When I was approached by Trained Physio & Fitness to write a blog about Women & Strength training I couldn’t say no, as this is something I am fiercely passionate about and don’t think many coaches or health professionals address this topic enough.
A little something about me!
I have been working in the fitness industry for over 5 years now specialising in Women’s strength training. I have 3 daughters as well as working full time managing my business Intrepidus Strength , I understand how women especially mums can put their health on the back burner. However I am breaking the norm and teaching my clients that their health is important too!
Although the fitness landscape has changed A LOT over the last 5 years there is still a number of lingering myths that surround women who strength train. Today I’m going to debunk 3 of these myths and tell you why I believe strength training for women isn’t just beneficial – it’s necessary!!
MYTH #1 – LIFTING WEIGHTS WILL MAKE YOU BULKY
Many women come to me with a similar goal, they want a lean and toned physique. But when I ask them to prioritise their training goals, increasing muscle mass is usually at the bottom of the list. Women are conditioned to think that increased muscle mass will result in them looking like a male bodybuilder, but this is far from the truth. In fact achieving a “Lean, Toned” physique usually involves increasing muscle mass.
So what does this mean?
To achieve your goal physique women need to have a training plan which will increase their performance and have them progressively lifting more weight over time. Increased muscle mass will result in a more “toned” look and the easiest way to achieve this is by getting stronger. By adding more weight to the bar over time will result in a gain of lean muscle mass, an increased metabolism due to additional muscle and the “toned” physique that many women are seeking.
MYTH #2 – LIFTING WEIGHTS WILL RESULT IN INJURY
If I had a dollar for every time someone said to me “But lifting heavy will hurt my back”. Lifting weights with bad technique is what can cause an injury, poorly managed pre existing injuries can cause injury, training while fatigued can cause injury, increasing your weight too soon can cause injury. There are so many different factors that can cause injury; lifting heavy with CORRECT form is NOT one of them.
Lifting weights when done in a safe and effective manner will enhance your quality of life and reduce your chances of injury but first there are a number of things you should consider:
- Find an experienced personal trainer, strength coach, exercise physiologist or Physiotherapist who can help to guide you in terms of exercise selection and program design. Someone who can work with you to perfect your form and tailor movements to suit your individual body type, levers and work around pre existing injuries.
- An exercise pre-screen is essential to ensure that you have adequate strength and range of motion to perform compound exercises such as squats, bench and deadlifts safely. Lifting weights when performed in accordance with your individual capabilities and kept within the limitations of your current strength and mobility will give you a stronger body that will make day to day activities a lot easier.
- An exercise program that is designed in accordance with the results of your exercise pre-screen, which is balanced and progresses in a sensible manner is essential. This means regressing movements and modifying a program as and when needed to account for niggles and/or lifestyle factors that can influence recovery and performance in the gym.
- Patience when progressing and adding weight to the bar is fundamental. Taking time to learn the movements properly instead of rushing to add weight to the bar can make all the difference.
All of the above points will help to safeguard you from injury, however we understand that injuries will happen so it is crucial the find a Physiotherapist who supports your goals. This is why I have partnered up with Trained Physio & Fitness, as their core belief is “Change Happens Through Movement & Movement Heals”. They promote an active form of recovery, which will still enable you to continue training with a modified approach working towards your end goal.
MYTH #3 – LIFTING WEIGHTS WILL CAUSE INCONTINENCE/PROLAPSE
Many women are scared into believing that lifting weights will cause incontinence and/or prolapse post pregnancy, however that is not the case. A failure to screen female clients properly and adjust a program according to their needs is a major contributor.
Woman who suffer from any core or pelvic floor dysfunctions must be assessed by a women’s health physio. I have dealt with a number of female clients who have improved the strength of their pelvic floor and prolapse through lifting weights and ensuring they use proper breathing techniques, cues and appropriate exercise selection. Many women can be embarrassed to discuss women’s health issues with their personal trainer, however it is absolutely essential that this information is disclosed so women can be referred to a Women’s Health Physio for assessment if required. In most cases this does not mean stopping your exercise program altogether, but making modifications which will allow you to continue lifting weights in a way that is right for your body and help strengthen the pelvic floor tissues and not causes any further damage.
The Benefits outweigh the Risk
I hope this blog has exposed some of the myths and reassure women that lifting weights is not only SAFE but will contribute to helping you build a stronger more athletic body that is more adept to deal with the demands of our day to day life.
Written by: Kellie Socratous – Founder of Intrepidus Strength & Conditioning Woman’s Training Studio Maylands