Do women need strength training exercises?

The benefits of strength training are not sex specific. The same physiologic and performance adaptations and benefits apply to everyone.

Strength training is a critical component to maintaining muscle mass over time and enhancing bone density. Osteoporosis is a concern for aging female population and strength training will certainly reduce risk of onset.

Ladies need strength training! The health benefits include maintaining or increasing muscle mass, increasing bone strength and helping to rev up the metabolism. Those reasons alone are terrific. Want another great benefit to weight training? It helps us to reshape our bodies. Would you like nicer shoulders? More arm definition for when you wear a sleeveless shirt or dress? Add weight training to your workouts and help the areas that genetics didn't give you.

Shannon Jay Dougherty
Fitness Specialist

If you are a woman, do yourself a favor and implement strength training into your exercise routine. Strength training increases your metabolism by increasing the number of calories you burn. For every pound of lean muscle mass, you burn 35-50 calories per day. What women doesn't want to burn extra calories in a day?

It also improves balance, increases and restores bones density, helps you age gracefully and makes you look and feel better. Many women mistakenly believe that strength training will make them bulky. Women simply do not have enough testosterone in their body to make them bulky. So start strength training to reshape your body!

Strength training should be an essential part of a women’s routine to help with aging and the prevention of osteoporosis. A balanced workout routine should incorporate cardio, strength and resistance training. Strength training decreases body fat, increases metabolism and increases bone density.

Tara Finch , NASM Elite Trainer
Fitness Specialist

Women should have strength training incorporated into their fitness lifestyle. Because we lose 4% of muscle mass every decade and 10% after the age of 50, it is important that we keep our muscles activated and strong. Having a regular progressive strength routine also helps keep our bones strong and lessens our chances of developing osteoporosis or osteopenia. It is also recommended that you consult with your doctor regarding calcium intake/supplementation - to make sure you are getting the correct amounts which is vitally important as we age for bone strength.

Women need strength training more than anyone else. "Women"  being any female over the age of 12. At 12 years old it's important to do body weight strength training for a year or two and slowly start adding in light weights as time goes by, moving into a periodization style of training where you will lift heavy weights for a period of time, say, six weeks and then drop back into a circuit training with lighter weights. Strength training is like mathematics as there is an infinite number of ways to mix up your workouts and keep it going as a lifelong way of living.

The reason this is so important is to prevent osteoporosis in later years as this is extremely painful and as a former nurse I can promise you it is very hard to control the pain of osteoporosis. You will feel actual pain in your bones and to watch elderly women lay in bed and cry because they are in so much pain and have had all the pain medicine they can have is so heartbreaking that I MUST spread the word that there is scientific evidence backing up that strength training is one of the most important things you can do to reduce your risk of having osteoporosis in your 30's, 40's and beyond.

One of the most important reason women need strength is for preventing Osteoporosis. As women get older they are more at risk of Osteoporosis. Strength training exercises put much needed stress on bones and makes them stronger. If you have Osteophenia (begining stages of Osteoporosis) the doctor will strong advise you do strength training to strengthen the bones.

Kimberly Garrison
Fitness Specialist

The number one persistently persistent myth is weight training bulks women up. Baby, nothing could be further from the truth. The only things bulking us up are those biscuits, breads, and bagels.  

Lifting heavy weights benefits women and is one of the best ways to increase strength, while simultaneously improving muscle tone. Here are the top 3 myths:

Myth 1: Strength training causes women to become larger and heavier.

The truth is strength training helps reduce body fat and increase lean tissue. Muscle takes up less space than fat. Muscle is also more metabolically active, and along with diet and the appropriate amount of cardiovascular exercise will help to accelerate your weight loss. The'll be leaner, more toned, and defined.   

Myth 2: Women should avoid high-intensity or high loading training. Women are typically encouraged to use limited resistance, such as light dumbbells, in their strength exercises. Women need to train at intensities high enough to cause adaptation in bone, muscle, cartilage, ligaments, and tendons. When exercise intensity provides insufficient stimulus, you’ll gain insufficient benefit. To gain maximum benefit from strength training, women should often perform their exercises at or near the repetition maximum for each. Lifting heavy weights will produce the firm, fit, and cellulite free looking body that most women covet.  

