Women, Weights & Girls Fitness Academy

Why Women Need To Use Resistance Training


So tonight sees the launch of our NEW Blast Girls Fitness Academy. I was tidying up the slides over the weekend and was still a bit shocked that even though we have more information available , we still have to keep correcting poorly communicated messages from popular media sources!

If you want to attend tonight please head to http://www.mattluxtonhealthandfitness.com/girlsfitnessacademy and register for a seat. You will need to bring your own seat as we don’t have any hear at the studio. We are kicking off at 7:30pm.


A couple of myths that need to be put right!




If you use resistance training you will end up like this







Men & Women don’t need to use resistance because cardiovascular exercise will give them all the benefits they need!


In the article below I have made reference to some scientific studies. This is not to try and confuse you but to allow you to see that it’s not just me saying this, and it’s not something I have plucked out of the air!

Let’s clear up a couple of myths to start with.



Myth 1

You will become bulky and manly if you use resistance training!!!




The hormonal differences between men and women explain the differences in the ability of both genders to grow big, bulging muscles. The lack of testosterone and increased oestrogen levels do not allow women to grow huge muscles like the image at the top of the article.


Secondly, if you want to get ‘BIG bulging muscles’ you train in a way that allows your body to do this. This involves different muscles worked on separate days, using heavy loads and lots of rest.


However if you put multiple exercises into a circuit format where you use intervals of work and rest, you create a fat burning furnace that shunts blood around the body creating a demand for oxygen at multiple muscle sites. The picture at the top of the article is an example of steroid abuse!


How can you get a great shape and health benefits?


It can be your own body weight, rubber bands, kettlebell’s, dumbbell’s, stability ball’s and medicine ball’s to name just a few. Basically anything where you are fighting against the force of gravity or moving your centre of mass (for most of us it’s around our belly button).This can be pushing, pulling, rotation or a locomotion action, whether it be forward, lateral or reverse.


Myth 2

Women don’t need to use resistance because cardiovascular exercise will give them all the benefits they need!!!!



Women need to be strong for everyday activities. With more and more women now going back to work after child birth, playing more sport, coupled with daily activities, this leads to a time-demanding lifestyle.

Therefore, exercise needs to be efficient in terms of time taken and effectiveness of the exercises prescribed. One of the best ways to do this is to train using functional modalities such as body weight, dumbbells and resistance bands.

These modalities will help to preserve and increase lean body mass which is crucial when you want to burn body fat .

The increased demand for calories from a higher percentage of muscle mass results in a leaner physique.

By exclusively using cardio vascular training you run the risk of decreasing lean body mass, resulting in a slower metabolism and reduced fat burning capacity.




  1. Preserves and protects bone tissue
  2. Extremely effective for fat loss without the risk of losing muscle
  3. Injury prevention


BONE LOSS-the benefits of resistance training


Apart from supporting the skeletal system the pull of the muscles on the bones helps to increase bone density. This is increased when the muscles are put under load from any form of resistance training.

This is of major benefit to women in the prevention of osteoporosis. Cussler et al (2003) found that in young menopausal women (55years old), the more resistance they used the greater the increase in total body bone mass density (BMD). Interestingly the greatest change in bone density was found at the femoral trochanter (hip) and was most significantly linked with the squat exercise.

Winters & Snow (2000) found that going through extended periods of time without training will reverse the positive effects of resistance training in pre menopausal women (30-45years).

MESSAGE: Be CONSISTENT…..year round 🙂


The message from this is that continued training is required to maintain the benefits for the musculoskeletal system in later life to prevent injury during falls. This training does not have to be in a progressive nature the whole time, it can go through periods of maintenance and a fitness professional can advise you on this.


FAT LOSS- The benefits of resistance training


Remember that when we do aerobic activity we use oxygen.

The fuel for this is system is predominantly fat stores.  So if we keep just doing aerobics our bodies become very efficient at storing body fat because it knows that this is the store it needs most!

