Many women believe that the only way to lose weight is to do cardiovascular (aerobic exercise). So they jog or take aerobics classes five times a week. Eventually, though, they notice that while their bodies are a little smaller, there are still problem areas hard to combat.
Aerobic exercise is important for good health, but it’s only half of the equation. For optimal fitness, longevity, and a lean body, weight training is essential. If you lifting weights because you’re afraid of getting “bulky,” then you’re missing out on one of the best fat-burning methods around.
10 Benefits of Strength Training for Women
When you’re weight training, you shouldn’t rely exclusively on the scale to gauge your progress. You can use a body fat tester or a tape measure to track how many inches you’re losing.
The size of your body will shrink as you shed fat and build muscle, but your weight may not change as dramatically as you expect. Besides, what’s more important, the number on the scale or how you look in your selfies?
If you’re still not convinced that you need to lift weights, here are 10 reasons you should reconsider.
Researchers at Tufts University found that when overweight women lifted heavy weights twice a week, they lost an average of 14.6 pounds of fat and gained 1.4 pounds of muscle.
The control group, women who dieted but didn’t lift weights, lost only 9.2 pounds of fat and gained no muscle.
When you do an intense weight-training program, your metabolism stays elevated and you continue to burn fat for several hours afterward. During regular cardio exercise, you stop burning fat shortly after the workout.
You may think your genes determine how you look. That’s not necessarily true. Weight training can slim you down, create new curves, and help avoid the “middle-age spread.”
So, no, you won’t bulk up — women don’t have enough muscle-building hormones to gain a lot of mass like men do. If you keep your diet clean and create a calorie deficit, you’ll burn fat.
The less muscle you have, the slower your metabolism will be. As women age, they lose muscle at increasing rates, especially after the age of 40. When you diet without doing resistance training, up to 25 percent of the weight loss may be muscle loss.
Weight training while dieting can help you preserve and even rebuild muscle fibers. The more lean mass you have, the higher your metabolism will be and the more calories you’ll burn all day long.
Lifting weights increases functional fitness, which makes everyday tasks such as carrying children, lifting grocery bags, and picking up heavy suitcases much easier.
According to the Mayo Clinic, regular weight training can make you 50 percent stronger in six months. Being strong is also empowering. Not only does it improve your physical activities, it builds emotional strength by boosting self-esteem and confidence.
It’s been well documented that women need to do weight-bearing exercise to build and maintain bone mass. Just as muscles get stronger and bigger with use, so do bones when they’re made to bear weight.
Stronger bones and increased muscle mass also lead to better flexibility and balance, which is especially important for women as they age.
You’ve probably heard that cardio and low-impact exercises such as yoga help improve mood, and weight lifting has the same effect. The endorphins that are released during aerobic activities are also present during resistance training.
You don’t have to be an athlete to get the sports benefit of weight training. Improved muscle mass and strength will help you in all physical activities, whether it’s bicycling with the family, swimming, golfing, or skiing…whatever sport you enjoy.
Weightlifting improves joint stability and builds stronger ligaments and tendons. Training safely and with proper form can help decrease the likelihood of injuries in your daily life.
It can also improve physical function in people with arthritis. A study conducted at the University of Wales in Bangor, United Kingdom, found that mildly disabled participants who lifted weights for 12 weeks increased the frequency and intensity at which they could work, with less pain and increased range of movement.
More than 480,000 women die from cardiovascular disease each year, making it the number-one killer of women over the age of 25. Most people don’t realize that pumping iron can also keep your heart pumping.
Lifting weights increases your “good” (HDL) cholesterol and decreases your “bad” (LDL) cholesterol. It also lowers your blood pressure. The Journal of the American Medical Association reports that people who do 30 minutes of weight lifting each week have a 23 percent reduced risk of developing heart disease compared to those who don’t lift weights.
In addition to keeping your ticker strong, weight training can improve glucose utilization (the way your body processes sugar) by as much as 23 percent.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 16 weeks of strength training can improve glucose metabolism in a way that is comparable to taking medication. The more lean mass you have, the more efficient your body is at removing glucose from the blood.
So how does one go about making the most of their weight training sessions? Safety and performing the exercises effectively with proper form are key. If weight training is a new endeavor, is routine but has gotten a bit mundane or is an overwhelming concept, hiring a trainer is the best route to go. Training with one of the highly skilled and experienced trainers at Custom Kinetics can surely get you on the right path to reaching your fitness goals and beyond!