“But won’t I get bulky?”
No! Many women have a big misconception about weight training. Just by lifting weights, you will not turn you into the next Incredible Hulk.
Lifting weights will actually help you slim down, tone up, burn more fat, and feel more energized. In general, women are still convinced that sticking to the cardio machines is the way to go. After this article women will no longer fear the weight rack.
1. You Will Burn More Calories
Although cardio burns more calories during the workout, strength training burns more overall because you burn extra calories for hours after your workout. Your body has to work harder to maintain muscle cells than it does fat cells. So by lifting weights you will turn your body into a fat-burning machine. Generally speaking, for each pound of muscle you gain, you burn 35 to 50 more calories each day.
2. Build Muscle without Bulk
Research shows that between the ages of 30 and 70, women lose an average of 22 percent of their total muscle. What’s even more upsetting is that over time, the muscle void is often filled with fat. One pound of fat takes up 18 percent more space than one pound of muscle, so even if the number on the scale goes down, your pants size might go up. The best way to stay tight and toned? Keep strength training!
But ladies, make it count! If you are not lifting enough weight to challenge yourself then your efforts may be in vain. Do 3 set of 12-15 repetitions, and shoot for 2-3 full-body workouts per week. These full-body workouts should at least be 30 minutes, each session. Include 3-4 days of cardiovascular exercise, either on the same days or alternate days.
3. You’ll Build Stronger Bones
Lifting weights could be your best fight against osteoporosis. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, “When you lift weights you engage muscles that pull on the tendons which, in turn, pull on the bones, this added stress makes bones stronger.”
Additionally studies have indicated that weight training can ease the pain of osteoarthritis and strengthen joints.
4. Healthy Heart
This is one of the most important reasons. To the surprise of many women, heart disease is our number one killer. Weight training has been noted to improve cardiovascular health in several ways, including lowering LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, increasing HDL (“good”) cholesterol and lowering blood pressure.
Research shows weight training is a powerful way to protect your heart in the long run. “As muscles contract, blood is pushed back up to the heart,” says Irv Rubenstein, PhD, exercise physiologist and founder of S.T.E.P.S., a fitness facility in Nashville, TN. “The heart then recirculates this oxygenated blood back to the muscles, which keeps the cardiovascular system in better working order.” Plus, maintaining lean muscle mass enables you to do more work overall, further enhancing this effect, Rubenstein says.
5. Reduce Stress
There is nothing more stress-relieving than deadlifts, dumbbell curls, or kettlebell swings. Weight training has the power to induce pleasure by releasing endorphins, the “feel-good” chemical in your brain. One Australian study found that people who did three strength workouts a week (chest presses, lat pull-downs, and biceps curls) reported an 18 percent drop in depression after 10 weeks. In addition, exercise reduces levels of the stress hormone cortisol, relieving feelings of anxiety and agitation.
6. You’ll reduce your risk of diabetes
Weight training improves the way the body processes sugar, which may reduce the risk of diabetes. And if you already have diabetes, research shows that extended periods of strength training improves blood sugar control as well as taking a diabetes drug. Research also indicates that weight training can increase glucose utilization in the body by 23 percent in four months.
It Is Never Too Late To Benefit
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. Note, however, that a strength training professional should always supervise older participants.