10 Overlooked Reasons Why Every Woman Should Strength Train

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why every woman should strength trainLose fat and get sexy. The end.

While that’s what most sources say why women should strength train, there are additional (perhaps better) benefits women can reap from weight training. Sure, you’ll see below how it can help you lose fat and tone up, but, you’ll also see how strength training can help you build a better brain (huh?), better bones, better boobs (say what?), sleep better, and basically improve every aspect of your life while making you a better human.

It’s a tall order, but I’m ready to prove it using a combination of science and real world experience. Let’s start with a lesser known strength training benefit.

1. Strength training may improve your cognition.

A 2014 study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society [1] had a group of individuals between 55-85 with mild cognitive impairment perform two strength training workouts per week for six months. Trainees began with weights that were 80% of their maximum and were increased as they got stronger.

Dr. Mavros observed an improvement in cognitive function was related to the strength gains and the beneficial effects they observed led them to recommend strength training to all. Furthermore, MRI scans revealed areas of the brain increased in size among participants.

Another study [2] demonstrated the memory-boosting benefits from a two-day-per-week strength training regimen in older adults stating, “The greater the gains in strength, the greater the improvement in cognitive function observed.” This study also concluded that strength training is the “only exercise modality known to significantly increase muscle mass and strength, so it’s not interchangeable with aerobic prescriptions.”

While more research is needed, the possibility of improved cognition makes strength training that much more appealing.

Who doesn’t want a better brain?

2. Strength training may reduce your chance of early death.

Researchers surveyed the exercise habits of people 65 and older and tracked them for 15 years. Less than 10 percent strength trained and in that period nearly a third of participants died. Those that strength trained were 46 percent less likely to die during the study than everyone else.

This is an observational study [3] so there are several limitations (e.g., what was considered “strength training,” how frequently did they work out, other variables may have contributed to the outcome, etc.), but it does show another potential benefit of strength training.

3. Shatter self-imposed limitations.

I have no scientific proof for this, but do have abundant real world testimonials. Fellow Beautiful Badass Jennifer B. after completing Train to be Awesome declared, “I’ve gained not only strength but tons of confidence. There’s nothing in the world like lifting heavy stuff!” Another woman stated that strength training has given her confidence to attempt things she never would have considered in the past.

Countless others experience positive changes in their confidence and mental fortitude from progressive strength training and, as one incredible woman said, she was impressed at the things her body could do when she just got out of her own way.

Getting stronger in the gym makes you a stronger woman, in every way, outside the gym.

4. Increase bone mineral density.

Strong bones mean you can prevent osteopenia, osteoporosis, and fractures.

A study [4] involving 37 elderly women (approximately 70 years-old) had them perform three strength training sessions per week for 16 weeks demonstrated an increase in bone mineral density and concluded that strength training can help prevent osteoporotic fractures.

If you’re a few decades away from 70 you may wonder how this applies to you. Simple: it’s easier to maintain bone density than to build it. So, engaging in progressive resistance training as young as possible ensures your bones will get, and stay, strong through your older years. You’re better off going into your 70s already strong and capable instead of vowing to do it once you get there.

Strong bones are important for long-term health. You’ll be less likely to experience fractures, which means you’ll have a lower chance of needing corrective surgery, and that means a lower chance of ending up in a nursing home or assisted living facility to recover.

5. Skeletal muscle acts as an endocrine organ.

Dr. Brad Schoenfeld shared an infographic from a study demonstrating how muscles release substances that have a positive effect on organs.

The accompanying study [5] suggests that skeletal muscle releases substances that may inhibit mammary cancer cell growth, among other positive effects. This just adds another incredible benefit to the growing list.

6. Your boobs get a boost.

From better bones to benefiting your boobs; strength training is wonderful.

“But weight lifting will make a woman’s breasts smaller.”

A face-palm is the only appropriate response to such an absurd statement.

Behind your breast tissue are muscles, and when we build those muscles, they get a natural “lift” from growing. Just like lower body exercises make your butt more perky, upper body pressing exercises have the same effect on your pectoral muscles. I’ve heard numerous clients 40 and older, or those who have had children and breast fed, report that strength training “lifted” their breasts. Yay muscle!

