Why women shouldn't shy away from strength training

Why aren't more women lifting weights and strength training? It is a common question asked by many fitness professionals who fight to dispel the myth that so many believe. Many women shy away from strength training for fear of "bulking up". Unless you're an extreme genetic outlier, you can't get too bulky; your body won't allow it.

What are the benefits?
Strength training is a key component of overall health and fitness, and it provides an important balance to aerobic workouts. The Mayo Clinic notes the following among the many benefits of strength training:

1. Preserve muscle mass

2. Control weight

3. Reduce risk of osteoporosis

4. Decrease injury risk.

A lot of women are hesitant to join a gym or fitness facility when beginning an exercise program, and so they miss out on these crucial benefits. Adding strength training to your cardio and body weight routines will ensure faster results and more sustainable weight loss. The more muscle you have, the more calories you are going to burn. The beauty of strength training is that you don't have to belong to a gym to include it in your fitness plan. It is relatively easy to create a home gym with multipurpose equipment that can be used for full-body workouts.

How do I do it?

The following list of equipment is a great place to start when building a home gym on a budget. If you want to start small and stick with the least expensive, opt for a few sets of dumbbells, a stability ball and resistance bands (will probably cost around $80 total - approximately £60).

Dumbbells (5-30lb)
Kettlebells (purchase at least one that is higher in weight - 50lb)
Resistance bands (varying resistance)
Stability ball
Medicine ball
Jump rope

The stability ball is an inexpensive and versatile piece of exercise equipment. It can be used in any full-body workout and to assist with stretching. Try a combination of these 10 exercises with a stability ball for your next workout:

1. Wall squats
2. Crunches (regular and side)
3. Low-back hyperextensions
4. Bridges
5. Glute-ham raises
6. Hamstring curl
7. Roll-out
8. Ball pike to plank
9. Push-ups
10. V-ups.

Don't have the resources or desire to purchase equipment? No problem. There are countless ways you can use your body weight to combine strength and cardiovascular training. Give the following circuit a try and feel the difference!

1. Jumping Jacks
2. Push-ups
3. Wall sit
4. Squats
5. High knees
6. Bicycle crunch
7. Bridge (lying hip raises)
8. Tricep dips on chair or couch
9. Mountain climbers
10. Plank.

** Do each exercise for 40 seconds, followed by 20 seconds of rest. Repeat 3-4 times.

Sara Lindburg has a B.S. in Exercise Science and an M.Ed. in Counselling. A 41-year-old wife, mother, and full-time secondary school counsellor, she combines 20-plus years' experience in the fitness and counselling fields and she has found her passion in inspiring other women to be the best version of themselves on her Facebook page
Fit Mom. Her inspiration for writing comes from her 6-year-old son, Cooper, and 8-year-old daughter, Hanna.


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