8 Reasons Why Women Should Lift Weights
Whether your reason for starting an exercise regimen is weight loss, muscle building or simply becoming healthier, incorporating both weight training and cardio routines into your weekly workouts is going to help ensure optimal results, which you can read more about that in Weight Training VS Cardio for Optimal Fat Loss. Yet even with this little fact known, why are so many women still afraid of the picking up the dumbbells?!
Too many women have the misconception that lifting weights is going to leave them with bulging biceps or thunderous thigh muscles, which is what no woman wants. Yet this doesn’t mean you should skip the weight room; according to an article Are You Lifting Enough Weight, “lifting heavy weight will NOT make you huge – you simply don’t have the testosterone levels to build big muscles. Lifting heavy weights WILL help you lose fat.”
As stated earlier, we need both cardio and weight training for optimal results. Lifting weights is actually going to give you surprising perks that cardio alone won’t be able to do. In fact, according to an article 8 Reasons Why Women Should Lift Weights from LiveStrong.com, “research shows that just two strength-training sessions a week can help you burn more fat, sculpt lean muscles, feel more energized, and so much more.”
So women, fear the dumbbell no more. Here are LiveStrong’s 8 benefits to women lifting weights:
- Burn More Calories: while this may be confusing to some because although during a 30-minute exercise regimen, cardio will burn more calories than strength training, you will actually burn more calories overall with lifting weights. This is due to the fact “it takes more energy (calories) for your body to maintain muscle cells than it does fat cells.” So by adding muscle through strength training you’ll boost your metabolism even when you are at rest, and “turn your body into a more efficient fat-burning machine.”
- Maintain Muscle and Remain Tightly Packed. According to the previously mentioned LiveStrong article, “research shows that between the ages of 30 and 70, women lose an average of 22 percent of their total muscle.” Now if that isn’t depressing enough ladies, they also mentioned that the lost muscle is filled with fat. “One pound of fat takes up 18 percent more space than one pound of muscle.” So even if the number on the scale hasn’t budged, or has even gone down, your pant size is likely to go up due to the fact that fat replacing the muscle is taking up more space. So the best way to ensure this doesn’t happen, and you remain “tightly packed” is by always incorporating strength training into your workout regimen, even as you age. The suggested amount is two to three total-body strength training workouts a week for about 30 minutes each session. This is on top of your four days of cardiovascular exercise. You can either alternate these workouts or incorporate them into one such as combining weights on the treadmill.
- Build Stronger Bones. When you strength train and lift weights you are using your muscles, which in turn pulls on the tendons connecting those muscles to the bones, which in turn pulls on the bones. According to the LiveStrong article, when you pull on your bones through lifting weights you are adding stress to your bones, making them stronger. Increasing the strength of your bones is a surefire way to beat osteoporosis.
- Improved Cardiovascular System. Although cardiovascular exercise improves just that, your cardiovascular as you can read more about here, weight lifting has been shown to protect your heart as well. As your muscles are contracting during weight lifting this is causing your blood to be pushed back up to the heart, the heart then recirculates the oxygenated blood back to the working muscles. This circulatory event “keeps the cardiovascular system in better working order.” Plus, even while you are at rest, your muscles are causing a lesser degree of this same event, so the higher your muscle mass the greater the effect on your heart.
- Improved Memory. LiveStrong’s article suggests muscles may strengthen not only your body, but your brain as well. “According to a new study published in the May 2012 issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings, a combination of mentally stimulating activities like using a computer and exercise (which included walking and other cardio as well as strength training and sports activities) helped protect brain functioning in older adults.” It stated that the combo of mentally stimulating activities with moderate exercise decreases the risk of memory loss more than either one activity on its own.
- Improve Happiness and Become Less Stressed. Now we’ve all heard of the famous “runner’s high”, yet now weight training has been shown to also have “the power to induce pleasure by releasing endorphins, the ‘feel-good’ chemical in your brain. In fact one Australian study actually found that those who did three strength workouts a week reported to have an 18 percent drop in their depression after just 10 weeks. Exercise also been shown to relieve anxiety and help to reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
- Reduced Risk of Diabetes. Lifting weights has been shown to improve the way your body processes sugar, which can help to prevent diabetes or improve your quality of life if you have already been diagnosed with diabetes. They say it may even work as well as diabetes drugs when mixed with cardio, “the combination of strength training and aerobic exercise may be even more beneficial than drugs.”
- Improved Balance. By building your muscles you are less likely to lose balance as to say when you are trying to put a sock on one foot while standing on the other. You use fast-twitch fibers when strength training and lifting weights, while you only use slow-twitch fibers when doing aerobic exercises. These fast-twitch fibers are the ones that “assist you in speed and power movements and contract quickly and with sufficient force to catch yourself when you lose your balance. Resistance training maintains the ability of these fibers to activate.”
So as you can see ladies, lifting weights has been proven to have so many benefits that cardio alone cannot give you. Don’t be afraid of bulking up and looking like a man, as women are not naturally made to be able to do this. In reality, lifting weights can actually aid in weight loss and give you a leaner, toner look.
About the Author
Jentry Nielsen is a college student passionate about health and fitness, she writes many article pertaining to both.