Strength Training for Women

9 Aug


If you’ve been around here a time or two before, you know I LOVE lifting.  It keeps me strong and has been super helpful keeping my mind off running (or the lack there of).  It hasn’t always been this way though.  I used to be a little cardio monster…pretty much only doing cardio.  I had it in my head that I would bulk up with weights.  Genetically, it seemed completely possible to bulk up, as both my sister and I have always had arms a bit on the thicker side (really helpful in things like tubing behind a boat :)).

When I first started P90X last October, there was always this little bit of fear…am I going to turn into a manly lady?  Not that that’s a bad thing, just not what I’m going for here. Throughout round 1 of P90X, I found myself not bulking up, but actually toning up.  The heavier I lifted, the more it seemed to work and the tighter I got.  By round 2 of P90X I lifted as heavily as I could and guess what?  No evidence of going hulk!  In fact, I loved what the strength training was doing for my body!  As a previous cardio monster, I wondered how I was ever going to get that toned look.  “Come on, I’m running 40 miles a week – shouldn’t that be enough?!”  Well, for me the secret has been strength training.

P90X and ChaLean Extreme are both programs with a heavy focus on strength training.  Meaning we do curls, lateral raises, squats, tricep extensions, and presses – all with weights!  Most of the time I’m fluctuating between 5-15 lbs. per exercise, but this far exceeds my previous days of  my 5 lb. limit: “if I lift over 5 lbs. I will get bulky.”  In my experience, it seems that the only way I would get bulky is if I was trying to: supplements, hormones, or other means.  Amazing.  Mind blown!  (In a good way!)

Inspired by my experience of shattered ideas (that I’ve held for most of my life), I went to the internet to find some support.  Of course I found articles on or bodybuilder about the importance of strength training.  But what surprised me was the other locations that touted strength training for women (and training more than just the 2 or 3 lbs. that I thought would get me looking toned).  Discovery Health, the Huffington Post, Prevention, and Shape all had a few articles pop up in seconds, and there are literally hundreds more.  If you’re curious about women weight-lifting you’ll find all that you need in just a couple of clicks.  These were some of the highlights from my research (articles above) that stuck out to me, talk about empowering:

Reasons for Strength Training

  • You burn calories after the session.  A study by the Journal of Strength and Conditioning found that up an extra to 100 calories were burned in the 24 hours after a weight-training session.  Take that cardio!
  • Bye bye Belly Fat!  A study by the University of Alabama found that women who lifted lost more belly fat than those choosing cardio alone.  Yes please.
  • Injury prevention.  The stronger you are, the less prone to injury you will be!
  • A stronger core will make you faster (running).  This happened to me, and I was shocked!
  • Strength training revs up your metabolism!  Chalene is always saying that we’re waking up our metabolism.  And that’s a great thing!  As she said, “higher metabolism, more food” Yay :)
  • Strength training lowers blood pressure for 10-12 hours after the session according to William Haskell at Stanford.  This is one of plethora of health benefits – I’m not even talking vanity.
  • Strength training gives you a sculpted, defined look.  Period dot.  My arms didn’t change “size” in measurements during P90X but holy cow did their look change.  Much more toned!
  • Lifting weights is excellent for women because it can help with the battle against bone loss.  This is especially crucial to prevent osteoporosis.  Now that I think about it… I should really be talking my mom into this!
  • You feel like a champ.  I mean, I feel like a lot of words after a good strength training session.  But let’s just say champ.  Or maybe like Will Smith getting out of the space ship after kicking the alien’s butts in Independence Day.  Yeah, like that.

So if you’ve never considered lifting or strength training, I highly encourage you to give it a go.  It may surprise you, just like it surprised me!



Are you a fan of strength training?  What benefits have you found?

21 Responses to “Strength Training for Women”

  1. Catherine @ A Two Storey Home August 9, 2013 at 7:49 am #

    Awesome motivation!! Lifting weights really does make a difference (and does not bulk you up ;-)). I love the way I feel afterwards!

    • kelly @ racesrepsramblings August 9, 2013 at 10:12 am #

      Thanks lady! I guess on behalf of all those articles and researchers I will thank you :) And glad you agree – it is pretty stinking awesome. I’m glad I discovered it!

