Why Woman Should Start Lifting (Heavy) Weights from a Calgary based Nutritionist

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Public Service Announcement to my ladies - you will NOT get “bulky" from strength or resistance training. This is a myth and concern that I hear from woman and its just not something that we need to be worried about. The truth is that it is very difficult to build muscle and it takes long-term sustained and consistent training combined with the right nutrition to increase skeletal muscle, and even when we do, we don’t have enough testosterone available required to build the same type of muscle mass as men.

Of course, all forms of exercise are beneficial and great for your health and we know that the best form of exercise if the one that you will actually do and enjoy. However, in my humble opinion, adding some form of resistance training to your routing can lead to massive changes. Here are a few reasons I am such a fan:

BODY COMPOSITION: Strength training increases muscle tissue, thereby decreases fat tissue, resulting in a leaner “toned” body.

METABOLIC RATE AND WEIGHT LOSS: Muscle burns more energy at rest compared to fat which can aid in weight loss (if that is a goal of yours). Remember that if you are adding muscle to your frame, you will also be adding pounds since it is more dense and weighs more than fat, which is why I don’t love using the scale to track success.

SARCOPENIA AND LONG-TERM HEALTH: We lose 3-5% of your muscle mass per decade after age 30, so its really important to build your muscle while you are younger and work to maintain it as you age (its easier to build it now vs. trying to catch-up later). There is an association between age-related muscle wasting and falls and fractures amongst those 65+ which can significantly increase risk of death.

BRAIN HEALTH: In a study conducted among 100 adults between 55-86, those who did strength training twice per week showed improved cognitive function after 18 months vs. those who did not. It appeared to “thicken the grey matter in the part of the brain that is affected by Alzeimer’s disease”.

OSTEOPOROSIS: Bone mass peaks in the third decade of life and then starts to decline. Weight bearing exercise has been shown to decrease risk of osteoporosis as we age (particularly for women).

BLOOD SUGAR REGULATION: Exercise and muscle contractions increase the rate of glucose uptake from the blood stream (your muscles are the primary disposal site for glucose in the blood) which promotes insulin sensitivity and regulates blood sugar levels.

CONFIDENCE: When you lift weights you feel strong, and when you feel strong you feel confident, and when you feel confident you feel sexy. I’m not sure there is a study on this, but this has been my experience.

My advice is to find a trainer who can teach you how to use the equipment in your gym with the correct technique so that you are not intimidated and you don’t get hurt. Happy lifting!

Sam XO

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