Mary Arend, a personal trainer and Pilates instructor at ProMedica Wildwood Athletic Club, says that weight training can help women who are hoping to decrease body fat, improve athletic performance and become physically stronger. A regular strength program can reduce risk of injury, back pain, arthritis, heart disease, and diabetes; and improve attitude and fight depression. One of the greatest benefits of weight training for women is the decreased risk of osteoporosis.
“Weight bearing exercise and resistance training are crucial for preventing osteoporosis-related fractures and other injuries,” Arend says. “Not only can weight training improve bone density, it can also improve muscle mass, balance and connective tissue strength — all which decrease the risk of falling and breaking something.”
When you lift weights, it’s the larger bones that benefit the most. Arend shares that the spine, femur, hips, and frame of the body are primarily affected. “Weight lifting typically affects the bones that take the most abuse.”
Starting Your Weight Lifting Routine
If you’ve been inactive for some time, or have never engaged in weight-training exercises, Arend recommends starting small to prevent injury.
Step one: Begin with dumbbells or resistance bands that weigh one – five pounds.
Step two: Engage in 30 minutes of resistance-training activity each day. Try a mix of weight training and higher-impact activities, such as jogging, arc trainer, elliptical, and step aerobics.
Step three: As you grow stronger, increase the amount of weight you lift to maximize bone-building benefits.
Arend shares a few pointers for safe weight lifting:
- Warm up properly to avoid injuries: Working out cold muscles can lead to sprains and tears.
- Use correct form: Stand straight, head over shoulders, over hips, over feet.
- Keep abs tight as though you are being punched in the stomach without holding your breath: This will stabilize your pelvis and keep your knees over toes.
- Don’t do too much too soon: Learn the moves with bodyweight first. When you can do 15 reps with proper form, add weights.
- Work opposing muscles: For every front exercise, perform one for the back of the body. Balance is key.
- Consider Pilates to build stabilizers: Stabilizers are important muscles for the body and help support the bigger muscles, providing you a safer workout.