Walk into any gym and you will see hordes of women running on treadmills and sweating away on the elliptical machines. Where will you not see them? Around the weight racks. Most women shudder at the thought of lifting weights, and for good reason. For years we have been bombarded by the myth that women will bulk up and take on a manly physique if she lifts weights. However, nothing could be further from the truth. Women should lift weights, and should lift them often. Read below to learn about the many benefits women can reap from strength training.
Burn More Calories
Depending on your body weight, you can burn up to 500 calories per hour during an intense weightlifting session. This not only helps to burn fat immediately, but also builds muscle that will help your body burn calories continuously. Studies have shown the muscle burns more calories when the body is at rest than fat. By building more lean muscle, you are burning calories not only in the gym, but also at home while you’re sitting on the couch. Whereas a pound of lean muscle burns roughly 30 calories per day in order to sustain itself, a pound of fat only burns about 6.
Your Pants will be Looser
Most women do not lift weights because of the fear of ‘bulking up’. Actually, your body will become much tighter and smaller. Muscle takes up much less space than fat and will provide you with a much more sculpted look. Cardio and strength training combined is a powerful fat fighting duo. High intensity cardio can burn a high amount of calories in a short period of time, and strength training sculpts the underlying muscle, giving you a slim and shapely figure. The myth regarding women ‘bulking up’ as a result of strength training often comes from the appearance of modern day female bodybuilders. Studies have shown that many of these female strength trainers perform extreme training routines combined with extremely restrictive diets (and many times, steroids) to achieve their muscular physiques. The average woman will slim down and tone up, and should have no worries about taking on the physique of a she-hulk.
Increased Bone Density
You have probably heard that the best way to strengthen your bones is by taking a calcium supplement. Strength training is actually more beneficial. Several studies have shown that women who participate in strength training activities for only 30 minutes per day, 3 days per week strengthen their bones enough to prevent osteoporosis in one year’s time. These same studies also showed that women who performed no strength training exercises experienced a loss of bone density and increased their risk for developing osteoporosis.
A Stronger Heart
When you think of exercises that strengthen the heart, you automatically think of cardio. However, strength training is also greatly beneficial for strengthening the muscles of the heart. Lifting weights cause muscles to generate more force than cardiovascular exercises, and the heart is no exception. Strength training can overload the heart ever so slightly, causing it to create tiny tears in itself, just like any other muscle in the body. When these tears repair themselves, the result is a stronger muscle, which can help protect you against heart disease or stroke.