Female strength training

January 24, 2022


Society is shifting and we are slowly starting to appreciate the importance of getting strong and staying strong – everyone I guess, but I’m talking to my fellow females. There are millions of reasons why strength training is great for females, arguably even more so than our male counterparts! But unfortunately, we probably lift heavy things a little less.

In a nutshell, what is strength training going to do for you?

  • Improve strength and power
  • Improve bone density, particularly important throughout perimenopause and menopause
  • Manage PMS and menopause symptoms
  • Reduce risk of injury through improved physical capacity
  • Improve mental well being
  • Improve capacity and health in later life – sadly participation in sports drops in adolescent females, correlating with poorer capacity and health in later life

More importantly, let’s become weapons, not princesses!

Did you know that the large majority of sport and exercise research has only included men. Why? Partially because of funding, partially because of the medical patriarchy BUT ALSO because our hormone fluctuations make it too hard to study and create outliers in research. So that begs the questions – if our hormones are so powerful to significantly affect patterns in research, why don’t we understand them better and use them to our advantage?

Adapting strength training around your hormones can lead to improved strength, compared to strength training that does not consider your hormonal situation. The follicular phase (first day of your period of day 15ish) is the low hormone phase of your menstrual cycle where you can push higher intensities and lift heavier weights. This is the performance phase of our cycle where we can push for personal bests and recover well. The luteal phase (day 16ish to the first day of your period) is the high hormone phase where hormones can interfere with performance and how we feel. In the luteal phase we want to listen to our bodies and lower the intensity. Higher reps with lower weight (if needed) with a focus on skill and technique might be preferable.

Ahhh menopause, perhaps the even more taboo topic that we females get to experience or look forward to. Common symptoms include hot flushes, night sweats, insomnia, brain fog, decreased bone density and abdominal weight gain. Can’t wait! Too often are these symptoms brushed off as being a part of menopause, the perks of being female, something to look forward to. But it doesn’t have to be like that and it’s actually okay to talk about it! While yes I admit I’m not there yet and still have a while to go, I do have confidence in our bodies and how resilient we can be if we try! Resistance training, plyometrics and/or high intensity training are necessary to increase bone density and muscle mass and minimise abdominal weight gain. Yes – your hormones are changing, but so can you!

So, with that being said it’s time to reboot our female resistance training classes, to bring out the weapon and bury the princess! These classes will be all about getting strong, learning about technique and diving into some taboo topics that I hope will slowly start to shift away from being taboo topics. I’m talking the good, the bad and the ugly of all things periods to menopause and everything in between. I’m not really referring to girl talk chit chat here, I’m talking about how our hormones influence how we feel, how much we can lift, how well we

can recover, how to integrate intensity and when we should listen to our bodies and rest.

A safe space for females, beginners and beyond all welcome and programs scaled accordingly! If this is something you or anyone you know are interested in, please email me at kelly@newcastleperformancephysio.com.au