More and more women are turning to strength training now than ever before.
Women are starting to realise that running and aerobics are not going to get them the lean, toned sexy fit body they are after and shouldn't be the base and cornerstone of their fitness routine.
In saying that, the minute I say to a woman you need to lift weights to change your body, I get that fearful look in their eyes and the shake of the head, "no-no but I don't want to get 'bulky'."
There are many women, like me, already lifting weights. So tell me how many of these 'bulky' women do you actually see at your gym right now???
It's time to put the fear aside ladies and head into the weights room. Here are my TOP 6 reasons women should lift weights.
When you sit down and think about your fitness goals, strength training is not only going to help you achieve then but will get you there a lot quicker than cardio-based training and yoga. Don't get me wrong, these have their place in fitness and I believe we all need to work on our flexibility and cardiovascular fitness. The perfect training program would encompass all aspects of fitness, strength training, cardio and yoga/movement/mobility.
1) Fat Loss.
This is no 1 for a reason. Weight training not only burns calories during exercise it burns calories post too. This is called Excess Post-Exercises Oxygen Consumption EPOC. When your body consumes more oxygen its burns more calories and increases metabolic rate. Oxygen consumption governs metabolism. In contrast to steady-state cardio, once you stop that's it you stop burning calories.
2) Shape Your Body.
That 'tone' you're looking for comes from building muscle. The bigger butt, toned arms, toned thighs all comes from lifting weights and engaging those muscles of your body. When you purely do cardio-based sessions when you lose weight this comes from fat and muscle. Muscle is what creates shape and tone. If you don't use it you lose it. Ever broke an ankle and had your leg in a plaster cast for 8 weeks. Had that taken off and your calf is half the size....yeah that is the result when you don't contract those muscle fibres.
3) Increase In Metabolic Rate.
There is research to support that long term resistance training may increase 24 hr energy expenditure and fat oxidation(1) those level sufficient to assist in maintaining energy balance and prevent weight gain. An increase in Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR) means your body works more efficiently, you can lose fat on a higher amount of calories. Which makes dieting much much more fun. Wouldn't it be cool to diet, lose body fat and still eat lots of food! Well, weight training allows you to do this.
4) Better Sleep.
Sleep is where the magic happens. Its where the body recovers. Exercise can assist in better quality sleep. Studies have shown that moderate-intensity exercise can improve the quality of sleep and reduce the number of times that you wake at night.
5) Better Emotional Wellbeing.
Weight training and particularly strength training can have a positive impact on the emotional wellbeing of women. We can find the strength in the gym to overcome a weight that was once thought to challenging sets us up for success and the strength to deal with many of life challenges.
One particular study looked at the effect of weight training on emotional wellbeing and body image of women. It should that those who weight trained had a significantly higher score for their wellbeing as well as reduce skinfold thickness and increase in muscle strength. (2)
6) Stress Management.
Exercise in general is a great way to manage stress. When you exercise you release those feel-good endorphins, its an opportunity to switch off from the outside world and feel good. But remember exercise is still a stressor on the body, so if you are already managing high stress and high cortisol your exercise selection should be suited to reduce this. Bouts of high-intensity training that rely on adrenaline and cortisol will only add more stress to the body. High cortisol will quickly erode muscle so strength training with lower reps and longer rest is optimal.