Women and strength training go together. At least, this is true of women who want to have strong bones and don't want to break a hip when they are old and gray.
Strength training is another name for weight lifting or resistance training. It's a good way to challenge the natural erosion of muscle mass that greets us in our later years.
Our bones also lose their heft as we get older unless we do something about it on a regular basis. Strength training can add density to your bones.
You can go to a gym or do strength training exercises at home. Some exercises like abdominal crunches, push-ups, pull-ups and squats don't need any equipment.
Resistance tubing is light and isn't expensive. When you stretch it, your muscles (and bones) get a workout. Resistance tubing is available wherever sporting goods are sold.
Freeweights like barbells and dumbbells are great for strength training, and can be used at home or at the gym. Weight machines can be purchased and used at home. They're found in most gyms or fitness centers as well.
While a regular strength training program is a good thing, doing it wrong or doing too much too soon can be a very bad thing. You can really hurt yourself if you aren't careful and disciplined.
Some stretching or easy aerobics warming you up for five minutes or so will ease you into your weights routine. Dr. Laskowski, a physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. and co-director of the Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine Center, recommended doing no more than 12 repetitions of an exercise.
Alwyn Cosgrove is a gym owner, a coach and fitness writer. He has recommended employing a weights-and-intervals program, for instance switching from high-intensity sessions on an exercise bike to running. He advocated strength training that may or may not be accompanied by intervals, to be done for under an hour, three times per week.
Cosgrove preferred free weights over a machine because more muscles will be worked more effectively. He suggested working with a weight where you can do eight to 10 repetitions. Gradually work up to 11, then 12. The next step is to move up to the next size weight.
Your muscles will need a day off to recuperate from the day before's exertions. Don't skimp on this unless you want to do some damage to your muscles. A little soreness comes with the territory but sharp intense pain is always a bad sign. Stop what you're doing immediately if you come to this point.
And don't be fooled into thinking you need to hoist those weights for hours every day. Two or three sessions of 20 or 30 minutes duration will make a significant difference over time.
It will take a few weeks to notice any change, but stay with it and you will see results.
Jody Smith is a freelance writer for EmpowHER.com.
Strength training: Get stronger,
Strength training: Get stronger, leaner, healthier
8 Strength Training Tips for Women