Can Resistance Training Help PCOS?

Physical activity provides us with a whole host of benefits, both physical and psychological. Exercising helps with weight management, joint and bone health, allows you to gain strength and build muscle. As well as improving high-density lipoprotein (‘good’ cholesterol), reducing unhealthy triglycerides, regulating blood glucose levels, increasing endorphins and reducing stress and anxiety levels.


Exercising is a key component when it comes to managing your PCOS and living a healthy lifestyle. Many women who suffer from PCOS are also insulin resistant, exercise allows you to lower your blood sugar levels. Implementing any type of moderate exercise, such as walking, can be beneficial when it comes to managing your insulin levels. Exercise makes your heart beat a little faster causing your muscles to use more glucose. As a result, over time your blood sugar levels begin to lower and also makes the insulin in your body work better.


Several studies have discovered many benefits to resistance training for PCOS.


Let's Talk about Resistance Training


Resistance training is any type of exercise that causes the muscles to contract, which, will in turn, result in increased strength, muscle mass and endurance. After reading that, you are most likely put off and are thinking well this isn't for me. You are probably thinking why would I start strength training, I don't want to get 'bulky', right? Well, this is where you are wrong. Weight training will not make you bulky. Sure women with PCOS do have an elevated level of testosterone, however, it is still not enough to build muscle like men.


A strength training program will allow you to keep testing yourself. Keep challenging yourself in order to ensure your muscles continue to grow and become stronger.


Why you should start Resistance Training


Reduces levels of depression and anxiety. Women with PCOS have higher rates of anxiety and depression. A study found that women with PCOS experienced significantly lower levels of depression and anxiety after 16 weeks of physical resistance training.


Reduces testosterone and SHBG levels. Research results indicated resistance training reduced the levels of testosterone in women with PCOS. This information contradicts what you may have believed. Women with PCOS have excess levels of androgens, therefore implementing weight training into your exercise routine will not elevate your testosterone levels even more, it can actually help lower them.


Strength training reduces insulin resistance. A study in Diabetes Care Association Journal found that a reduction in abdominal subcutaneous,  visceral AT and an increase in muscle density improve insulin sensitivity. reducing type 2 diabetes. Research believes that more muscle mass can effectively increase glucose storage, facilitate glucose clearance from the circulation, and reduce the amount of insulin required to maintain a normal glucose tolerance. Therefore, if you suffer from insulin resistance implementing weight training can be beneficial.


Helps with weight management. Studies have shown the benefits progressive resistance training has on our bodies and our weight. Results show PRT can significantly increased BMI, lean mass, fat-free mass and lower body strength while reducing waist circumference. Having more muscle mass helps you burn more calories. The more muscle you have the more calories you burn at rest.


Lowers LDL Cholesterol. Resistance training has shown to improve LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol). Furthermore, a study found that regular weight training might improve HDL function and protect against heart disease, even in those who remain overweight.


Resistance training is a great way to build confidence and self-esteem. As you build muscle, sculpt your body and gain strength you start to build confidence. Exercising and being able to lift heavy weights is a real confidence booster and very empowering.


Give it a Go!


Now that you know the benefits to resistance training and PCOS try and give it a go. Do not be embarrassed if you tink you are doing something wrong. Start with light weights and then gradually increase the weight. I can guarantee once you start you will love it and you will not stop. You will be addicted to the changes, you will not only notice changes to your physical appearance, your psychological state of mind, but also physiological.




Lara LA, Ramos FK, Kogure GS, Costa RS, Silva de Sá MF, Ferriani RA, dos Reis RM. (2015). Impact of Physical Resistance Training on the Sexual Function of Women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. J Sex Med. Available from: . 2(7):1584-90. Access date: 10 February 2017.


Cuff, DJ., Meneilly, GS., Martin, A., Ignaszewski, A., Tildesley. HD., Frohlich, JJ. (2003). Effective Exercise Modality to Reduce Insulin Resistance in Women With Type 2 Diabetes. Diabetes Care Association Journal. [Accessed 11 February 2017].


Miranda-Furtado, CL., Picchi Ramos, FK., GS Kogure, Santana-Lemos BA., Ferriani RA., Calado RT.,   dos Reis RM.(2016). A Nonrandomized Trial of Progressive Resistance Training Intervention in Women With Polycystic Ovary Syndrome and Its Implications in Telomere Content. Reproductive Sciences. Available from: . 23(5) 644-654. [Accessed 10 February 2017].

Ramos, FKP., Lara, ALS., Kogure, GS., Silva, RC., Ferriani, RA., Sá, MFS ., Reis, RM. (2016). Quality of Life in Women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome after a Program of Resistance Exercise Training. Division of Human Reproduction, Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics. Available from: . 38(7).  [Accessed 11 February 2017].


Mann, S., Beedie, C. and Jimenez, A. (2014). Differential Effects of Aerobic Exercise, Resistance Training and Combined Exercise Modalities on Cholesterol and the Lipid Profile: Review, Synthesis and Recommendations. Sports Med. Available from: . 44(2): 211–221. [Accessed 11 February 2017].


(2013). When it comes to the good cholesterol, fitness trumps weight. American Physiological Society (APS). Available from:


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