While men and women are both from the same species, we are—spoiler alert!—still very different. Physiologically, we respond similarly to strength training: our muscle tissue adapts the same way, our neuromuscular and cardiovascular systems adapt the same way, etc. But our reasons for starting a strength training program might look a little different. Here are 3 reasons women specifically will benefit from getting to work in the weight room.
1. Those Baby-Making Hips
Ah, the miracle of life! Women naturally possess wider pelvic girdles than men, in order to accommodate the width of a baby's head during childbirth. (Even if you've never had a child, your hips are still likely to be wider than a male's. Science.) While it makes us uniquely suited to carry and deliver babies, it also increases the angle from our hips to our knees, placing more stress on the knee joint and putting us at greater risk of injuries like ACL tears. I've written about this Q angle before and how important it is for women to strengthen the muscles that help balance out this exaggerated biomechanical angle. Strengthening our hips and glutes helps minimize the strain on our knees and can help prevent all sorts of injuries—this is especially important for runners, cyclists, or anyone who performs repetitive lower-body movements!
2. Dem Bones!
More good news for ladies: our bones tend to be more brittle! Bone density is related to many factors, including muscle mass, which tends to be higher among men than women. Hormones, puberty, and childhood/early adolescence activity all play a role in how strong our bones are—but since all humans lose muscle and bone density with age, and since women start off with weaker bones to begin with, this contributes to higher rates of osteoporosis in women. There is some actual good news here, though: it's never too late to start strengthening your bones! And strength training is the very best way to do it. Strength training stresses muscles, which exert stress on their tendons, which exert stress on the bones they attach to. This stress is what prompts the bone to begin synthesizing new cells to reinforce itself, so it can withstand even greater forces the next time. And strengthening your bones now can help prevent fractures and breaks later in life—whether you're 14 or 84, your bones can get stronger!
3. Muscle is Expensive
And I'm not talking dollars and cents: I'm talking calories. Muscle tissue is calorically more "expensive" for your body to maintain--it burns more calories at rest, pound for pound, than body fat. Women naturally carry more essential body fat than men do--and we need to, in order to be able to bear children! (Again, miracle of life and all that.) But just because we're biologically predisposed to have more essential body fat, that doesn't mean we don't care about reaching and maintaining a healthy body composition (body fat %). This means even more for athletes and active women, who benefit more from increased muscle mass than increased fat mass. Strength training helps build lean muscle tissue, which, when combined with a good diet, can help lower your body fat percentage. Granted, this is not the be-all-end-all goal of strength and conditioning—but having more muscle mass and less fat mass is, in general, more desirable in terms of athletic performance.
There are SO many reasons why strength training is beneficial for the human body—but there are some specific reasons why it's good for women to get in the weight room. We need strengthening to offset the strain on our knees, to protect our bones from osteoporosis, and to help us achieve healthy body composition. Share this post with anyone you feel would benefit from starting a strength program, and happy training!
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Learn more about Christye and read her other posts | @CoachChristye