|I get ladies that express this concern to me frequently…. “I really don’t want to lift weights because I don’t want to be bulky and have too much muscle.” Many women fear this “bulky” and avoid the weights altogether. Little do they know that this is a great way to lose weight and to lower body fat. Lifting weights is the best way to build muscle mass and improve our overall fitness, especially as we age. Unfortunately, the number of women who actually do consistent weight training workouts is very low. Most women spend most of their time on cardiovascular exercise. Still, the number of women who actually participate in any formal or consistent weight training workout is still extremely low. Most women who exercise are spending most of their gym time on cardiovascular exercise. For all of you who are avoiding lifting weights for one reason or another, here are 10 reasons you should reconsider.
- You will be physically stronger.
It’s pretty obvious that lifting weights will make you stronger in your workouts, but it will also make you stronger in your day to day life. Doing your everyday chores such as, carrying your groceries, lifting your children and laundry, will become that much easier. Research studies show that moderate weight training can increase a woman’s strength by 30 to 50 percent. It also concludes that women can develop their strength at the same rate as men.
- You will lose body fat!
Studies performed by Wayne Westcott, PhD, from the South Shore YMCA in Quincy, Massachusetts, found that the average woman who strength trains two to three times a week for two months will gain nearly two pounds of muscle and will lose 3.5 pounds of fat. You will burn more calories all day long because as your lean muscle increases so does your resting metabolism. Generally speaking, for each pound of muscle you gain, you burn 35 to 50 more calories each day. WOW, that can really add up!
- You will gain strength without that “bulk”.
When you think of ladies lifting weights, you probably think of those “body builders” you see parading around in their bikinis with muscles popping out everywhere. The reality is that most of these women spend 4-5 hours a day in the gym and use performance enhancing drug (steriods) to maintain that muscly build. So, once you get that “body builder” image out of your head remember that this will not be you. Researchers found that unlike men, women typically don’t gain size from strength training. Compared to men, women have 10 to 30 times less of the hormones that cause muscle hypertrophy. However, you WILL develop muscle tone and definition. This is a GOOD thing!
- You decrease your risk of Osteoporosis.
Weight training can increase spinal bone mineral density (and enhance bone modeling) by 13 percent in six months. When combined with an adequate amount of dietary calcium, this can be a women’s best defense against osteoporosis.
- Improved athletic performance.
Research concludes that strength training improves athletic ability in all but the very elite athletes. Golfers can significantly increase their driving power. Cyclists are able to continue for longer periods of time with less fatigue. Skiers improve technique and reduce injury. Whatever sport you play, strength training has been shown to improve overall performance as well as decrease the risk of injury.
- Reduced risk of injury, back pain and arthritis.
Along with building stronger muscles, strength training also builds stronger connective tissues and increases joint stability. This acts as reinforcement for the joints and helps prevent injury. A recent 12-year study showed that strengthening the low-back muscles had an 80 percent success rate in eliminating or alleviating low-back pain.
- Reduced risk of heart disease.
According to Dr. Barry A. Franklin, of William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Michigan, weight training can improve cardiovascular health in several ways. It lowers your LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, increases HDL (“good”) cholesterol and lowers your blood pressure. When combined with cardiovascular exercise, these benefits are even greater.
- Reduced risk of diabetes.
Weight training may also improve the way the body processes sugar, which may reduce the risk of diabetes. Adult-onset diabetes is a growing problem for women and men. Research indicates that weight training can increase glucose utilization in the body by 23 percent in four months!
- It’s never too late!
Women in their 70s and 80s have built up significant strength through weight training and studies show that strength improvements are possible at any age. A strength training professional should always supervise older participants.
- Improve your attitude and fight depression.
A Harvard study found that 10 weeks of strength training reduced clinical depression symptoms more successfully than standard counseling did. Women who strength train commonly report feeling more confident and capable as a result of their program. These are all important factors in fighting depression.
SO, what are you waiting for? Go lift those weight ladies! I never thought I would be one to lift weights, but I LOVE it and am always pushing for more! It truly makes me feel so empowered, strong, and confident and all of these other benefits give me even more reasons to continue my strength training. So go grab some weights, you won’t regret it!!