Many people who are just getting into the training lifestyle tend to find themselves drawn to the safety of cardio machines.
Weight training has so many benefits to offer, it should be a MUST for both genders! However, misinformation, myths, and false beliefs mean that many women can find convincing reasons not to lift weights. Those reasons include:
- A fear of developing big muscles (you won't)
- The belief that cardio is best for fat burning and weight control (it isn’t)
- The worry that muscle turns into fat (it won’t)
- The idea that only men know how to weight train properly (they don’t)
- The belief that weight training is dangerous (it shouldn’t be)
The truth is that weight training is incredibly beneficial, and some of those benefits are even more important for women. That’s not to say that yoga, Pilates, group exercise classes, and cardio are NOT beneficial – of course they are. It’s just that weight training is equally beneficial and should be included in your workout routine.
Here are FIVE convincing reasons for including weight training in your fitness program.
1. Increased bone mass
Bone mass peaks in your mid to late 30s, and starts to decline from there. This decline happens to both genders, but is more pronounced in women. This bone loss, called osteopenia, can deteriorate into osteoporosis, a medical condition characterised by brittle bones that are prone to fracture. Ironically, the bones most affected are the ones you’ll land on in a fall – your wrists, your hips, or your spine.
The rate of bone density decline can be slowed, stopped, or even reversed with weight training. Exercises that load the hips and spine are especially valuable. Weight training is the most effective way to overload and strengthen your bones, reducing the risk of osteoporosis later in life.
2. Better fat burning
Most of the population is overweight or obese, and those who exercise regularly do so for weight control. Most of the time this means cardio, cardio, and more cardio. Cardio DOES burn calories while you do it, but as soon as you are done, your metabolism returns to normal very quickly. This means that to control your weight, you will need to cardio almost every day.
In contrast, weight training burns calories not only while you are doing it, but also for several hours afterward because of something called the after-burn effect. Weight training raises lactic acid levels, and to clear that lactic acid, your body has to work overtime to clear it away once your workout is done. This uses a lot of energy and that energy is measured in calories.
In addition, weight training preserves and even builds muscle mass - muscle mass uses calories. The more muscle you have, the more calories you’ll burn 24/7 – yes, even while you are sleeping!
3. Target problem areas
While there is no such thing as spot reduction, it is possible to spot strengthen your body to improve problem areas. It’s a common misconception that performing a high volume of exercise for a certain part of your body will whittle away fat, but it IS possible to target and strengthen areas of your body to improve how they look and feel.
If you are unhappy about the shape of your butt, you can do glute exercises and if you’re worried about the firmness of your upper arms, you can do exercises specifically for that. Losing fat is largely a question of diet but with weight training on your side, you can target the underlying muscles with laser-like precision.
4. Improved strength
Lifting weights makes you stronger – and that’s kinda the point of doing it. But why do you need to be stronger? Strength makes everythingyou do easier. EVERYTHING! From walking to sitting, to carrying groceries, to picking up your kids, to playing sport. The stronger you are, the easier everyday activities are.
Traditionally, trainers limited their female clients to extremely light weights never lifting more than 4 pounds. That’s great, but what happens when you need to lift something heavy? You need to lift, and lift heavy - the stronger you are, the more physically capable you become. From opening jars of peanut butter to changing a wheel on your car, strength makes everything easier, and makes your body more toned.
5. Improved self-confidence
Weight training doesn’t just make you stronger physically, it makes you stronger mentally too. Knowing that you are physically capable of things that many men can’t do will give your self-confidence a real boost. A tough workout can leave you feeling tired, but also remind you of what you can achieve when you put your mind to it.
Changing and shaping your body with weights is also rewarding and empowering in equal measure!