7 reasons why women must lift weights
Many times I see women wondering whether they should lift weights, and what the scientific reasoning is behind lifting heavy weights. A woman squatting a 60kg barbell and doing bicep curls with a 8-10kg dumbbell in each hand must actually be preparing for a fitness model competition?! Is this going to make her look too ‘bulky’, muscular or even manly? The good news to all my ladies who are desperately trying to lose weight, get leaner for the summer and get fitter is that the answer is NOOOOOOO!
Weight lifting two to three times a week can make you lose about 3% of body fat in just 10 weeks.
Here are the TOP 7 reasons why you should start lifting weights now
1. You will actually lose body fat:
The truth is strength training helps reduce body fat and increase lean weight. These changes may result in a slight increase in overall weight, since lean body mass weighs more than fat. However, by increasing your muscle mass you will also increase your metabolism which means that almost all the calories that you consume, through eating the right foods, will be used to nourish your muscles and there will be no need for your body to store excess food as fat. In addition, your body will burn calories for a minimum of 3 hours after your training even when you are not exercising. This is the reason why you don’t get a toned figure after spending hours on a treadmill every day — you are not building any muscles!
2. You will get stronger not bulky or manly
One of the main reasons why women would find it very hard to bulk up and get as big and muscular as men is that the hormonal balance in a woman’s body is different. Testosterone is a major factor in muscle growth and typically women’s natural testosterone levels are 10 – 30% of those of men. Instead the hormone that is equivalent to testosterone in a woman’s body is oestrogen’s. Oestrogen’s help women develop the curvy shape and typically the presence of oestrogen is not known to result in a gain in size from strength training. On average, women have 10 to 30 times less of the hormones that cause muscle hypertrophy. This is one of the main reasons why as a woman you will not end up with huge muscles, but instead the correct weight training regime will help you develop muscle tone and definition.
3. Your metabolism will speed up
As we get older our metabolism slows down and you will start noticing that losing weight is getting more difficult and slower year by year. One of the ‘tricks’ to improve your metabolism is again strength training. Lifting weights raises your metabolism and your body will end up burning calories many hours after your workout. Again, this is because lifting strains your muscles so much, that they need extra time to recover and for recovery your body will be using all the calories from the food you eat. However, that does not mean you should indulge yourself in a fast food restaurant straight after training!
4. “I am scared that I will hurt myself doing weights”
Thanks to my experience as a personal trainer and working closely with women of any age, I have realised that another ‘excuse’ why woman avoid lifting weights and doing any strength training is the lack of knowledge and fear of getting injured. You can counter this by taking it slower and starting with lighter weights, but still making sure that you challenge your muscles to the maximum and reach the ‘burning pain’ caused by the release of lactic acid. Pushing yourself to the limit and feeling the pain may feel scary especially if you are not used to challenging yourself, however in order to get results, you need to lift as much weight as possible (while maintaining the correct form and technique) until you fatigue your muscles to the maximum. Believe me that lifting light dumbbells won’t deliver the much desired result of a lean and toned figure.
5. Improve your bone density and prevent from getting osteoporosis
Weight training also strengthens your bones. Regular weight lifting increases bone density, which reduces the risk of fracture and osteoporosis. Studies show that adults over the age 80 who do weight-bearing programs can significantly increase bone density. Exercise is the investment into your life!
Osteoporosis is MUCH MORE common in women than in men, primarily due to the hormonal cycle. Based on facts women are 4x more likely to develop and suffer from osteoporosis than men, and can lose up to 20% of their bone mass during the first 5-7 years following menopause.
6. Improves posture
The way you sit, stand and walk are influenced by the health of a network of neck, shoulder, back, hips and abdominal muscles. If those muscles are stronger, you can stand and sit straighter and feel more comfortable. Furthermore you will look taller and appear to be more confident with a guarantee that better posture also preserves the spine and reduces lower back pain.
7. You’ll reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes
Putting it all in practise when you make your muscles stronger, you make your body stronger, which helps your body fight with all the modern diseases such as diabetes, heart diseases, osteoporosis, stress etc. Lifting weights get your heart rate up and strength training can simultaneously engage both the muscular and the cardiovascular system. What you should also know is that muscles help remove glucose and triglycerides from the blood stream, which reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes as well as hardening of the arteries. Therefore, lifting weights will help your body to process sugar more efficiently and reduce the risk of diabetes.
Women who lift weights and start doing proper strength training will result in:
– a change in their overall body composition to a more feminine and sexier figure
– loss of unwanted body fat and a leaner physiques
– speeding up their metabolism and burning more calories even while not exercising
– improvements in their posture and looking more confident
– the ability to cope easily with daily task of the day including stress
– living longer because their body will be healthier from inside & out