Uncategorized, Fitness, Exercise, Goals, fat loss

Why Every Women Should Strength Train

I used to be that person at the gym spending hours on the treadmill and elliptical. It wasn’t until I began hanging out with the personal trainers at my gym and learning from them that I started doing more strength training. Which eventually led me down the path to becoming a personal trainer. Something I’ll be forever grateful for!

Strength training has been an amazing addition to my life and an important part of my fitness routine.

I’m an endurance athlete (when I’m not busy having babies).

I love running and triathlon (swimming, biking, running). I completed my first Ironman in May 2018. That’s a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride, and a 26.2 mile run. All back to back with minimal rest between.

It required HOURS of training in all 3 sports (swimming, cycling, running) for months prior to the event, but I still found it really important to also incorporate strength training.

It helped with muscle imbalances and also helped to prevent injury. And, it made me stronger in all 3 sports.

Now, I say all of this, not to brag, but to illustrate that I love cardio! I’m not anti-cardio, but I am anti-only doing cardio.

Should I still do cardio?

Cardio has a place and is also important for your physical, mental, and emotional health. Especially if it’s something you truly enjoy. This article isn’t meant to persuade you to stop doing cardio.

Usually when you do cardio it’s because you love it or you’re trying to improve performance. I don’t recommend you use cardio as a way to lose fat. More on this later…but, first, I want you to think about your fitness goals. Are you trying to lose fat? Are you training for a marathon? Are you looking to just improve your overall health? Figuring out your goal will help you know what you should be doing for the majority of your workouts.

For example, if you’re training for a marathon, you’d obviously need to be running a lot. So maybe you only strength train twice a week. If you’re trying to lose fat, you should spend more time strength training.

There’s been a stigma that women shouldn’t lift weights and if they do, they should only lift lighter weights for lots of reps. Thankfully, this stigma is starting to fade and more women are getting into lifting weights.

However, I think there is still a fear that lifting weights, heavy weights, will make you super big and bulky. You’ll start to look like a bodybuilder, which is something that you might not want!

This is me when I first started lifting weights.

Will you get bulky lifting weights?

In order for a woman to get bulky, she would have to make a real concerted effort towards that. It would take a lot of hard work, effort, and time as well as a very dialed-in nutrition protocol.

It’s much more difficult for a woman to bulk up vs. a man. If you gave a woman and a man the same exact strength program, the man would get more bulky. Men have way more testosterone and have potential for more muscle mass. Males have bigger muscle fibers. They are able to achieve greater strength and speed.

But, I just want to tone!

Toning is a marketing term mostly targeted at women to do higher reps, lower weights. “Toned” really means less fat and more muscle.

Lighter weights and higher reps have a place in a well put together strength program, but if you want more muscle, you need to also lift heavy weights for less reps. The best way to build muscle is through progressive overload. This basically means that you’re gradually increasing the intensity or difficulty of the exercise/workout over time.

For example, if you’re doing a dumbbell chest press (10 reps x3 sets) with 15 dumbbells for a few weeks and you start to realize that you could do several more reps past 10 very easily, it’s time to increase the intensity of this exercise so you can continue to grow muscle.

You can do this by increasing the weights, changing the tempo (slowing down the eccentric), adding a 1/2 rep, or increasing the reps or sets.

Don’t be afraid to lift heavy! It isn’t too masculine. If you can lift heavier weight with good form, you will grow more muscle which will benefit you in more ways than just aesthetically.

When you do cardio as your only form of exercise in order to “tone”, you’ll soon get frustrated at why it isn’t working. When I worked at a gym, for years I would see the same people everyday on the same cardio machines and guess what? Their bodies never changed.

Maybe that wasn’t their goal, but I mention this to illustrate a point. If you’re trying to build muscle and lose fat purely through cardio, it’s not going to work.

Your body is a smart machine and wants to get efficient. As you become more efficient and increase your capacity for cardio, you become more efficient with calories. Which means, you burn less calories during the same exercise over time. If you’re an endurance athlete, this is great news! You want your body to adapt and become efficient so you can build up from running 3 miles to 26.2 miles.

