While many women deprive themselves of the benefits of strength training because of fear of looking too muscular, it’s an important part of a well-rounded exercise program. For women in particular, consistent strength training can help prevent osteoporosis down the road. Here are some facts about strength training to help when adding it to your exercise routine.

Benefits of Strength Training

If you haven’t added strength training to your exercise routine, maybe you just need a little pumping up. And there’s no greater motivator than knowing all that strength training can do for you and your body.

  • Increases your metabolic rate, the rate at which you burn calories
  • Increases bone density
  • Strengthens connective tissue surrounding joints, which helps to prevent injuries
  • Enhances your poise, self-discipline, self-confidence and self-esteem
  • Offsets the typical decrease in muscle mass with aging

Facts About Strength Training

Are you worried about adding bulk? There’s no need to fret. Here are some important facts:

  • The female body has 10-30 times less of the hormone that causes muscular bulk than men.
  • While aerobic exercise is certainly a good choice for burning calories, strength training will also boost your metabolism.
  • Consistent strength training will result in some muscle gain, but it will also result in up to 50 calories burned for each pound of muscle gained.
  • For every two pounds of muscle you might gain, you’ll lose about 3.5 pounds of fat.

Keeping Your Back Healthy

Almost any type of workout uses back muscles and can also make them vulnerable to injury. Without the proper warm-up, cool-down and precautions, strength training can lead to back injury.

  • A 15 minute cardiovascular warm-up and stretching session before strength training is recommended.
  • Increase your weights gradually and for heavy-duty lifting, make sure to wear a back brace or support.
  • When using free weights, always use the proper technique of bending your knees when lifting from a standing position.
  • Whether using free weight or a machine, focus on a smooth motion and avoid sudden and awkward movements.
  • Do a 15 minute cardiovascular cool-down and stretching session.

Also, make sure you strengthen your abdominals and lower back muscles with targeted exercises and stretches, which will help avoid future injury. Finally, you’re totally new to strength training, consult with a personal trainer or exercise specialist for proper use of equipment and technique.

Other Great Bone Strengthening Activities

While strength training is uniquely helpful in preventing bone degeneration, it’s not the only game in town. As with most things in life, variety is critical when working to strengthen your bones, as well as the muscles and ligaments around them. Depending on the exercise, you will reap benefits in several different ways. For example, yoga gives you flexibility, balance and coordination, while running toughens your bones by putting weight and stress on them.

Here are some other good activities to help keep your bones strong:

  • Running
  • Walking
  • Hiking
  • Jump rope
  • Aerobics, step aerobics or dance classes
  • Pilates
  • Yoga
  • Racquet sports