Strength training is an integral part of any workout schedule. In this post, I talk about 5 reasons women should strength train, plus how to fuel your body for building muscle. Thank you to Kroger for helping me share this post with you.
Several years ago, I threw my back out. It happened with the smallest of movements, just a tweak in the wrong direction. I was down for the count. I had to crawl to the bathroom and it took me about half an hour to get down the stairs. It turned out to be nothing more than a pinched nerve, but made me realize that something was missing from my workout routine.
When I was in my late teens, I joined a gym and fell in love with biceps curls and tricep dips, squats and ab exercises. Okay, that's a lie. I NEVER fell in love with abdominal exercises. Which is exactly what led me to crawling across the bathroom floor, at the mercy of an injured back.
When doctors and fitness experts talk of reasons women should strength train, they're not necessarily referring to dumbbells and hand weights. You don't even need to join a gym to take advantage of any muscle building activities. Your options for strength training can include using your own body weight for resistance (think yoga, pilates, push-ups, squats and so on), resistance bands (great for at home workouts or when you're traveling), or hand weights and resistance machines. Do squats while you're blowdrying your hair (my personal favorite), work on your pull-ups while you're at the playground with the kids or hop over to the gym for a quick workout.
We're on Week 4 of the 28 Days to a Healthier New You Challenge. We've talked about cooking at home more often, working 10,000 steps into your day and eating more fruits and vegetables. We're so grateful to our sponsor, Kroger (with their fantastic line of Simple Truth products) for helping us bring this challenge to you.
This week's challenge...
Add strength training into your workout routine
Don't forget to check out Liz's fantastic tips for Strength Training for Beginners (Plus Easy, Affordable Ways to Get Started).
Strength training doesn't need to be complicated, nor does fueling your body to support building your new strong muscles (we'll talk about fueling in a moment). But there are plenty of reasons women should strength train! Let's hit some of my favorites.
5 Reasons Women Should Strength Train:
Protects from injury
As I mentioned above, this is one of the biggest reasons I continue with strength training. Not only does abdominal strengthening help with back stability, but you will seem the same effect for your other joints with various exercises. For example, squats and lunges strengthen the muscles around your knees and hips, making them less susceptible to injury. Less time spent nursing injuries means more time to stay active and enjoy life!
If you're over 30, this is something you should be thinking about. Most women's bone reach peak density by the age of 30. From there, that density starts to decrease and, in fact, as many as 50 perfect of women age 50 or older have low bone mass, which is a precursor to osteoporosis. But there's something we can do about this! Research has shown a positive relationship between strength training and bone density, which is a fantastic reason to start getting serious about those squats and push-ups.
Loss of muscle mass
A couple of years ago, I heard a shocking statistic. Sarcopenia (loss of muscle mass) occurs 3 to 5% per decade after the age of 30. Think about that for a moment. That is a significant amount of muscle mass to be losing per decade. The teacher of one of the strength training classes I've attended actually had this fact printed on a big sign in the gym where the class was held. As a woman over 60 who could quite likely kick the butt of any 20-something man or woman, fitness-wise, she made sure that we knew that our strength training consistency could have an effect on our long-term health.
Plus, strength training makes cardio exercises easier!
Help to maintain body weight
Whether you're trying to lose weight or maintain your current weight, strength training is an important component in your exercise routine. An increase in muscle mass will lead to an increase in your resting metabolism. You know what that means, right? Yep, you'll burn more calories. Need I say more?
General quality of life
For me, feeling strong physically means feeling strong mentally and emotionally. Whenever I'm able to eek out one more push-up or increase the amount of weight for some bicep curls, I feel like I can take on the world. For me, fitness overall - whether strength training or cardio - makes life feel easier because my energy increases, I get sick less often and I seem to be much more efficient each day. For me, those are all reasons to keep pushing along with the workouts!
Fueling for Strength Training:
I'll save the details on this for another post, but let's hit one of the most important points, which can be summed up in one word. PROTEIN! When strength training, you're actually creating tiny tears in your muscles. Protein provides amino acids for your body, which are needed to repair and build your muscles. When I head out for grocery shopping trips to my local Kroger store, I always make a stop in the meat section for our weekly stock-up of grass fed ground beef (Chili & Quinoa Stuffed Peppers!), shrimp, natural pork and turkey breast tenderloins...all natural or grass fed Simple Truth products. Organic crunchy peanut butter, organic yogurt and beef jerky are also great to have on hand for quick snacks following a tough workout.
If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it on Instagram! Just use the hashtag #COOKINCANUCK and I'll be sure to find it.
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Kroger. All opinions are my own. Thank you!