So, what can you do to “tone” if cardio isn’t it? You might have guessed, but one of the answers is STRENGTH TRAINING! ¨̮

Let’s dive into why.

1. Increased Metabolism

Many women feel that their metabolism is slow and that’s why they can’t lose weight.

This is a very nuanced topic that could be a whole article on it’s own. I will say that even if your metabolism is slow, one of the best things about lifting weights is it can increase it. When you add lean muscle mass to your body, it boosts your metabolism.

Lean muscle requires more oxygen to get pumped to it which mean that your body is working harder, which means it’s burning more calories.

To be honest, it isn’t THAT much compared to how much your body burns to stay alive, but it does help.

The process of building muscle requires that you get yourself to the gym, complete intense workouts (progressively overloading), lifting heavier weights over time. This burns calories during, before and after.

In summary, not only are you physically adding lean muscle which will increase your metabolism, but your workouts are also going to burn calories–before, during, and after.

You also need to be sure you’re consuming enough protein in order to build lean muscle mass. Protein is the only macronutrient that can build and maintain your lean muscle mass.

Protein also has the highest thermic effect of food. This means that it takes your body more calories to process, absorb, and digest protein.

The general recommendation is 0.7-1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight or your goal bodyweight. If your goal body weight is 130lbs, that means you should aim for 91-130 grams of protein per day.

So there you have it. One way to boost your metabolism is to do a well designed strength program and get an adequate amount of protein. Doing this will increase your metabolism which will help you burn more fat and maintain your muscle. This will give you a more “toned” and defined look that many are looking for.

2. Aesthetics

I recently took a poll on my instagram asking what fitness goals do you have this summer: fat loss, get stronger, improve performance, or improve nutrition.

67% said fat loss, 25% said get stronger, and 8% said improve nutrition.

Many women say they want to lose weight. There’s nothing wrong with that. You can appreciate and love yourself and your body, but still want to make improvements for your health or any other goals you have.

However, you don’t want to just “lose weight”. You want to look different. You want more defined arms, shoulders, and legs. Maybe bigger glutes. You want to look good in a swimsuit and naked!

You aren’t going to achieve that through cardio and nutrition alone.

Penn state researchers put dieters into 3 groups:

  1. No exercise
  2. Aerobic exercise only
  3. Aerobic and weight training

They all lost around 21 pounds, but the people in group 3 who were lifting weight lost 6 more pounds of fat than those who didn’t lift weights.

Why is this? The lifters lost almost pure body fat while the other groups lost both fat AND muscle.

Other research on dieters who don’t do weight training showed that, on average, 75 percent of their weight loss is from fat, while 25 percent is from muscle.

scale weight vs. fat loss

You can lose scale weight if you only do cardio and change your nutrition, but you’ll end up being “skinny fat”. You need to build lean muscle mass in order to have a more defined body or bigger glutes.

I’ll never forget a client that came to me with her doctor’s recommendation to start lifting weights. She was thin and was at a healthy weight, but her body fat was very high and she had hardly any muscle. She had recently been in a car accident and it really messed her up because she didn’t have much cushioning!

Strength training not only helps you look good, but it also helps prevent injury by strengthening your muscles, tendons, ligaments, and bones.

3. Stronger Bones

Women are more susceptible to osteoporosis as they age. 1 in 3 women over the age of 50 years will experience osteoporotic fractures in their lifetime.

Osteoporosis will decrease your quality of life and it can decrease your lifespan.

I don’t know about you, but when I imagine retirement, I imagine playing with my grandchildren and traveling and being active. I don’t imagine being in pain or in a wheelchair, etc.

Strength training can prevent and even lessen osteoporosis.

Resistance training has been frequently prescribed because it has been consistently shown to be safe and effective for improving muscle mass, size, and strength in middle-aged and older adults, including the frail elderly and even those with a history of fracture.