Myth 3: I exercise so I can eat whatever I want. This is another big myth. Honey, please, exercise is no substitute for poor nutrition. Contrary to popular belief, you simply cannot eat poorly and exercise the poor choices away in a thirty minute jog on the treadmill. Sorry, it just doesn’t work that way.

Osteoporosis (loss of bone mass) happens as we age and is generally more of a problem for women. Building muscle helps strengthen bones too. Few women will get too bulky from strength training, but it will help avoid injury and bone loss. Muscle also boosts fat burning in the body, another plus! If you find traditional weight lifting boring, or aren't getting the results you want from it, try a routine that sculpts long lean muscles while incorporating strength training in a total body workout.

Strength training has a number of benefits. Not only can strength training help to decrease body fat, increase your metabolism, and keep your bones strong. Strengthening exercises can help keep you from losing muscle mass and muscle burns more calories than fat. This means that the more muscle you have, the higher are your chances of burn more calories overall. In addition, as women age, they tend to slowly lose muscle mass, leading to losses in strength and a decrease in your body’s ability to burn calories.

Women often believe strength training is only for men. The fear is that once they start lifting, they will start to bulk-up and get too muscular. That is just not the case! 

Strength training has multiple health benefits for women:

  1. Healthy bones. Resistance training stresses your bones which lead to increased bone density. This may reduce your risk for osteoporosis.
  2. Burn more calories. Muscles need more energy than fat, so as you build muscle you will also burn more calories.
  3. Decrease fatigue. When you are strong enough to battle the tasks of the day, you won't run out of energy as quickly. 
  4. Toned body. Muscles are what give your body their shape, so if your fitness goals involve toning and tightening up, muscles are a sure fire way to get you the curves you want!


Jack D. Potter
Fitness Specialist

During your life time you will lose about 4% of your muscle mass per decade between the ages of 25 – 50. After the age of 50 you’ll lose about 10 % of your muscle mass per decade. So you want to have as much muscle mass on your body as possible. Muscle burns calories, even while you are at rest. One of the other benefits of lifting weights is that your bones become stronger. As you age your bones can begin to become weaker. When you lift weights, it begins to strengthen your muscle and the muscle is the part of the body that keeps the bones together. So the stronger your muscle, the stronger your bones become and you are less likely to suffer from osteopenia (bones becoming soft) or osteoporosis (bones becoming brittle).

Mike Allard, NASM Elite Trainer
Fitness Specialist

Strength training is not only great for maintaining and building lean muscle mass (which acts as the bodies natural fat burner) but it's also great for burning calories, increasing muscle tone and keeping the bones healthy. Women are particularly susceptible to osteopenia and osteoporosis. Bone mass peaks in your 20's and then begins to decline. One of the best ways to combat this decrease in bone mass is by strength training. Regardless of your goals, strength training should be a part of your overall fitness regimen.

There is a common misconception about women 'bulking up' if they strength train. This is a fallacy that has no truth to it. Women simply do not have enough of the 'right' hormones to bulk up like guys do. So, unless a women is supplementing with prohormones or anabolic steroids, she isn't going to bulk up like a guy. Think about strength training this way: picture an uncooked hamburger patty. This is your body before strength training. What happens to the patty as you cook it? The fat 'melts' off of it and the size of the patty shrinks. This post-cooked hamburger patty, now leaner and smaller, is your body after strength training. Bottom line, strength training should be a part of every woman's fitness regimen!

Andrea Metcalf
Fitness Specialist

Women need strength training. Women in the United States get breast cancer more than any other type of cancer except for skin cancer. It is second only to lung cancer as a cause of cancer death in women. Exercise is a great step in helping reduce your risk of breast cancer and survival rate as well.

