Skip links and keyboard navigation

5 reasons why women should do weight training

Wednesday 28 March 2018

A woman completes hand weight exercises while her trainer stands behind her.
Don't worry, strengthening your muscles won't mean that you automatically bulk up.

Wanting to get fitter and stronger but worried about bulking up by working out your muscles? Weight training includes any muscle strengthening activity – whether that’s with hand weights, weight machines, resistance bands or bodyweight. Doing regular muscle strengthening activities on at least two days each week has a number of health benefits. And, it turns out, transforming into the Hulk isn’t a likely outcome.

1. Stop muscle wastage in its tracks

After you turn 30, you naturally begin to lose muscle mass by about 1% each year, with inactive adults losing up to 3-8% annually. Over time, this can lead to decreased strength and stability, higher risk of osteoporosis and weight gain.

Muscle strengthening activities can not only prevent muscle mass loss, but increase muscle mass after loss has occurred.

2. Build and preserve your bone density

You might know that the 206 bones in your body need calcium and vitamin D to keep them strong, but did you know about the importance of weight-bearing exercise for your bones?

Osteoporosis Australia recommends looking after your bones by regularly engaging in muscle strengthening activities that become more challenging over time.

Two women squat with barbells over their shoulders.

3. Prevent falls

‘Having a fall’ might not be an issue you think you have to worry about too much for a few decades yet, but the groundwork for stability when you’re older needs to be laid early. Regular exercise, including muscle strengthening activities, is a proven way to prevent debilitating falls as you age.

4. Speed up your metabolism

Increasing muscle mass also boosts your resting metabolism. This means you burn more kilojoules (energy) throughout the day, even when you’re not physically active, which can help with achieving and maintaining a healthy weight.  

A woman does hand weights with a trainer assisting her to get the right technique.

5. Manage diabetes or reduce your risk

Increases in your lean muscle mass and metabolism through muscle strengthening activities can have important benefits for people with type 2 diabetes or people at risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Diabetes Australia explains that a higher metabolism, due to increased lean muscle mass, helps your body keep blood glucose levels in check, while a lower fat-to-muscle ratio reduces the amount of insulin you need in your body.  

And you’re sure I won’t beef up?

Exercise will affect the body shape of people differently depending on their body type, diet and lifestyle. Getting a body builder’s physique requires a strict regimen with hours in the gym. Women’s hormones naturally limit the amount of muscle it’s possible to gain, so women who are adding some weights to their weekly workout routine shouldn’t worry about turning into Arnie unless that’s their desired goal.

Speak with your GP before adding new exercise to your routine, and if you’re not sure where to start, find an Accredited Exercise Physiologist who can help you add strength training into your routine.

A woman works her arms on a resistance training machine.

Where to start

Follow these links below for strength training workouts you can do at home.

On-the-go strength

Stability and balance

Total body toning

Quick core

More reading

Australian Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines

Physical activity guidelines for older adults

How we can change our body shape with exercise

Last updated: 11 April 2018