The fear expressed by many women that training using free weights would cause them to look “masculine” due to the development of muscle mass is unfounded. The increase in the size of a person’s muscles crucially depends on the amount of anabolic hormones in the bloodstream (e.g. the male sex hormone testosterone). Since a woman’s testosterone level is 20 to 30 times lower than a man’s, she is genetically unable to develop the same physique as a man. The body of a typical female bodybuilder in the media cannot usually be realised naturally – male sex hormones are used here.
Many women do not challenge themselves enough for fear of enormous muscle development – but low weights often do not provide sufficient training stimulus. Women should also push their physical limits with targeted strength training in order to create the greatest possible stimulus for the muscles. Basic exercises with free weights are recommended for both women and men. This does not require hours of training with isolated exercises for each individual muscle. Squats, for example, with a corresponding weight are far superior to “isolated” leg extensions and leg curls and one or two ‘legs, bums and tums’ workouts.
A classic half-truth – endurance training on a treadmill or cross trainer ensures optimised fat burning, but does not necessarily make the female problem zones more attractive. Less fat does not mean that the tissue becomes firmer. The musculature shapes the body. Strength training results in a firmer body and firmer skin. Certain muscle groups (“problem zones”) can also be targeted.
Weight training consumes more energy than most endurance sports. A positive side effect: the body also demands oxygen hours after the training session and thus consumes energy. A crucial advantage over pure moderate-intensity endurance training, where only additional energy is used as long as the activity continues. Increased muscle means that the body burns more energy and therefore more fat – even at rest (each kilogram of pure muscle mass burns an additional 100 kcal per day at rest).
Women in the menopause, in particular, are susceptible to osteoporosis due to falling oestrogen levels. Strength training contributes to an increase in bone density and thus significantly reduces the risk of osteoporosis. The stronger the muscles, the less strain is placed on the bones, ligaments and tendons. Those who build up greater bone density at a young age reduce the risk of developing osteoporosis later in life. However, menopausal and postmenopausal women also stop bone loss through intensive training with weights. What’s more, training of the back and abdominal muscles improves posture and can counteract neck and back pain.
Following intensive strength training, it is important to supply the body with energy. Approximately 60% of the energy supplied to the body after training should therefore come from carbohydrate-rich products to replenish glycogen stores after exercise. If carbohydrates are avoided, you lack the energy for your next training session. In addition to carbohydrates, regular protein intake is also important for muscle building and regeneration. In contrast, fats play a subordinate role.
A six-pack is made in the kitchen and not in the gym! Even thousands of sit-ups every day and the best legs, bums and tums class will not provide the desired success if a layer of fat covers your rigorously trained abdominal muscles.
A flat, toned abdomen cannot be achieved without a low body fat content. It is essential to permanently change your nutrition plan.
Conclusion: Particularly as a woman, there are many reasons to start strength training!