Most practical advice about weight training applies to women and men equally, but there are a few areas, specifically pregnancy, where the training needs of women may diverge. And at different ages, the weight training process evolves for both genders, with corresponding shifts in goals, approach and technique.
With that in mind, consider the following as you shape workout plans for yourself, your children, and your teenage girls.
Just like young boys, little girls should not be encouraged to do strenuous weight training until the developing areas of their long bones, called growth plates, have stopped changing. Usually this happens by early puberty, or about age 10. Before that time, weight training can be fun. It can also encourage a sense of competition and build self-confidence. Just focus on reps and keep weight levels low.
The Teen Years
At this point, there’s no inherent danger in heavy lifting, and in fact, young girls should be encouraged to balance their workouts between weight training and cardio. This is especially important for girls who become involved in cardio-heavy sports. Encourage your active teen to lift or do resistance training for at least 15 minutes at least three times a week.
There’s no need to stop weight training during pregnancy, and in fact, exercise can help the muscles stay strong and keep the ligaments flexible, which can ease the labor process. Just make sure you consult your doctor and gain her approval for every aspect of your workout plan.
The Senior Years
Weight training can be an excellent way to build and maintain bone health throughout life. This becomes especially valuable as we age and the calcium required by our bodies is sometimes leached away from our bones. Along with a healthy diet, an exercise routine with a weight training component can help ward off osteoporosis and other bone health issues.