There are many misconceptions when it comes to women lifting weights: lifting heavy weights makes women bulky, it’s dangerous, and once you have muscle, you can’t stop lifting or it will all turn to fat….
In reality, strength training offers numerous benefits, allowing you to live in a healthier, stronger body. Cardiovascular exercises alone will not help you achieve this.
Here are 7 reasons why women should consider incorporating a strength training program to their fitness regime.
1) MORE EFFECTIVE FAT LOSS
Although many people consider weightlifting only a means to add size, in comparison to cardiovascular exercise, resistance training is actually more effective in burning calories.
The huge advantage to weight training is your body’s ability to burn fat during and after exercise.
After a heavy bought of strength training, you continue to consume additional oxygen in the hours and even days that follow. When your body uses more oxygen, it requires more caloric expenditure and an increased metabolic rate.
2) MORE MUSCLE, MORE CALORIE EXPENDITURE
As you increase strength and lean muscle mass, your body uses calories more efficiently. Sitting burns fewer calories than standing; standing burns fewer than walking, and walking burns fewer than strength training.
The more muscle contractions you experience during a day, the more calories you’ll burn. If you have more lean muscle mass, you’ll have more muscle contractions and thus burn more calories.
3) QUALITY SLEEP
Strength training greatly improves sleep quality, aiding in your ability to fall asleep faster, sleep deeper, and wake less often during the night.
A study published in the International SportMed Journal suggests that morning resistance training or high intensity training greatly affects the quality of sleep and lengthens the time of sleep the night after training. 1
4) INCREASED ENERGY
As noted above, resistance training causes an increase in energy expenditure hours after you train. A study published by the National Institute of Health suggests that the chronic increase in energy expenditure, even after a minimal resistance training session, may favorably effect energy balance and fat oxidation.2Rather than reaching for that early afternoon cup of coffee, grab a barbell.
5) HEART HEALTH
Resistance training can reduce your risk of heart disease and was approved as a healthy form of exercise for those at risk from the American Heart Association. A study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning found that those who lift weights are less likely have heart disease risk factors such as a large waist circumference, high triglycerides, elevated blood pressure, and elevated glucose levels.3
6) BONE HEALTH
As you age, you are at risk of losing both bone and muscle mass. Postmenopausal women are at a greater risk for osteoporosis because the body no longer produces estrogen. A study conducted at McMaster University found that after a year of resistance training, postmenopausal women increased spinal bone mass by 9 percent.5 The earlier you begin weightlifting, the greater chance you have to maintain bone health later in life.
7) STRESS RELIEF
Exercise in general is a great way to manage stress. Researchers have consistently found that those who regularly strength train tend to manage stress better and experience fewer adverse reactions to stressful situations as those who do not exercise.6
Davis, K. (2014, May 2). 8 Reasons Women Should Lift. Retrieved from: http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/8-reasons-women-should-lift-weights.html