When we use interval style training, which, among other modalities, can involve running, cycling, swimming or RESISTANCE TRAINING we tend to do use short bursts of energy. These bursts require glycogen (stored carbohydrate) from the muscle and liver to provide the energy. We then become very efficient at storing glycogen; this is a plus in the prevention of diabetes.


Brown & Wilmore (1974) showed with a six month intensive strength training programme that women gained considerable strength whilst showing very little muscle growth. A perfect example of this could be professional pole dancers who compete at the world championships.


Brown & Wilmore also found:


  • No increase in absolute body mass because the losses in adipose tissue (fat) outweighed those of muscle mass increases.
  • A control group restricted calories heavily and these women did not increase their lean body mass, which shows the importance of proper nutrition when trying fire up your metabolism and increase muscle tissue which helps to burn fat!
  • The percentages of circumference gained in the arms and thighs were very small…i.e. the women did not get too large because of strength training.


Kraemer et al (1993) showed in their study that when a woman used total body resistance training with her aerobic training, her health profile improved dramatically! The addition of resistance training to the women’s training increased upper body strength and muscle performance AND Cardiovascular fitness more than if they exercised using traditional cardiovascular methods of training alone! Fleck & Kraemer (2004) also suggested that women need to train regularly to lose subcutaneous body fat and must couple this with calorific restriction not starvation.



Nindl et al (2000) found that when resistance and cardiovascular training were combined that women lost body fat first of all from the upper body, then the abdomen and finally on the legs. In conclusion it was stated that in all on average 10% body fat was lost during 6 months of intensive training.



Demling & DeSanti (2000) found that with increased protein intake and resistance training, women had significant reductions in abdominal fat and increases in lean body mass. They suggested that this may have been due to an increased metabolism and efficiency at digesting nitrogen. It was also suggested that because of the resistance training undertaken, this reduced catabolism (muscle eating phenomenon), which in turn helped to increase their metabolism. Catabolism is one of the side effects of over training by exclusively using cardiovascular training methodologies, leading to increased fat mass.


Tremble et al (1994) conducted a study where GROUP A  (ENDURANCE) did steady state cardiovascular activity for 20 weeks and GROUP B (INTERVAL) did interval training for 15 weeks. They found that those people who did interval training lost 9 times the amount of subcutaneous fat (fat under the skin) than the endurance group. Interestingly they also lost fewer total calories, which would suggest this was more efficient type of exercise due to the time taken to lose the fat mass!



It’s the muscular demand for calories that determines how many calories you burn!


INJURY PREVENTION-the benefits of resistance training


The number one injury in female athletes is ACL injuries, up to 6 x that of men. The ACL is a major ligament in the knee which prevents unwanted rotation of the knee (very important!). Women do have what is known as a larger Q angle, which is basically the angle from the hip to the knee; this is mainly to allow child birth and has developed as we have evolved. This will normally mean that the knee does not track the foot exactly and this is why women tend to turn their toes out more when performing squats. This can be helped by performing single leg exercises such as step ups, lunges, split squats and single leg squats.


Due to increased levels of relaxin a hormone produced by women to allow easier child birth, this leads to slightly looser joints particularly the elbows and knees. Its strength training that will allow us to reduce the risk of injury and stabilise these joints.


Whilst I have acknowledged that there are many individual differences between men and women, I also believe that women too should be using resistance training to optimise their lives.

I am seeing it first hand in our Blast Fitness Camps and in the other services we provide here at the studio.

Holloway & Baechle (1990) support this, expressing that there is no reason why men and women should train differently, but programmes should be tailored to each individual.


So to sum this up, men and women should use resistance training to:


  1. Lose fat
  2. Increase bone mass helping to prevent osteoporosis
  3. Decrease injuries
  4. Improve their ability to perform daily tasks (function)




Get the look YOU want!


Have a great week