Training the Female Athlete: How to be a Strong Woman
As with any exercise, the routine to which you will adhere is what is “best” for you. In order to achieve the lifelong benefits of resistance training, determine if activities you already enjoy could be adapted to include elements that build strength.
Strength training was long relegated to men and free weights. Much research, however, indicates that women are in dire need of resistance training.
Such training can be accomplished through many fitness formats, but must not be neglected. Becoming stronger physically has been repeatedly linked to improved mental acuity, confidence and body image.
For these reasons alone, women should consider lifting a weight every now and then.
There is, of course, the obvious bodily benefit of actually becoming stronger. This component of fitness was once thought to “bulk up” a woman’s body.
Modern evidence, however, indicates that strong muscle is actually leaner and longer than muscle found in people of lower fitness levels.
Of course, the method of strength training plays a key role in obtaining the desired outcome of sleek and sexy, not big and bulky. With improved muscular strength also comes greater bone density, less body fat, more stamina, and higher resting metabolic rate. All of these desirable outcomes are improved most efficiently through resistance training.
For the soul or spirit, there is a unique benefit in strength training. Many modalities improve strength that also come to full rest at the end of class. This meditative period allows mind, body, and spirit to be focused and connected.
Such a class need not be religious in nature, but those who pray or focus energy often find they have the clarity of mind to concentrate on those to whom they wish to send warm thoughts and prayers.
Taking time to connect to something bigger than oneself is a huge component to mind/body experiences which often also build bodily strength.
So, then, what exactly is strength training? It is known also as resistance training and by definition, it is any exercise or activity that imposes sufficient contraction within a muscle as to cause muscle to become stronger, i.e. build additional fibers. The list below is not exhaustive:
- weight lifting
- body sculpting
- kettle bell training
- calisthenics (as in boot camp)
- circuit training (weight room machines)
- band training
- medicine ball work
- some aqua classes
No matter which you choose, in order to effectively change the shape of your body and your resting metabolism, women need to train for strength at least three times a week for at least 30 minutes each. For many of the above activities, it is best to consult a personal trainer or group fitness instructor in order to ensure your safety. Always secure the permission of your physician before starting a new regimen. Becoming strong in body will surely lead to a strong mind and spirit as well.