6 Reasons Why Women Should Lift Weights
1. Muscle torches fat
It's a common myth in the realm of fitness that cardio burns more fat than lifting weights. Like most women, I used to live and breathe cardio, pounding the pavement on almost a daily basis and subjecting myself to brutal spin classes. Whilst it might be true that you burn more calories during a cardio workout than the same amount of time spent weight training, when you build muscle, reactions occur at a cellular level that cause your resting metabolic rate to increase and your body to burn more calories. Studies have also shown the inverse to be true with excessive amounts of cardio actually decreasing your resting metabolic rate! The bottom-line, the more muscle you build, the more calories your body will naturally burn each day, even during rest.
Photo credit Amy Strzalko
2. Improve bone density
According to research presented in the American Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, osteoporosis and osteopenia (lower than normal bone density considered a precursor to osteoporosis) are becoming increasingly more common in the adult female population. Osteoporosis is a disease whereby decreased bone strength greatly increases the risk of broken bones, most commonly backbones, forearms & the hip.
Physical activity has a positive effect on bone mineral density as your muscles tug on your bones they cause bone cells to react and create new bone cells. Studies have shown that weight training in particular provides an important stimuli and load, leading to improvements in bone maintenance & overall health.
3. Increase Core Stability & Balance
Your skeleton provides a sturdy framework of support for your body. Skeletal muscle attaches to our bones & can pull on this framework causing our bodies to move out of alignment. Misalignment creates poor posture and dysfunctional movement, resulting in pain and eventually injury. Full range of motion weight training strengthens your muscles and connective tissues helping to improve your posture and keep your joints healthy. Using free weights or participating in exercise like CrossFit effectively trains and strengthens your core & hips helping to maintain good postural alignment as well as improving your balance & coordination.
If you want to stay independent & pain free well in to later life then you’d better pick up some dumbbells!
4. You’ll get leaner
Yes you heard me right! Despite the popular misconception that strength training will make you bulky, you are much more likely to drop a dress size or two than go up. I have personally experienced this first-hand, take a look at my transformations over the years since moving away from a cardio focused training regimen. After losing the extra fat I’d piled on earlier this year, my body weight is now slowly starting to increase again as I get stronger. I’m still down two dress sizes but my body is so much more shapely & those skinny jeans are fitting better than ever now!
Science will back me up on this one too. Women produce only 5-10% of the amount of testosterone that men do – the hormone that promotes muscle growth & fat loss - so in order for a woman to really bulk up it would require hours spent in the gym every day over the course of a long period of time and consuming a huge amount of calories.
Photo credit Amy Strzalko
5. Improve Flexibility
A resistance-training program that utilizes full range of motion movements, like CrossFit, has actually been shown to improve flexibility just as well as a typical static stretching routine. Full range of motion promotes functional movement so that you can go about your day-to-day life safely, thereby minimizing the risk of injury.
Photo credit Amy Strzalko
6. You’ll feel empowered
Strong in body and strong in mind. There’s evidence to suggest that they really do go hand in hand. Developing strength in the gym helps change your mindset. As you challenge yourself and accomplish things you never thought you would be able to do, your confidence and self-esteem will grow and naturally seep into other areas of your life.
Physical activity recommendations for healthy adults by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), includes a strength training program a minimum of two times a week with three being optimal. If you’re not currently doing any form of resistance training or weight lifting and want to know how to get started safely, contact Roz via her website to discuss programming.
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1. ACSM information on Resistance Training for Health & Fitness
2. Kelley, G. A., Kelley, K. S., & Tran, Z. V. (2001). Resistance training and bone mineral density in women: a meta-analysis of controlled trials. American journal of physical medicine & rehabilitation, 80(1), 65-77.
3. Wang, L., Mascher, H., Psilander, N., Blomstrand, E., & Sahlin, K. (2011). Resistance exercise enhances the molecular signaling of mitochondrial biogenesis induced by endurance exercise in human skeletal muscle. Journal of applied physiology, 111(5), 1335-1344.