Today I'm reposting one of favourite pieces! I really enjoyed writing this one, as I was able to incorporate my own knowledge, experience and love for lifting into an article that I think is pretty interesting and enlightening to read! I'm also reposting this one because I have BIG NEWS: Small But Mighty will now be offering Semi-Private Women's Basic Barbell and Powerlifting in the Queen West area beginning Saturday November 5th! Check out all the details on the 'MIGHT IS RIGHT' program and grab your spot here!
Batman is one of my favourite superheroes, not only because of his dark and stormy mystique but also because he is just a 'regular guy,' with no innate superpowers like x-Ray vision or superhuman strength. He relies on both his mental strength and physical will to defeat his enemies, and often undergoes quite a beating doing so. Every time I lift heavy, I'm reminded of a quote from the Dark Knight, when Batman and the Joker come face to face in the 'final showdown' for Gotham City: "...This is what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object..." It took me a few years of lifting to realize (and gain the confidence to be sure) that I am that unstoppable force, and though lifting is always a physical and mental challenge, the barbell is certainly not immovable.
I think that the first paragraph of this post highlights one of the main reasons why I love lifting myself and programming it for my clients: confidence and empowerment! There have been too many times to count when faced with a mental or physical challenge I've thought to myself, "if I can squat 200 lbs, I can certainly do this"... And I'm not the only one! I've had clients report similar experiences in their daily lives, in situations ranging from moving furniture to surviving pregnancy, labour and delivery! With every kilo lifted, there comes a sense of accomplishment, of having done some 'work', of having put in time and effort towards a bigger goal or purpose! While you may leave a lifting session both mentally and physically exhausted, it is there, that little spark that keeps you coming back to the bar for more.
In addition to building strength, a periodized resistance training program will also positively impact your body composition; it will help preserve your lean muscle mass, and may also lead to an increase in your basal metabolic rate (i.e. the rate at which you burn calories while resting). For women specifically, regular weight-training will also positively impact your bone health, and help prevent osteoporosis; this is very important in times of peak bone growth, as well as in the elderly.
Also, a well-organized lifting program will decrease your risk of injury by improving your balance and coordination, and may also benefit your sport-specific performance (Healthline 2013). In fact, studies have shown that in as little as 8 weeks, a heavy squatting routine can improve running economy and time to exhaustion at maximal aerobic capacity in highly-trained male and female long-distance runners (Storen et al, 2008).
With regards to sports participation, a prospective study of over 1200 high school athletes demonstrated that untrained female soccer, volleyball and basketball players had a 3.6 greater incidence of knee injuries versus female athletes that underwent a neuromuscular training program including weight-lifting, plyometric movements and flexibility training (Hewett, 1999). In the elderly, periodized resistance training has been shown to increase quality of life, improve power, body composition, and energy expenditure, and reduce the difficulty of completing acts of daily living (Hunter et al, 2004).
Finally, on a personal note I have to say that through lifting I have met some of the most awesome and life-strong ladies I know! Girls that can lift heavy, run fast, eat burgers and rock a summer dress like the best of them! I mention this because there is an expectation that lifting will automatically make girls bulky! This is NOT true! While aesthetics is certainly the last reason I would promote as motivation to lift, resistance training is certainly figure-friendly. My female lifting pals and I get compliments on our figures all the time...funnily enough, the women providing the compliments often don't ask how I train, they only ask how-often. Its one of my favourite things to fill them in on my little iron secret! Seriously though, if you're all about that bass, squats are for you!
I also love lifting because its cathartic, quiet and focused. In the weight-room, there is no pressure to look pretty, to move in a 'lady-like' way, or even to play the most up-to-date music! There is just you, the bar, and if you're lucky, some other awesome ladies to cheer you on and spot you when you need it! In short, lifting is an awesome way to make new friends, build mental and physical strength, increase the resiliency of your muscles and joints, and improve your sport-specific performance. So head on over to your local gym, grab a rack and get lifting. If you're looking to get strong, your barbell will be your new best friend.
Healthline, 2013: The importance of strength training for women.
Storen 0, Helgerud J, Stoa E M, & Hoff J. Maximal strength training improves running economy in distance runners. American college of sports medicine, 2008.
Hewett T, Lindenfeld T, Riccobene J, & Noyes, F. The effect of neuromuscular training on the incidence of knee injury in female athletes. The American Journal of Sports Medicine, 1999.
Hunter G, McCarthy J, & Bamman M. Effects of resistance training on older adults. Sports medicine, 2004.