Strength Training for Women: Why strong is sexy and you should start lifting now

We all know it. The allure of the waif has passed. It is the moment of #MeToo, the time of the woman who is strong and assertive in both mind and spirit. Now is the time to take the challenge for yourself, to build your body to match your will. Truth of the matter, when it comes to weight training there are a lot of misconceptions floating around out there. One is the myth that lifting weights will make you a bulky body builder. Another is the concept that cardio is more important for losing weight. So lets all take a moment out of our busy women lives to review why strength training is not only awesome, but truly essential for every woman, and the key to long term, empowering sexiness.

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Bulk takes time

Jen Pennock Burpee Row PressThere is a misconception floating out there in the world about strength training for women and the possibility of adding bulk when lifting heavy weights. There are few women who work out with the intent of gaining weight and muscle mass. The majority of women workout to either lose weight or to maintain a healthy body, and in most cases they incorporate some form of strength training into their workout. It's common knowledge that strength training is an essential component to a comprehensive workout routine, but what is not as apparent to many women is that focusing on strength based goals and lifting heavier weights can be enormously beneficial in achieving their overall workout goals, and it does not mean "bulking up".

As it turns out, much like losing body mass, accruing lean body mass actually takes a lot of concentrated time and effort. It definitely doesn't happen overnight. Female body builders and women looking to add significant lean muscle mass have to follow a rigorous and dedicated training and nutrition system in order to achieve their goals. That being said, any woman on a journey to shaping her body through strength training with heavier weights may follow the same routine as one of these female body builders, and simply stop that particular training when she has reached the amount of lean muscle mass she desires. The point is that you are in control of how much lean muscle mass you build over time based on how rigorous you are with your training, and when you want to stop.

Now it is true that some women will gain muscle mass more easily than others. This just points to the fact that every person's body is different and may react differently to the exact same exercise regimen. But more importantly, every person's perception of their own body and other bodies is different, meaning that what one woman may perceive as her ideal body type, another woman may think it is too lean or too muscular - or 'bulky'. There is no actual definition of bulky that translates onto a physical form, it is a subjective concept that generally represents something undesirable. The outcome of your workout is up to you, and you can tailor it to achieve any effect that you want.

Fat vs. Muscle: If you want to burn fat, you best build some muscle

Jennifer Bonner Lateral lunge with curlThe beauty of muscle is that it is prime real estate. Muscle is dense, but compact. It weighs more than fat, but takes up less space, which is why you may see the number on the scale go up even as inches around are on the decline. That scale increase can scare a lot of women, but fear not! The more physical real estate muscle occupies, the more energy it needs to sustain itself - meaning that muscle burns the fat for energy.

The truth about weight loss is that it is a comprehensive approach inclusive of cardiovascular exercise, strength training and nutrition. Any of these three elements in isolation will not provide the desired results. They should be thought about as a complementary triangle, which is exactly what they are. To achieve weight loss results that you want in the safest and most efficient way possible for your long term health, you must include all three components in your workout regimen.

Squat thruster Heart Healthy workoutStrength is smart AND sexy

In addition to the weight loss benefits, strength training is also functional. The muscles in our body are what we use for everyday tasks and activities. Carrying the groceries, hanging pictures, picking up your child - you get the idea. As we get older our muscles naturally start to degenerate more quickly. We lose more of the very thing that allows us to function in our daily life.

Be smart about taking care of your body and not letting it get weak. The best solution is preventative. By maintaining a consistent strength training component to your workout regiment, you keep those muscles healthy and strong - and ready to take on any task that comes your way. Also, is gives you the confidence to do physical work and tasks not often associated with the female gender. No need to find some strong guy to lift that bag of potting soil onto your cart, you can do it yourself! It is empowering physically and mentally to be able to achieve things with your own physical strength, so don't miss out on that satisfaction.

Perhaps you aren't sure where to start on your journey of getting stronger. That is exactly why personal trainers are an amazing asset. Even just a couple of sessions can get you started on the right track to learning proper lifting form, and how to progress in your training to build strength and improve muscle tone. If you are not into one on one training or aren't ready for that investment, check out some small group training programs or workshops that focus on weight lifting and technique. Chicago Athletic Clubs has an amazing program called #GirlsWhoLift which does just that in an amazing and supportive female environment! Regardless, getting some professional advice when you are starting out is super important to prevent injury and make the most out of your workouts.

Bottom line, start lifting now. Be on your way to your smartest, strongest, sexiest self and get empowered!

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