One of the most common myths surrounding women’s fitness has to do with weight lifting. It’s shocking how many people still claim that women either shouldn’t lift weights at all or should only do so if they want to bulk up (Bulking would be hard for most women to do without serious supplements due things like low testosterone). Science has proven time and time again that when weight lifting is done right, women not only develop lean, toned bodies but also have an overall increase in physical and mental health. Lifting weights can also help with things like loose skin and building up areas like your butt or arms. (Of course, you may still have loose skin, but if you lower your body fat percentage and gain more muscle it can help the appearance of the loose skin. If you have significant amounts of loose skin, surgery may ultimately be the best option.)
If you’ve been struggling to reach your fitness goals and have hit a plateau or simply want to try something new, don’t write off weight lifting. Instead, consider the following.
- You’ll Burn More Fat
Studies have shown repeatedly that fat loss is increased when subjects participate in weight lifting. Now, fat loss is different than weight loss. You could very well drop weight but actually be losing muscle, which most people of course do not want. When it comes to weight loss, you want to focus on fat loss. A Penn State study in which three groups of people were tested proved this.
Three groups of dieters either didn’t exercise, exercised with cardio only or exercised with cardio and strength training. The two exercise groups both lost an average of the same weight: 21lbs. However, the group that did weight lifting (strength training) lost almost pure fat whereas the cardio group lost both fat and muscle.
Burning fat is more important than simply droppings lbs. Not only will you be healthier but you’ll also look better. You may already know that muscle is more dense than fat but did you know that muscle takes up about 18% less space than fat? Focus on burning fat and you’ll lose that jiggle. Another fun fact is that weight lifting burns more calories after your workout due to muscle regeneration.
- You’ll Lose Weight but Gain Curves
One thing women worry about when losing weight is losing the feminine curves they take pride in. The problem with strict cardio is that your body loses muscle along with fat which can destroy curves and the coveted hourglass figure. Compare female athletes who participate in cardio-heavy sports like marathon running to those who focus more on strength and weight lifting (Think the Williams Sisters). The difference is obvious.
Weight lifting is going to help you destroy fat and replace it with firm, toned muscle that will make any curve-loving woman very pleased with her body.
- You’ll Be Happier and Handle Stress Better
It’s common for men to hit the gym when they feel stressed, not so much with women. However, ladies take note. Exercise in general is an incredibly effective way of preventing stress but weight lifting has shown to decrease stress more than other types of exercise. This has to do with blood pressure. High blood pressure from stress is dangerous. Increased muscle means more balanced blood pressure. Those with more muscular bodies are able to lower the blood pressure much quickly than those with little muscle.
When your body can combat stress you’re undoubtedly going to feel much happier and confident. Speaking of happiness, those who regularly practice weight training weekly are less angry and more content with their lives. This has to do with hormones in the body but also the psychological achievement that comes with weight lifting. Men and women alike tend to feel happier when expressing the strength of their bodies.
Last but not least, when you feel less stress and generally feel happier you’re going to be much more productive. Exercise in general has this effect which means if you have a big project with work coming up, lift some weights.
- You’ll Sleep Better at Night and Have More Energy During the Day
One very common complaint has to do with not being able to sleep or not having enough energy to get through the day. It isn’t hard to see the correlation between popular energy drinks and the lack of energy many Americans struggle with. Insomnia and general restlessness at night are so common they seem to be a normal problem to have.
Those that regularly incorporate weight lifting into their exercise regimen find that they have an easier time falling asleep at night, stay asleep and overall have more restful sleep. Due to having more restful sleep, these people have more energy during the day.
- You May Help to Prevent Serious Health Problems
It’s no secret that those who exercise tend to have less health issues. Some form of regular exercise and body movement is necessary in maintaining a healthy body. Unfortunately some types of strenuous exercise toted as being the healthiest when they can cause more issues in the long run, like extreme cardio and Crossfit workouts for example. Sure, you can participate in both of these example in a healthy fashion, but damage to the joints is common, especially when the muscles supporting you are weak. Regular weight lifting actually prevents this damage.
While cardio like running can wear down bones over years and years, weight lifting can actually help build up the strength of your skeletal system. It’s no secret that bones naturally weaken with age but weight lifting can help keep them as strong as possible. This works towards preventing seriously debilitating problems like osteoarthritis.
You can also boost your cardiovascular system and your heart health through strength training as well. Studies have found that a strength training workout done 3x a week can reduce your chances of heart attack and stroke by 15% and 40% respectively.
- You’ll Live Longer
Everyone wants to increase their longevity as much as possible. When you have higher body strength, you reduce the risk of heart disease.
“In 2000, the AHA’s Committee on Exercise, Rehabilitation, and Prevention, Council on Clinical Cardiology published research in the journal Circulation that concluded that when appropriately prescribed and supervised, resistance training has favorable effects on muscular strength and endurance, cardiovascular function, metabolism, coronary risk factors and psychosocial well-being—all of which are factors that affect heart health. Additionally, researchers found that resistance training was beneficial in the prevention and management of other chronic conditions, such as low-back pain, osteoporosis, obesity and weight control, diabetes, and improved physical function in frail and elderly persons. The paper recommended that all healthy individuals should strength train two to three times a week for overall health and to reduce their risk of chronic disease, including heart disease and its related risk factors.” – Source
There is a direct correlation between body strength and cardiovascular health. In fact, according to the CDC approximately 600,000 people die from some type of cardiovascular disease every year. Around 24.5% of those deaths are African Americans. All in all, heart disease is the leading cause of death in America. Preventing heart disease is main focus to living as long, healthy life as possible.
There is no reason women shouldn’t life weights, despite what some so-called experts without credentials/naysayers say. Strength training isn’t just good for the body but also beneficial to a woman’s wellbeing. Where a cardio workout can leave you exhausted, weight lifting can leave you tired yet feeling accomplished. If you haven’t tried weight lifting for whatever reason, give it a try. You won’t be disappointed or have to worry about getting bulky.