Here are 5 reasons you should start exercising now:

  1. HORMONE HELP - Exercise pumps up the immune system and lowers estrogen levels. With as little as four hours of exercise per week, a woman can begin to lower her risk of breast cancer. Those who exercised at least four hours a week during their leisure time had a 37 percent lower risk of developing breast cancer compared with those who were sedentary.
  2. TAKE PAUSE- Exercise is a contributing factor to reducing the risk of breast cancer in post-menopausal women. About 70% of women diagnosed with breast cancer each year are over age 50, and almost half are age 65 and older.
  3. BENCH PRESS PUMP -Exercise, specifically strength training, helps reduce the chances of lymphedema occurrences in survivors. In a study at the University of Pennsylvania conducted by the National Institutes of Health, 14% of the exercisers experienced a flare-up in their lymphedema, compared with 29% of the non-exercisers after one year.
  4. TRAIN LIKE A GIRL - High levels of moderate and vigorous physical activity during adolescence has been found to reduce risks greater than starting later in life. Although the best time to start is now, being role models to our daughters is sage advice too.
  5. KEEP LEAN - Physical activity may prevent cancer by assisting with weight maintenance to avoid a high body mass and excess body fat. People who are obese have an abnormally high and unhealthy proportion of body fat. Obesity and physical inactivity may account for 25 to 30 percent of several major cancers including breast cancer.

Women need strength training exercise to help increase Bone Mass and Bone Mineral Density specifically-this means that by putting stress on the bones we can increase its mass or the amount of bone mineral content. This allows one to be less likely to break or chip a portion of the bone in a simple fall. If a young women starts earlier in her life by being active in impact and strength training activities, under proper certified supervision of course, she can have a good bank of strong dense bone to go into adult. If she continues to stay active, she will maintain that mass. Then as she ages continuing to be active, she will be less likely to susceptible to falls and imbalance that strikes our aging population.

Encourage your daughters, sisters, mothers, and grandmothers to be active and take part in sports and other physical activities.

Most women spend most of their work out focusing on cardiovascular fitness. It is also important for women to do exercises that will help maintain adequate muscle mass (especially as we age.)

Besides improving your overall fitness level, here are some benefits from strength training:

  • Decrease body fat - Strength training 2-3 times a week will help you gain muscle and lose fat. Women typically do not “bulk up” like men, instead develop tone and definition.
  • Increase metabolism - As lean muscle increases so does your resting metabolism, therefore you will burn more calories throughout the day.
  • Increase bone density - Weight training can increase bone mass, therefore reducing the risk of bone injury, fractures and osteoporosis.
  • Improve sports performance and reduce risk of injury - Golf, running, skiing … whatever sport you do, strength training has been shown to improve overall performance as well as decrease the risk of injury.

Strength training not only builds stronger muscles, but also builds stronger connective tissues which increase joint stability.

Women need strength training especially as they get older. But, don't think lifting weights is the only way to train. There are many exercises that use your body weight ... think pushups, squats ... and build strength. And, don't be misled by heavy weights. Instead think more reps, less weight and vary the speed of the reps. Slow, deliberate repetitions with three to five pounds weights will result in beautifully toned arms.

Women need strength training exercises for the following reasons:

  1. Helps keep your mobility as you age
  2. Decrease Your Risk Of Osteoporosis
  3. You Will Be Physically Stronger
  4. Strength training is also important in staying lean
  5. Improve Your Athletic Performance
  6. Reduce Your Risk of Injury, Back Pain
  7. Makes you feel good about yourself
  8. Strength training will make it easier to go upstairs, get up from a chair, or bend over and pick things something up



Many women are afraid of bulking up, and will gravitate towards the cardio equipment in the gym, but a good exercise program will consist of cardio, strength training and flexibility/stretching. Women don't have the hormones that will cause bulking, so they shouldn't be afraid of lifting heavy weights.

Strength training is good for the body in many ways. Muscles (and bones) adapt to the demands imposed on them. A well structured program will help a woman increase her strength, which is useful in everyday life.  (Think carrying children, groceries, etc.). Strong muscles require strong bones, and the exercises that strengthen muscles will also strengthen bones. A sedentary individual will lose muscle mass as they age. (the old "use it or lose it" principle). A good strength program will halt this loss and even reverse it. Finally, strength training is good for weight loss and appearance. A pound of muscle is active and burns calories at rest. A pound of fat does not. For 2 people at the same weight, the one who is leaner (lower percentage of bodyfat) is going to burn more calories at rest than the one who is not. Muscle becomes your friend in burning calories.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.