How is strength training good for women specifically?
Prevention of osteoporosis would be a great reason women should strength train. Research indicates that long-term weight training can help maintain and even form new bone. Those that already do suffer from osteoporosis could still make improvements in balance and coordination, thus preventing the chance of falling. Also, if a woman wants to get leaner by dropping body fat, she has to move loads that are challenging. Not only will strength training provide a more healthy metabolism because it helps to increase and maintain lean tissue, but it will also burn more calories post-workout when compared to lower intensity activities.
What are the main differences between strength training and other kinds of weight training?
Dr. Brad Schoenfeld’s research on muscle hypertrophy (growth) suggests that three types of stimulus are necessary for optimal progress in your resistance training efforts: muscle damage, metabolic stress and mechanical tension. Not only do you need lighter loads and higher reps but also heavier loads with lower reps to increase overall strength and joint structural integrity which may prevent injury in the long run. Constantly using the same weights and loads will prevent progression and may even regress your efforts of obtaining that lean, defined physique you desire due to adaptation.
What are the main supplements women should take while they are strength training?
Above all else, nutrition should be dialed in by observing the diet as a whole and not one meal or item in isolation. Adequate protein, carbohydrate, and fat intake must be prioritized first. If your goal is getting stronger, creatine monohydrate would be at the top of my list. It has been proven in both long-term and short-term research to be safe and effective for both men and women with no negative side-effects and also has benefits outside of athletic performance.
What advice can you give women who want to start strength training without injuring themselves, but while still pushing their limits?
Most women are unaware of what exercises to do and how to do them which is why I highly encourage they take on the help of a certified professional to show them the ropes of proper strength training and how to progress each exercise safely. A qualified trainer can help to push you while also helping to find levels of strength you never knew were possible. It’s all about proper progression and doing the best of YOUR OWN ability.
What advice can you give women who want to increase their strength without increasing their size? Is this even possible?
Yes, very possible. Just lift and monitor caloric intake according to your goal. Women have much lower testosterone levels than men which makes it very hard for them to pack on as much size. The rate of muscle growth per year a woman can naturally achieve declines over the span of several years. Also, take into account that while you’re making lean gains, you’re also losing body fat in the process. I wouldn’t worry about gaining a ton of muscle unless you are supplementing with some sort of anabolic steroid or hormonal manipulation.
What are the best exercises and/or training styles for increasing overall strength for women?
To keep it brief, implementing multi-joint lifts such as barbell squats, deadlifts, shoulder press variations, pull-up or rowing variations, and horizontal pressing variations (push ups and bench press) using varying loads and intensities in a periodized fashion will yield the best overall results for continued progress. Most women are afraid or lack the formal education to perform the compound lifts that make up the basis of a strength training program. Embrace them and you will achieve lean gains.
What are 3 of the most common mistakes women make when strength training and how can they be avoided?
In my opinion, the three most common mistakes that are made if you have some formal training is not learning how to use periodization, not having proper form or going full range of motion, and not using variety in your training sessions. People often get stuck doing the same things over and over because it may have worked for a while then they stop seeing progress. Again, using varying loads and intensities, performing the exercise through a full range of motion, and incorporating different assistance exercises can sometimes make all the difference.
Any other information you feel might be pertinent?
Lift heavy, lift often, and you will obtain the ideal physique!