There was a furore earlier this week when a Twitter troll slammed Serena Williams – who'd just won her sixth Wimbledon title – saying her muscular physique made her look like a man.
Muscles are vital for health and everyday activities like, you know, standing up
Codswallop. Everyone’s ideas of what’s aesthetically pleasing might be different, but fit and healthy is always going to be hot in our book. And muscles are vital for health and everyday activities like, you know, standing up.
So, dear internet doofuses, here are a few reasons why strong muscles and strength training are for everyone, not just blokes.
1. Strong muscles improve your posture
If you sit at a desk hunched over a computer all day, chances are your posture isn’t great. “Working on your core strength and building the muscles around your mid-section and back can help improve muscular imbalances and get you standing tall," says Julia Buckley, fitness trainer and author of The Fat Burn Revolution.
Try the plank exercise to improve your core strength, the bridge for your lower back, and seated dumbbell rows for rounded shoulders.
2. Muscles burn calories even when you’re doing nowt
If you haven’t tried strength training, you may think of it as a fairly sedate activity, but it can actually be pretty intense. “Strength training can really get your heart rate and breathing going so you’re burning calories while you workout," says Julia.
Muscle tissue is very metabolically active, so it burns calories even when you’re not training
“But the burn doesn’t stop there. Muscle tissue is very metabolically active, so it burns calories even when you’re not training. Think of it like a car – the bigger the engine, the more fuel you need to move it."
3. Building muscle increases bone density
After the age of 35 we gradually start losing bone density (great!) and women lose it more rapidly after the menopause.
Studies have shown that weight training can help prevent bone loss
Luckily studies have shown that weight training can help prevent bone loss. It improves balance and coordination too, making it particularly valuable for those suffering from osteoporosis who are at risk of falls and fractures.
4. Strength training can make you better at other sports
The stronger you are, the easier everyday things become, particularly other sports. “Building strength means increased power," says Strength and Performance coach Jonny Jacobs.
Strength training helps improve your running economy, meaning each stride takes less effort
“That power is what will help you run faster or jump higher and can give you the edge over your competitors. Strength training also helps improve your running economy, meaning each stride takes less effort and you can keep going for longer."
5. And it can help prevent injury
If you have a weakness or muscle imbalance you’re more likely to get an injury when you workout. “Building strength through your range of motion and working on your core strength will help keep everything aligned and protect against tweaks and injuries," says Julia.
6. Strength work makes you look HOT!
Worried about looking like the Hulk? You shouldn’t be. “If you want to look like a body builder, you’re going to have to train and eat like a body builder," say Julia. “And even then, it takes a huge amount of work and effort, and a regimented diet. For the vast majority of people lifting weights and strength work is going to result in a more defined, stronger physique rather than the body of Arnie."
7. Building muscle reduces your risk of heart disease and diabetes
As with any form of exercise, strength training has some pretty darn beneficial effects on your body. It can help in the fight against obesity, lower your risk of heart disease and can even help diabetics manage their blood sugar levels. Who's going to argue with that eh?