I hear it all the time from girl friends, I don’t wan’t to lift because I will look like a man, I’ll gain weight and it’s dangerous….blah, blah, blah. It’s not true. And here are 10 reasons why women should be in the gym lifting heavy stuff.
1. Burns More Fat
Strength training allows your body to burn fat not only during exercise but after you are done lifting as well. After an intense strength training session your body continues to consume additional oxygen for hours and even days after your workout, also known as post-exercise oxygen consumption. A study from the University of Alabama in Birmingham showed that dieters who lifted heavy weights lost the same amount of weight as dieters who did just cardio, but the dieters who lifted weights lost more fat. In fact, the dieters who did just cardio, lost a lot of muscle. Why would anyone want to LOSE muscle? (See reason 2.)
2. More Muscle = More Calories Burned
1 pound of muscle burns seven to 10 calories per day, while 1 pound of fat burns only 2 to 3 calories, according to the American Council on Exercise. This may not sound like a lot but if you think about it, it adds up over time, especially if you put on more than just one pound of muscle. The more muscle you have the more you increase your resting metabolic rate, which is the amount of energy you need to stay alive while your body is at rest. This is why you are able to burn calories even while you sleep.
3. Increases Bone Health
It’s no secret that post-menopausal women have a significant risk for Osteoporosis because their bodies stop secreting estrogen. Studies found that women who weight train can decrease their risks, and the sooner you start, the better your chances are of maintaining bone health later in life. According to a study at McMaster University, postmenopausal women increased spinal bone mass by 9 percent after one year of weight training.
4. Builds Strength
Lifting lighter weights for more reps is great, but instead of increasing your strength, it will improve muscle endurance. The key to getting stronger is putting more weight on the bar. After a few weeks of lifting and increasing your weights, you will be amazed at how much stronger you become over time. There will be no more having to call your boyfriend to open up the pickle jar.
5. It’s Empowering
This goes along with the pickle jar situation. Don’t you want to be able to do things on your own that people think you aren’t capable of just because you are a girl? There is something about saying,”No sir, I don’t need help carrying this giant heavy box to my car,” that just makes you feel good. Or just simply knowing you can squat more than a typical 18-year old boy. Lifting does more than just improve your physical appearance it can be a huge self-esteem booster as well. In addition weight lifting is the type of exercise format where you can actually see results and watching your numbers go up week after week is a rewarding feeling as well.
6.Creates Hot Bodies
The idea that lifting will make you look like a guy is just silly. Unless you are taking anabolic steroids, trust me girl, you are never going to get huge. When you just do cardio, you lose weight in the form of both fat and muscle tissue but strength training can hep you create those feminine curves and toned muscles by adding strong muscle and losing fat. Yes, it’s true you may get to the point where you gain weight after you have slimmed down to a point where you have very little body fat and are primarily adding muscle mass. But, there are plenty of before and after photos out there where you can see that the number on the scale does not matter. For example, a 135 pound girl can look significantly smaller than she did when she weighed 10 pounds lighter. Think about it, what would you rather be, 150 pounds of fat or 150 pounds of muscle? The number on the scale can be deceiving.
7. Helps You Lose The Belly Pooch
Who doesn’t want a flat stomach? Pumping iron can help you blast the belly fat which is a problem area for a lot of women. According to a study from the University of Alabama, women who lifted weights lost more intra-abdominal fat than those who just did cardio.
8. Prevents Injury
Another fear I hear often from friends who are scared of lifting weights is, the fear of getting injured. Weight lifting like any other skill or sport requires technique and correct form to achieve desired results. As long as you are using correct form and a weight that you are comfortable with, you have nothing to worry about. In fact, weight lifting actually helps prevent injury by building the muscles around joints which helps you maintain a strong frame. If you are new to weight lifting, be sure to consult a doctor before you begin, seek the help of a trainer and/or watch instructional videos online to ensure you are using correct form.
9. Improves Heart Health
Heart disease is the number one killer of both men and women today and lifting weights can help prevent it. A study in the journal of Strength and Conditioning found that those who lift weights are less likely to have heart disease risk factors such as a large waist circumference, elevated blood pressure and and glucose levels.
10. Stress Relief
Let’s face it, everyone has stress at least every once in a while. Some suffer from it daily. Stress is no joke and it can cause your cells to age faster leading to lower immunity levels and diseases. But did you know exercise, including weight lifting, can reduce stress levels? Scientists at the University of California San Francisco reported in May 2010 that as little as 42 minutes of exercise over three days could protect cells from premature aging.
When I think about stress and exercise my mind goes right to this quote from Elle Woods in Legally Blonde:
Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands, they just don’t. – Elle Woods
So true, we can always rely on Elle Woods for great advice! But seriously ladies, don’t be afraid to get in the gym and move around some heavy weights. It may seem intimidating and the non-cardio side of the gym may be over run by dudes, but don’t be scared because you deserve to be in there just as much as they do! And I’m not saying throw your cardio out the window but what I am suggesting is that you add weight training into your workout routine. I can tell you from experience, you will feel a lot better if you just give it a chance and you will like the changes in your body.
Maybe it’s just me but I think this me:
Looks a lot better than this me:
Obviously these are photos of me pole vaulting, but I don’t just see a stronger and faster athlete but I also see a girl that looks a lot healthier. There is such thing as being too skinny and in high school before I really started lifting heavier weights and paying more attention to my diet, I was definitely too skinny. Not only did getting into resistance training make me a better athlete but it made me a healthier person.
I would love to hear what you think about this and if you have any other benefits of weight lifting you have experienced that I did not mention. So feel free to leave a comment on here or on my Facebook page or Twitter!
XOXO – Abbey
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*****I am not a doctor. This is all based on research, studies and personal experience. Please consult a doctor before beginning a weight training program.*****