The Incredible Benefits Of Strength Training For Women
Strength training has been rapidly gaining popularity as a training style for women in recent years due to its powerful feel-good factor and wide-ranging benefits for both body and mind.
If you’re new to strength training, it’s normal to feel nervous about stepping into a gym, using new pieces of equipment or trying exercises you’re unfamiliar with, but rest assured, you’ll soon discover why weight training is such a popular way to work out. Here are some of the incredible benefits of strength training for women, and why you should consider adding this training style to your fitness routine.
What is strength training and who can do it?
Strength training is a broad term that encompasses a range of different workout formats and equipment, but the phrase generally refers to exercises and workouts that are designed to build the strength, size and endurance of your muscles.
Strength training workouts can use just your body weight, free weights such as dumbbells, barbells, kettlebells and medicine balls, or gym machines. This makes it an incredibly versatile training style that can be adapted to suit any fitness level, space or available equipment. While it’s a great style for gym-based training, we know so many women in the Sweat Community also love strength training at home!
According to Harvard Health, U.S. exercise guidelines recommend adults include strength training exercises for all major muscle groups in their routine twice a week, highlighting how strength-building exercises are great for anyone at any stage of life.
Although evidence has linked strength exercises to optimal health and wellbeing, over 80% of adults don’t report meeting those exercise guidelines. If strength training isn’t currently part of your exercise routine, we’re pretty sure that learning about the benefits will provide all the motivation you need to give it a try!
The benefits of strength training for women
Lifting can help to improve your body composition and maintain a healthy weight
When paired with good nutrition, research has shown strength training can increase your lean muscle mass and reduce your fat mass. Having some body fat is essential for optimal health, especially for female hormonal health and fertility, but strength training is a great way to improve your body composition, and Harvard Health says it can also improve glucose metabolism and better physical functioning.
Lifting is great for overall health and longevity
Over 30 years of research has shown that muscle-strengthening exercise can improve your cardiometabolic health, physical functioning and ability to perform daily movements, not to mention a 21% lower risk of all-cause mortality when compared to no exercise.
Another 2022 meta-analysis found strength training was associated with a 10–17% reduced risk of all-cause mortality, cardiovascular disease (CVD), cancer and diabetes.
The best news? You don’t need to spend hours on strength training to start reaping these benefits (unless you love it, which so many women do!). A 2018 study found lifting weights for less than an hour a week may reduce your risk for a heart attack or stroke by 40-70%.
Improve your bone health
As well as increased muscle strength, Harvard Health explains that multiple studies have shown how beneficial strength training can be for bone health. It can help to build bone, slow the decline of bone density and reduce your risk of osteoporosis as you age - which women are more likely to be affected by!
The stress put on your bones during strength training essentially activates bone-forming cells, leading to stronger, denser bones.
It’s health benefits such as these that make trainer Katie Martin such a fan of strength training.
“I focus on goals such as ageing gracefully without illness, maintaining healthy muscles and minimising my risk of arthritis and osteoporosis,” she says.
Boost your physical performance
This one is a bit of a no-brainer, but you can expect to see your overall athletic performance increase with a consistent strength training routine. Strength training not only builds muscular strength, power and endurance, but according to the American Cancer Society, it also helps to improve your balance, stability, posture, joint flexibility and mind-body connection.
It can improve your mood, cognitive function and self-esteem
While it might be cardio that has traditionally been championed for its feel-good endorphins (aka runner’s high), strength training is starting to take the spotlight for its positive effects on mental health.
A 2018 meta-analysis found that strength training significantly reduced depressive symptoms in adults, regardless of their health status, differences in resistance training volumes, or any strength improvements.
According to 2012 research, resistance training can also improve your cognitive abilities and self-esteem. The evidence highlights how lifting weights can build mental strength as much as physical strength!
Which Sweat strength training program is best for you?
Ready to give strength training a go? There are plenty of strength-based programs available on the Sweat app, each with step-by-step instructions and guided demonstrations to make sure you complete each exercise and workout with correct form. Because each program is slightly different, here’s a quick guide to help you choose which one might be the best fit for you.
I want to… increase the size and strength of my muscles with lifting workouts split by muscle groups
PWR, PWR At Home and PWR Fusion are three of Kelsey Wells’ most popular programs that follow her signature training style. PWR programs are great if you want your weekly workouts split by muscle groups, with the aim of growing muscular strength and size with a mix of activations, pyramids, supersets and burnouts.
PWR is better suited to those who have access to a gym, while PWR At Home uses home gym equipment, and PWR Fusion brings you a blend of the most popular elements of both!
- Katie Martin’s Strength & Sculpt has also become a fan-favourite amongst the Sweat Community, with workouts that use a combination of free weights and gym machines to progressively increase your strength and muscle mass.
I want to… build muscle strength at home or in the gym with 30-minute dumbbell workouts
It sounds like you would enjoy Ignite Strength with Britany Williams. Brit is all about effective and efficient workouts that don’t involve much equipment or big chunks of time. Each week there is a lower, upper and full-body workout, alongside a core and mobility session.
Kelsey’s Low Impact Strength is another popular option, designed to build your confidence with strength training and learn fundamental movement patterns with 20-minute dumbbell workouts.
I want to… build muscle strength with high-intensity, fast-paced workouts and basic equipment
FIERCE and FIERCE at Home by Chontel Duncan are great programs if you’re looking for a mixture of strength training and high-intensity workouts, with a combination of circuits and finishers to help you gradually progress to lifting heavier weights while keeping your heart rate high!
Kayla Itsines’ High Intensity program is also perfect for varied, intense workouts that will challenge your strength and stamina.
I want to… build muscle strength and athletic skill with high-intensity workouts and larger gym equipment
It sounds like you have an advanced level of fitness and really want to challenge yourself in the gym, so Sweat has two high-intensity strength programs that could be perfect for you.
High Intensity Strength with Kayla features 30-minute gym workouts, split into upper-body, lower-body and full-body sessions.
High Intensity Strength with Cass includes 30-45 minute gym workouts which focus on fundamental movement patterns, some Olympic-style heavy lifts, as well as Metcon and Tabata training.
I want to… build muscle mass and strength with elements of powerlifting, Olympic lifting and heavy weights
BUILD is where it’s at if you want to lift heavy! This program focuses heavily on squats, deadlifts and bench presses with the aim of logging your weights and improving your one-rep max (1RM) over time.
This is also a great program if you’re a beginner to lifting and want to learn the correct technique and start your lifting journey. Training at home? Lifting At Home would be a great option.
I want to… improve my strength with bodyweight workouts
Bodyweight Strength with Anissia will help you build a fitness foundation and you’ll learn the fundamentals of movement with time-based strength training and bodyweight circuits you can do at home without equipment.
For a more progressive program, Kelsey’s PWR Zero Equipment is a great fit, or for a high-intensity bodyweight program, you could try Kayla’s High Intensity Zero Equipment or Chontel’s FIERCE Zero Equipment.
Experience the amazing benefits of strength training
Whether you’re a beginner or you want to take your training to the next level, strength training is an amazing way to boost your health and feel amazing.
The benefits of weightlifting for women go far beyond just stronger muscles - it’s a way to look after your heart health, balance, posture, cognitive function, overall physical performance, metabolic resting rate, bones and mental wellbeing.
We LOVE strength training, and we know you will, too.
* Disclaimer: This blog post is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. The above information should not be used to diagnose, treat, or prevent any disease or medical condition. Please consult your doctor before making any changes to your diet, sleep methods, daily activity, or fitness routine. Sweat assumes no responsibility for any personal injury or damage sustained by any recommendations, opinions, or advice given in this article.