I’m grateful that encouraging women to strength train is no longer a new trend or uncommon suggestion; it’s a well established activity that more women than ever are already doing.
But just because it’s not a ground-breaking recommendation to encourage women to lift weights, it still bears repeating that there are numerous benefits to focusing specifically on getting stronger.
The reason is simple – many women still strength train (or work out in general) for the sole purpose of losing fat, burning calories, and trying to transform their physical appearance. And I think there’s a better way: focus on getting stronger, and nothing else.
Before we get to the four reasons women should train for strength, it’s important to note that there are myriad ways to get stronger. Getting stronger doesn’t mean you must focus on nothing but the powerlifts (squats, deadlifts, and bench press) and increasing your one rep maximum. You can use any tool or combination thereof such as free weights, kettlebells, odd objects, or even just your bodyweight. You can also use any rep range or combinations such as heavy singles, sets of five, or even sets of 10 to 20 reps.
Bottom line: there are a lot of different ways to get stronger. The important thing is that you do better when possible and beat your previous workouts. Strength comes in many different forms, so use whatever tools are available to you and embrace all the different rep ranges, if you’d like.
Now let’s get to the four reasons women should train for strength …
1. It’s Empowering
Don’t brush this one off, because it’s important. Just glance at the cover of popular women’s magazines or listen to the media talk about actresses or other prominent women. Practically everything is about how we look and we’re flooded with tips, tricks, and gimmicks to help use lose fat and look more appealing.
But training for strength is empowering.
It’ll show you what your body is capable of doing. It allows you to unleash your true potential. And as opposed to trying to burn as many calories as possible and finish each workout completely exhausted, getting stronger is a way of becoming MORE, not less.
2. It’s Measurable
Cardio machines that display the amount of calories you burn have been shown to be inaccurate. But as long as you record your workouts in a journal of some sort, you’ll know how much you’ve improved over a period of time, and you can’t fudge those numbers.
Perhaps this week you’re performing goblet squats with a 30 pound dumbbell and doing 10 reps. A month or so from now you may be using a 50 pound dumbbell and squatting 10 reps. That’s a measurable increase that shows you how much stronger you’ve gotten.
And being able to see this consistent increase is a great way to stay motivated to keep training month after month. That brings us to number three …
3. It’s Motivating
Some people use their workouts as a form of punishment. Maybe they (you?) go to the gym for a hard workout because you feel obligated to “work off” last night’s dinner and dessert (refer to this article: Damage Control – What to Do When You Over Indulge).
But training for strength is certainly not punishment.
Each time you return to the gym your mission is clear – do just a little better than last time. And each week or month you can look through your training journal and see how much stronger you’ve gotten.
And you’re always left wondering, “I can do this – what else can I do?!” That is motivating in a way marathon workouts with the sole purpose of achieving as much fatigue as possible can’t match.
4. It’s Proven to Work
It’s my goal to encourage women to focus on, and be proud of, what their bodies can do and not to focus so much on how it looks. But who am I kidding? That doesn’t change the fact that we all want to be confident and like how we look, so as a result some people do want to shed excess body fat or build some muscle.
Getting stronger is a proven way to get the body transforming results you want.
Want to lose fat and “tone up”? Want to completely change your body’s shape and appearance? Get strong … and then get stronger.
If your workouts have been stale lately or you’ve been focusing on burning as much fat as possible, change your focus to increasing your strength exclusively.
Ready to train for strength but not sure where to start?
Refer to this tutorial for some sample free weight workouts and workout programs. Choose one and remember to focus on nothing but getting stronger and improving your performance when possible.
Or if you prefer bodyweight workouts you can do anywhere, check out the Beautiful Badass Bodyweight Workout Guide.
And if you’re currently following a workout program, make your sole focus each time you repeat a workout to beat your previous workout’s performance. Do an extra rep. Increase the weight a bit. Rest less between sets. Just do a little better than before.
No matter what program or equipment you use, make getting stronger in some way your only goal, and I believe you’ll be ecstatic with the results.