7. Better goals.

No, fat loss does not have to be the reason you strength train. No, lifting weights is not about fixing your flaws (because that message is bullshit). No, exercise is not punishment for overeating.

Your time in the weight room or your home gym revolves around a positive, empowering purpose: get stronger and improve your performance. Focus on the things your body can do (not limitations or injuries), and then do more.

The one challenge I pose to every woman: dedicate several months of strength training to the sole purpose of getting stronger. Improve your performance, in some small way, when you repeat a workout. Don’t worry about burning calories, don’t focus on getting sore (this is not an indicator of a “good” workout), don’t think about anything except doing a little better than last time.

Want some performance-based goals to keep you focused? Strive toward performing flawless push-ups or your first bodyweight pull-up. If you want to train primarily with barbells set a goal of deadlifting one-and-a-half times your bodyweight. This way every workout has an empowering purpose: getting closer to those positive, performance-based goals.

8. Dominate tasks of daily living, with ease.

Getting stronger in the gym makes everyday tasks easier to perform. Duh, right?

But this is a fact you can’t appreciate until you experience it for yourself. I’ve had numerous clients who own farms report being able to carry five-gallon water jugs in each hand whereas before, only one was a struggle. They toss hay bales, hoist large bags of feed, and do other things with relative ease that were once challenging, or impossible.

Fellow Beautiful Badass Lisa shared how getting strong in the weight room made her better at real-life stuff.


“Why I lift: a pallet of batteries came in to work today. Each of these boxes weighs about 30lbs. I had to move them onto a cart, then from the cart to the shelf. A few years ago this would’ve left me out of breath and sore in my back and shoulders. These days, I can safely toss them around however I like! No sore back, no achy shoulders, just pure badassery!”

Strength training makes you better at everyday activities, and makes you less prone to injuries.

9. Better sleep quality.

Many individuals report better sleep quality when they strength train regularly, and there’s research [6] to support the relationship between sleep quality and strength training in addition to personal testimonials.

There’s been myriad benefits credited to better sleep, so anything you can do to improve it (e.g., strength training) is worth the effort. (Note: make sure you have a good mattress.)

Some people report trouble falling asleep if they work out too close to bedtime, so keep that in mind if you discover the same thing. You may want to work out earlier in the day.

10. Strength training doesn’t discriminate.

Regardless of how old you are, or any limitations you possess, you can strength train in some manner. It’s a phenomenal tool for becoming the best version of yourself.

Let me show you one of my favorite photos.

strength training doesn't discriminate

That’s my Mom (also a personal trainer) and her long-time client, Weezie. Weezie is in her 90s and is an avid strength trainee. She’s strong, independent, and kicking ass better than many people decades younger than her and credits much of that to her years of training with my Mom.

Whether you’re 18 or 98, you can, and should, strength train.

Don’t think about anything you can’t do due to previous injuries or other limitations; focus only on what you can. Work with what you have, because that’s the only thing you can control.

And, of course, the main reason most people strength train that’s obviously not overlooked …

11. Build a better body.

Maybe a better brain, stronger bones, better sleep, and performance-based goals don’t appeal to you. Perhaps the only thing you care about is looking better naked, or in your favorite pair of jeans.

It’s your body, so do whatever you want with it.

While I encourage every woman to devote several months to focusing exclusively on what her body can do and strive to get stronger and improve her performance via strength training, I understand that some couldn’t care less about the benefits above. “I just wanna get sexy,” they may say.

If you proudly declare that vanity is the only reason you’ll go to the gym, so be it. The great news is that strength training is a phenomenal tool for making that happen. From reducing body fat to creating that “toned” look, it’s the right (and I’d argue the best) tool for the job. Do it consistently and you’ll be rewarded with a leaner, stronger, better looking body. And, perhaps, you’ll begin to appreciate the other benefits along the way.

There are more benefits to be gained from strength training, but you get the idea. There truly is no drawback to strength training, and the 11 reasons above should convince you to start immediately, or continue with your efforts for the rest of your life.

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