from rising beyond allowed levels. Impaired body composition (too little muscle mass and too much fat mass) makes your body insulin resistant or at least puts you on the road to develop insulin resistance. This can further lead to diabetes and other metabolic disorders. Weight training helps multiply muscle tissues in our body. As body composition improves, our body uses insulin much efficiently and improves the insulin sensitivity. Less insulin is secreted as a response to blood glucose elevation as it is also the property of muscles to take up glucose available readily in the bloodstream to be used as a fuel for energy.
All these benefits and a host of other benefits are the perks of weight training and a healthy lifestyle. I see no valid reason except laziness and complacency for women to shy away from weight training. I encourage all the women to take it up as a lifestyle and relish the wonders that weight training is capable of doing. You sure want to perform like your 20s and 30s when you are in your 60s and 70s. Oh wait, and you definitely want to be asked “Oh my God! Are you really 60 years old?”.
Article contributed by - Melvin (CoFounder - GetSetGo Fitness)
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