Like many women, I have a love-hate relationship with the weight room at my gym. It doesn’t matter if I sneak in at 3 AM or 3PM, it’s always crowded with men. Men with bulging, veiny biceps who groan with each dead lift. Men who drop their weights on the ground with a thud and grunt. And, of course, men who stare. My girlfriends and I affectionately refer to the weight room as the “caveman zone.”
Despite its discomforts, I boldly enter this testosterone-filled den with my shoulders back, head held high, and the music in my ear buds turned up to max. I diligently do my dead-lifts, lunges, squats, and military presses….and get in and out as quickly as possible.
Why do I submit myself to this anxiety-provoking plight 3 times a week? Because I know the importance of strength training. As we age, we can lose up to 3-8% of our lean muscle mass per decade. This, accompanied by a slowing metabolism can result in fat accumulation that’s nearly impossible to burn off. With strength training, your body burns more fat in a resting state (like sitting on the sofa and binge-watching Stranger Things), because it is composed of more lean muscle and less fat.
Additionally, strength-training provides these benefits:
- It strengthens bones, which is especially important for women who account for 80% of all osteoporosis cases
- It improves your range of motion - so you can finally get into that pretzel yoga pose
- It prevents and improves chronic conditions like diabetes, heart disease and depression
- It sharpens your mind – to offset the damaged brain cells that binge-watching Stranger Things has caused
Even with these benefits, only 20% of Americans do strength-training. If you’re like me and would rather get a root canal than enter the caveman zone of your gym, there are other options – you can weight train at home in a small group circuit class with a personal trainer. A knowledgeable personal trainer canwork you through a series of exercises that train and tone your entire body and strengthen bones, increase toning and flexibility, and increase your metabolic rate.