The Truth About Strength Training

Learn how just a few resistance exercises can lead to big improvements

Woman's Day—April 7, 2010

Don’t fear the dumbbells—strength training is not only beneficial for women, it’s essential. As women age, they naturally lose muscle that’s important for overall body functioning, says Polly de Mille, R.N., M.A., RCEP, CSCS, a clinical exercise physiologist and administrative director of the Women's Sports Medicine Center at Hospital for Special Surgery in New York. Incorporating strength training—which means using some sort of resistance to get stronger—into your weekly routine will replace this necessary muscle. And don’t worry: Contrary to popular belief, you won’t end up looking like Mr. T!

Not sure it’s for you? Think again:

Bone density
Weight-bearing exercise is the way to go in order to build strong bones and avoid fractures.

Research has shown that women who strength-train were found to have increased confidence and self-esteem soon after, says De Mille.

Unfortunately, many women steer away from strength training because of common misconceptions. Here’s the truth:

It will not bulk you up like those bodybuilders you see on TV. According to De Mille, women don’t have the hormonal capacity to naturally get that big.

It will make you look smaller, not larger. A pound of fat is about the size of a softball, but a pound of muscle is only as big as a baseball. The more fat you replace with lean muscle, the slimmer you’ll appear.

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