The Impact of Strength Training on Women's Health

by dr. Sekar Cesaruni bullet
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Reviewed by dr. Muthia Trisa Nindita & Kristihandari
The Impact of Strength Training on Women's Health
The Impact of Strength Training on Women's Health

“Cardio, cardio, and more cardio, that's the only way to lose weight,” they say. “You have to sweat the fat to lose it,” they say. However, is that the truth?

Weight lifting might be intimidating, with concerns: what if I get bulky and don't get that feminine shape? What if I injure myself? What if I'm laughed at when I'm training in the gym?

Let's start by addressing and dispelling any fears and doubts you may have about strength training, alright? Here are some questions when it comes to strength training in women:

1. Strength training will make me go too bulky!

Myth. Women have lower levels of testosterone than men, which means it is more difficult for women to build bulky muscles. However, strength training helps women develop lean muscle, improve their physical strength, and boost their metabolism.

2. Cardio is better for me to lose weight than strength training

Yes and no. Cardio is very effective when it comes to burning calories at the time you do the exercise. However, strength training builds muscle, increases resting metabolic rate, and burns calories even if you're not exercising.

Ideally, achieving the right balance of exercise and diet is crucial for weight loss and overall fitness. It's also important to monitor calorie intake.

3. I'm too old for weight training

It's never too late when it comes to resistance training, yes there's a risk of fractures when weight training is not done prudently, however with the proper form and techniques strength training, helps improve bone density, reduces the risk of osteoporosis, maintains muscle mass and strength which in turn helps with mobility and overall health.

Another interesting fact is that weight training can maintain metabolism, meaning it helps maintain diseases such as diabetes, cholesterol, cardiovascular health and others.

4. Strength training will decrease my flexibility, my body will turn stiff

A misconception is that strength training reduces flexibility, but in fact, it can improve flexibility, strengthen muscles around joints, enhance range of motion, and reduce stiffness.

Though, don't forget your stretches, warm-ups, and cool-downs.

Now that we've (hopefully) dispelled some of your doubts about strength training, let's cover a little about it.

What is strength training?

Strength training, also known as resistance training, is a physical exercise designed to increase muscle strength by making muscles work against a weight or force.

Resistance training is considered a form of anaerobic exercise that has a lot of health benefits such as:

  • Improving resting metabolism, is a great strategy for weight loss.
  • Helps control blood sugar and other metabolic diseases.
  • Increases muscle mass: Reduces sarcopenia (muscle loss) which in turn reduces risks of fall. Also improves general physical functions.
  • Improves bone density: Reduces osteopenia/osteoporosis, which decreases chances of fractures.
  • Improves joint flexibility: Reduces stiffness and arthritis.
  • Improves hormone production: One is the happy hormone, which in turn reduces anxiety, stress, and depression.
  • Reduces fatigue and overall health.
  • Improves sleep.
  • Lowers the risk of cancer.

What are WHO's recommendations for exercise?

Adults should do at least 150- 300 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity; or at least 75–150 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity; or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity activity throughout the week, for substantial health benefits.

For additional Health benefits, Adults should also do muscle-strengthening activities at moderate or greater intensity that involve all major muscle groups on 2 or more days a week, as these provide additional health benefits.

Tips and tricks

1. Start small

Empires are not built overnight, and so is your body. Start your exercise with lighter weight first and then build up from there.

The NSCA recommends doing 1-6 reps for strength, 6-12 for muscle growth, and more than 15 repetitions to build endurance.

However, it's a good idea to have a trainer who's more experienced in the field to guide you through your exercise safely.

2. Have a goal

May it be for body goals, for weight loss, or to just be healthier. Having a goal helps in being focused, for, in the end, self-discipline is what's causing the magical changes.

3. Listen to your body

Pain does mean muscle gain, but not too much to the point of it being unbearable, take things in moderation.

4. Stay hydrated and have a balanced diet

Health benefits show in a diet high in whole grains, vegetables, fruit, legumes, and nuts, and low in salt, free sugars, and fats, particularly saturated and trans fats.

5. Do variations

Strength training doesn't only mean dumbbells and the pricey membership at the gym, it also includes something as simple as your body weight and exercises such as squats, lunges, push-ups, planks, and many more that are possible to do at home.

6. Last, but most crucial is to remember to have fun!

Exercise releases happy hormones known as endorphins, feel the positive changes exercise can bring you, physically, mentally and socially for in the end these 3 factors bring about the true definition of healthy.


For a successful exercise cardio, resistance training, counting calorie intake and mental state are inseparable, all factors play a role in achieving your goals, may it be for a healthier body, weight loss, or even body goals.

It's never too late to strength train, just remember to take it in moderation and see the amazing changes it creates to your body, mind, and overall health. 

ReferenceNational Center for Biotechnology Information. Accessed in 2024. The Role of High-Intensity and High-Impact Exercises in Improving Bone Health in Postmenopausal Women. National Center for Biotechnology Information. Accessed in 2024. Loading Recommendations for Muscle Strength, Hypertrophy, and Local Endurance: A Re-Examination of the Repetition Continuum. National Cancer Institute. Accessed in 2024. Physical Activity and Cancer. Public Health & Epidemiology from Oxford. Accessed in 2024. Does Strength-Promoting Exercise Confer Unique Health Benefits? A Pooled Analysis of Data on 11 Population Cohorts With All-Cause, Cancer, and Cardiovascular Mortality Endpoints. ResearchGate. Accessed in 2024. The effect of strength training on women’s happiness and well-being: a systematic review. Sports Medicine. Accessed in 2024. The Effect of Resistance Training in Women on Dynamic Strength and Muscular Hypertrophy: A Systematic Review with Meta‑analysis. WHO. Accessed in 2024. WHO Guidelines on Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour.