Just because you are not eager to build insanely big and rock-solid biceps like the muscle heads that you see at the gym, it doesn’t mean you should shun the weight room. Lifting weights is so much more than just building muscle – it gives you an edge over belly fat, heart disease, cancer, and stress. Plus, it is the most effective way there is to look hot in a bikini. And what more could you ask from a hobby? Yet, women all over the world are still hesitant about it.
I’m positive that you too have heard all the worst-case scenarios and the horror stories: “lifting weights makes women manly and bulky, it’s bad for your joints, you’ll gain more pounds, once you gain muscle – you can’t stop lifting because it will soon turn to fat…” and similar boring excuses. I promise you that it’s all BS that just feeds into stereotypes that keep way too many women from experiencing the profound benefits of weightlifting.
Maybe you have briefly thought about the idea of working out. What’s more, maybe you have even bought new pieces of activewear and picked up a dumbbell, but I bet that every time you hit the iron – you’ve felt insecure and little fearful as to whether you’re doing it right and if you’re going to hurt yourself. Well, it’s high time you put that unreasonable fear and uncertainty to bed.
Stop paying attention to all the silly talks about women lifting weights – strength training does none of those terrifying things that many women believe. What it really does though is help you become a better version of yourself and live in a healthier and stronger body. Now let’s take a look at all the benefits of weight training for your health, and why you shouldn’t go another day without raising the bar. Literally.
Lose More Flab
If you thought that cardio is the key to blasting belly fat, think again. Sure, 20 min of it is a must at the end of each workout, but cardio alone won’t help you sculpt the curvy body you’ve been craving your entire life. On the other hand, research has shown that doing a full-body workout with just three big-muscle moves, raises the metabolism for 39 hours afterwards.
Plus, this helps you burn more calories from stored fat. Consider this: by doing a circuit of eight moves (which should take you about eight minutes), you can burn 160-230 calories. If you’re doing cardio, however, you need to be running at a 10-mile-per-hour pace for the same duration in order to lose this approximate amount of calories. Now do your math and determine what’s worth your time.
Furthermore, after working out for a couple of weeks, you will see noticeable changes in your strength and endurance. When your body has more lean muscle mass, it uses calories more efficiently. Sitting burns fewer calories than standing; standing burns fewer than walking, and walking burns fewer than strength training.
So yes, it’s pretty simple math – the more muscle contractions you experience during a day, the more calories you'll burn. Therefore, if you have more lean muscle mass, you'll have more muscles to contract, which means you will burn more calories.
Women are too often torn between what they’ve read in some fitness magazine, on some Zumba queen’s blog, what their incompetent boyfriend says, and society’s conflicting expectations of how should a woman look like. Thus, it comes as no surprise that many of them can’t decide between doing aerobics, yoga, lifting weights or wasting hours on end on the treadmill.
Too often, women end up combining elements of all these practices just to wind up looking even worse than they did when they first set out on the pursuit of a smoking body. Moreover, this oftentimes results in women making their body “skinny fat” – a cruel paradoxical state when they appear to be skinny in clothes, but they actually have a much higher percentage of body fat than they did before because they lost muscle instead of fat.
If you're doing just cardio you will be losing both fat and muscle, which means, you can lose your lovely curves as well. Strength training can help create and sustain them. In this case, consistency is crucial. Progressive weight lifting is the only way to build lean mass and the body shape you desire.
Stronger Bones and Heart
As we grow older, we are all at risk of losing bone and muscle mass. For instance, postmenopausal women have a greater risk for osteoporosis because their body no longer secretes estrogen. Weight lifting is your ally in this battle. A study conducted at McMaster University found that after a year of resistance training, postmenopausal women increased their spinal bone mass by 9%.
Strength training also helps straighten your shoulders, back and, core, helping you maintain a good posture so you can look better and stand taller. This ultimately results in no lower back pain which is a major productivity killer.
Furthermore, strength training often gets overlooked for its importance in improving cardiovascular health. It can significantly improve the crucial factors that affect your heart health, such as blood pressure, cardiovascular function, weight control, coronary risk factors, muscular strength and endurance, and metabolism. Resistance training also leads to a longer-lasting drop in blood pressure (as much as 20%) after exercise, when compared to aerobic exercise.
A Better State of Mind
Besides the numerous health benefits of weight training and the fact that it is the single most effective way to sculpt a rocking body, strength training has some above-the-neck-benefits as well. For starters, stress relief is one of the most common mental benefits because working out increases the concentration of norepinephrine – a chemical which moderates the brain’s response to stress.
Plus, this also releases endorphins, which are known to boost happiness and euphoria. Studies have shown that working out can even help the clinically depressed. You don’t have to be the gym rat type - all you need is working out for 30 minutes a day, a few times a week, in order to improve your overall mood.
It is very obvious that strength training can boost your self-esteem and improve the perception that you have of yourself. And how wouldn’t it – you will look better, feel better and walk with more confidence! Let’s not neglect the fact that various studies have shown that exercising can create new brain cells (neurogenesis) and improve overall brain performance. The brain-derived protein, also known as BDNF is believed to help with decision making, learning, and higher thinking. Smarty (sweat) pants, indeed.
Quality Sleep Leads to Higher Productivity
Have you ever hit the hay after an extensive workout session or a long run? No wonder - for some people having a moderate workout can have the same effect of a sleeping pill, even for those struggling with insomnia. Being active 5-6 hours before going to bed increases the core temperature of the body. After a few hours, the body temperature goes back to normal and it signals the body that it is time to sleep.
Furthermore, getting enough z’s at night is tightly related to the level of your productivity the following day. Getting at least 6.5 hours of sleep every night is essential for your good mood and top performance. Also, research has shown that working out can get your creative juices flowing about two hours afterwards, which can be of huge benefit for your success. So, next time you need a burst of some creative thinking, go work up a sweat to refresh your body and brain.
Bottom line is, the benefits of weight training go beyond building muscle. Improving your overall health, gaining self-confidence, getting out of a funk, and even thinking smarter should be reasons enough for you to stop being the couch potato you know you are and dare to live your best life!