It enhances bone strength which will drastically improve your quality of life as you age, help prevent disability, and you’ll be less likely to get fractures from falling down, etc.

Not only does resistance training strengthen your bones, it also strengthens your muscle, tendon, and ligaments. Each of these physical changes reduces your risk of injury, so you can continue to enjoy your other recreational activities. (As a runner, this is huge! Many runners get stress fractures.)

Think of strength training as a long-term investment, but the bonus is that you’ll also start to see benefits immediately.

4. Improved Heart Health

Typically we only hear about how cardiovascular exercise improves heart health.

However, recent studies have shown that weight training can be just as effective or even more effective as cardio in promoting heart health.

Researchers from the American College of Cardiology in 2018 determined that strength training was actually better at reducing a person’s risk of heart disease than cardio exercise. Both types of physical activity are necessary for overall health.

“Clinicians should counsel patients to exercise regardless – both activity types were beneficial (weight training and cardio). However, static (weight training) activity appeared more beneficial than dynamic (cardio), and patients who did both types of physical activity fared better than patients who simply increased the level of one type of activity.”

 A 2019 study published in Medicine and Science and Sport and Exercise found that people who did at least 1 hour of strength training per week had 40-70% lower risk of heart attack or stroke compared to those that didn’t.

So again, I’m not saying to stop doing cardio. Both exercises are beneficial for your overall health. I know that many women gravitate more to cardio, so I really want to hammer home the benefits of both. ¨̮

5. Improved Mental and Emotional Health

Saving the best for last.

This one is huge for me. It’s what gets me out of bed in the morning to workout when I just want to keep pressing snooze.

Lifting improves you mental and emotional health. After a hard workout, you feel empowered. You feel confident. You overcame something hard and that carries over to all other aspects of life.

That feeling of accomplishment can help motivate you to stick to your nutrition plan.

The extra boost of confidence can help you perform better at work or with other activites.

You’ll also feel less stressed which will help you sleep better, be more patient with your kiddos, and you’ll feel happier.

I have clients who had a hard time keeping up with their kids or feeling energized. But, after a few months of strength training, they began to feel stronger and more capable of doing the things they wanted. Or the clients who were dealing with low back pain and diastasis recti (mom pooch) for years, but after several weeks of training, they began to feel better. Look better. It’s a huge boost of confidence.

Strength training can make you feel proud, accomplished, and confident. And this will improve your mental and emotional health. There are countless studies out there to prove this, but I don’t need an official study to tell me this. I’ve experienced it first hand with myself and with many of my clients.

When I workout I feel like I have more energy to be a better mom. I’m more patient. I feel stronger and more capable.

Think of each of these strength training sessions as putting a coin in your piggy bank. You can draw upon those coins during hard times and remember just how strong you really are.


I hope this article gave you some insight on why women should lift more weights!

If you enjoyed this article, please share it with a woman who needs it. It would help me out tremendously and itt can others as well.

I want women to feel confident, empowered, and strong. Women are so much stronger than they sometimes give themselves credit for.

As a bonus to making it to the end of this article, I want to give you a freebie. I know so many women who aren’t working out or choosing strength training due to time restraints, equipment availability, and/or they don’t know how to start or what to do.

I created a guide just for women that addresses all of these obstacles. It consists of:

  1. 15 Bodyweight At-Home Workouts for Anyone
  2. 15 Dumbbell At-Home Workouts for Anyone
  3. 9 Pregnancy At-Home Bodyweight Workouts
  4. 9 Pregnancy At-Home Dumbbell Workouts
  5. 10 Postpartum Bodyweight Workouts
  6. 10 Postpartum Dumbbell Workouts
  7. Bonus Nutrition Section

These are all workouts you can do at home with dumbbells or bodyweight. They’re short and effective. They are addressing women in whatever phase of life you’re currently in–pregnant, postpartum, and beyond.

CLICK HERE for the free guide.

And again, please share this link with a friend who could use it. ¨̮

And remember, you’re stronger than you think you are!


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