  2. kathy@vodka and soda August 9, 2013 at 9:48 am #

    100000% agree! i did insanity before p90x and while i lost the fat, i didn’t look “tight” until p90x. i could lift all day!

  3. Ashley @ Eat Run Live Happy August 9, 2013 at 9:55 am #

    I was always so scared of strength training because when I was in softball my dad always joked about how my arms were big. (he didn’t understand girls don’t joke like that.) Now that I’m marathon training and kicking it up, it’s amazing how much strength training is helping me run! I may still have “bigger” arms for a “girl” but I love them and they help me do what I love…. Run.

    • kelly @ racesrepsramblings August 9, 2013 at 10:15 am #

      I love that your dad didn’t understand that isn’t a joking matter. I feel like my sister and I both had to overcome that with our dad! ;) And you’re right about the speed from strength training – it’s pretty amazing what it can do, my pace dropped significantly when I started strength training. I guess being a bit “bigger” is now turning out to be a big win! :)

  4. Sarah @ Sweet Miles August 9, 2013 at 10:22 am #

    I really need to lift in, start lifting all together, haha. I used to, and I remember loving it and how STRONG I felt!! Great motivation to get back intot he gym and pick up some free weights!

    • kelly @ racesrepsramblings August 12, 2013 at 9:19 am #

      Hahah! I know – I feel you on this. I go through waves of lifting, and you are right: it always makes me feel so strong. And it’s such a good feeling! :)

  5. Lucy @ Lucy On The Lookout August 9, 2013 at 2:46 pm #

    After reading this, it is blatantly apparent that I NEED to start lifting!! Just need to build up the courage ;) Oh and had a look at your last post, you look so gorgeous in all your runner-up wedding garb! You must be getting SO flippin’ excited :) !

    • kelly @ racesrepsramblings August 12, 2013 at 9:21 am #

      Hahah you know – I actually thought about you while I was collecting all the benefits! I really think you would enjoy it. Or at very least you can try it and find out for yourself. It certainly has made a huge difference for me! And thanks for your sweet compliment! I’m getting REALLY excited, especially as the hard decisions are over and we’re onto things like “what flavor cupcake” that’s easy! :)

  6. Meghan @ fitnesscrEATures August 9, 2013 at 6:18 pm #

    YAY my co blogger Rebekah LOVES lifting and I’m starting to slowly incorporate it via classes at the gym, for starters! :) Have a fabulous weekend!

    • kelly @ racesrepsramblings August 12, 2013 at 9:21 am #

      Wohoo! Yeah – it’s such a good thing. I am surprised by just how much I love it now. Hope you had a great weekend too! :)

  7. TheDailyRunner August 10, 2013 at 11:51 am #

    I use strength training as an excuse for me to get massages for my sore muscles :)

  8. Kelly @ RaceFor50States August 10, 2013 at 1:25 pm #

    Good job! I hadn’t heard of this ChaLean Extreme program until recently. Do you have any good recommendations for workouts that aren’t programs? (I don’t want to commit to P90X or any 6-12 week programs. I just want a library of singular workouts – have you spied any of those floating around the internet?) I’m trying to mix in more of this. I think it definitely helps with my running pace!

    • kelly @ racesrepsramblings August 12, 2013 at 9:25 am #

      Thanks Kelly! Yeah – I hadn’t heard of it either, but I really love it! Hmm… I’m trying to think. I usually do these programs, so I’m not sure if I’ve done any singular workouts per say. But, what I often do is now that I’m done with P90X I will use those workouts as singular workouts. I’m guessing I will probably do the same with ChaLean. So you definitely don’t HAVE to follow the 90 approach, but just use the variety of workouts. The closest thing I’ve done to a singular workout is the Jillian Michaels Ripped in 30. I liked it, and it’s a good workout…but I think I prefer the variety in my other programs. I have a review up on Ripped in 30 – that should give you some ideas! Sorry I don’t have more experience with those!

  9. Brittany August 14, 2013 at 2:09 pm #

    Yessss I need to do more strength work!! The small amount that I have done has already benefited my running!! WHOOOO!

  10. Ashley @ Eat Run Live Happy August 16, 2013 at 1:38 pm #

    I just wanted to tell you I nominated you for the Liebester award! (See my blog post tomorrow) I love reading your blog!

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