We all know some of the benefits of exercise for women-improved strength, cardiovascular health and stress relief. But what about weight training for women? What are the specific benefits that weight training can offer that other types of exercise (i.e. running, biking, walking, and other types of cardio specific training) do not? According to studies, only about 20 percent of women weight train. I bet that number would increase if we all knew the facts about women who lift weights on a consistent basis.
"I DON'T WANT TO LOOK MASCULINE"
One of the most popular myths about women and lifting weights is that it will make them appear masculine or bulky. To understand why this is not the case, we have to understand the differences in the body chemistry of men and women. There's a key ingredient that men possess in abundance that women have in short supply - testosterone. Men have anywhere from 10-30 x the testosterone levels that women do. High levels of testosterone is what allows men to gain more muscle mass and the low levels in women prevents similar muscle mass gains.
CHANGE IS GOOD
If you still don't believe me, look no further than our own Lisa MacDonald. For years, Lisa had the same concerns that many women have when it comes to do lifting (especially heavy weights) on a regular basis. Anyone who knows Lisa knows that she is as active as anyone could possibly be. Prior to incorporating weights into her routine, she ran frequently, attended yoga classes weekly, and even biked often during the summer. Yet with all that exercising, she still wasn't completely happy with her physique. She decided to add heavy weight training to her regiment to see of it would garner the results that she was looking for. I'm happy to say that over the last few months, not only has Lisa improved her overall conditioning, but is happier with her physique than she's ever been. It goes to show that even us professionals in the exercise industry can fall victim to the misconceptions that get perpetuated.
BUILDING LEAN MUSCLE BURNS FAT
Now that we've mentioned what weight training doesn't do for women, let's focus on what is does do for them. For starters, while weight training won't bulk you up, you can still build lean muscle. For every 1 lb. of lean muscle you add to your body, you can burn up to an extra 35-50 calories per day. In addition, your calorie burning output post weight training can last up to 24 hrs. This process is called EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption). After weight training, your body consumes more oxygen which allows for fat stores to be broken down. Studies have also shown that an exercise program that includes both weight training and cardio will allow you to lose up to 2x as much fat as a program that consists of only cardiovascular activities.
If you're someone who suffers from back pain or poor posture, weight training can dramatically improve both issues. Proper core exercising mixed with stretching techniques can alleviate most low back issues. Whether you're someone who sits all day or is on their feet for long periods of time, any repetitive actions can induce low back problems. Exercising the muscles that make your core stronger as well as stretching the muscles that get tight due to our everyday chores and hobbies will go a long way in making sure your low back pain becomes a thing of the past.
Did you know that one of the greatest ways to combat osteoporosis is lifting weights? Weight training not only increases bone density, it can reverse the erosion of bone that has already occurred. Increased bone density reduces the risk of injury and bone fractures dramatically. Weight training has the same positive effect on joints, tendons, ligaments, and other connective tissue. All of these benefits mean less injury and improved performance in all facets of your life.
IMPROVE YOUR MOOD
If all the physical benefits of lifting weren't enough, there are the positive effects that it's been proven to have on the mind. Everything from cognitive functioning, memory, coordination, stress relief and overall mood have shown to be enhanced by weight training. In today's society, a woman's voice is stronger than it's ever been. Why not make the body that houses that voice as strong on the outside!
As always, make sure to maintain a healthy, well-balanced diet so that you can reap all the benefits discussed above. By maintaining the right diet, as well as incorporating cardiovascular exercise and weight training frequently into your routine, you are on your way to become healthier and happier than you've ever been!