Here’s a familiar scenario that gets told over and over again. Professional women and stay at home moms alike take one look at the weight lifting section and think “No, sir – this is not where I belong.” Perhaps you have never done weight training before and have no clue where to start. Maybe that little picture on each machine isn’t enough to show you how to actually use it. Or maybe you have conjured up scary images in your mind thinking you will start looking like a bulked up woman on steroids. With all these worries, you continue your routine treadmill run and never think about lifting the dumbbells again.
First, to lay the record straight it is nearly impossible to look like a beefed up muscular dude. Women simply do not have the testosterone levels as men do to maintain extraordinary amounts of muscle mass. Many women want to look long and lean so they head straight to the treadmill or elliptical. The fact is cardio health is only one part of the fitness equation. Resistance training improves bone density, enhances muscle tone, and of course increases strength. Many women want to maintain a younger appearance and what many women don’t know is that lifting weights actually slows or even reverses the aging process. Starting in the mid-thirties, women lose between five to ten percent of muscle mass each decade. What’s telling is that this reduction in muscle mass negatively effects daily functions such as lifting and carrying a child as well as carrying groceries. This is important to note since women are choosing to start families later in life and they need to be in tip-top condition both physically and emotionally. Studies have even shown that females who lift weights also have higher self esteem. While some females see running as a way to stay thin and focus on the number on the scale, women who lift weights focus on both strength and appearance. Additionally, women who do resistance training have stronger immune systems and get sick less often.
Need even more reasons why you should incorporate weight lifting in your routine? Muscle burns about three times as much calories compared to fat. Each pound of muscle burns between 35 to 50 calories a day. This means that adding two to four pounds of muscle will translate to burning an additional 100 calories per day. It all adds up. Muscles are like little fuel hungry factories that use up calories even when you sleep. When you think about the time-benefit investment, you’ll realize that 20 minutes dedicated to lifting iron will have far reaching benefits through the day and night. A study by Dr. Westcott found that the average woman who lifts weights twice a week for two months will gain two pounds of muscle while losing 3.5 pounds of fat. So women who did weight training not only improved their body composition, but they actually lost weight overall! This is completely different that the imagined “female hulk” picture of women who resistance train.
Why Should Women Lift Weights?
- Improve body composition
- Muscle gain
- Weight loss
- Increase strength
- Reduce lower back pain
- Reduce the risk of osteoporosis
- Improve mood
- Boost sex drive
- Continue to burn calories long after training