Why should women lift?
Maybe you've thought about lifting weights. Maybe you've even done some dumbbell curls or picked up a barbell. Every time you hit the iron though, you feel unsure, insecure, and a little fearful.
Undoubtedly, you've heard the horror stories: lifting heavy weights makes women bulky, it's dangerous, it's bad for your joints, and once you have muscle, you can't stop lifting or it will all turn to fat. It's all false, and it feeds into stereotypes that are keeping too many women from experiencing the profound benefits of resistance training. It's time to put that fear and uncertainty aside. The fact is lifting weights does none of those awful things. It only make you stronger and healthier!
When you sit down to list your fitness objectives, you may be surprised to learn that that strength training will not only help you reach them, but you may reach them faster than performing cardio exercise alone. Yoga and the treadmill can have their place, but they're not enough. Here are just a few reasons you should prioritize strength training, learn proper technique, and start lifting heavy!
1.) Increased fat loss
The huge advantage to weight training is your body's ability to burn fat during and after exercise. After a heavy bought of strength training, you continue to consume additional oxygen in the hours and even days that follow. When your body uses more oxygen, it requires more caloric expenditure and an increased metabolic rate.
2.) More lean muscle mass means more calorie expenditure
Let’s get the record straight: There is no such thing as “toning muscles.” There is such thing as “building lean muscle,” but that cannot happen unless heavy enough weights are involved and muscles are fueled properly. Lifting and building lean muscle have dozens of benefits for women. These benefits include: more defined muscles, stronger bones, injury prevention AND increased calorie burn and fat loss. As you increase strength and lean muscle mass, your body uses calories more efficiently. Daily muscle contractions from a simple blink to a heavy squat contribute to how many calories you burn in a given day. Sitting burns fewer calories than standing; standing burns fewer than walking, and walking burns fewer than strength training. The more muscle contractions you experience during a day, the more calories you'll burn. If you have more lean muscle mass, you'll have more muscle contractions and thus burn more calories. As we age, we start to lose anywhere from 3-8% of muscle mass each decade over the age of 30 unless we work to maintain it.
3.) Improved bone health
As we age, we are at risk of losing both bone and muscle mass. Postmenopausal women are at a greater risk for osteoporosis because the body no longer secretes estrogen. Resistance training is an excellent way to combat loss of bone mass, and it decreases the risk of osteoporosis. The earlier you begin weightlifting, the greater chance you have to maintain bone health later in life.
4.) Stress relief and improved self confidence
Exercise in general is a great way to manage stress. Researchers have consistently found that those who regularly strength train tend to manage stress better and experience fewer adverse reactions to stressful situations as those who do not exercise. In addition, resistance-training studies on older adults show that moderate intensity weightlifting improves memory and cognitive function. Accomplishing something you may have previously thought impossible is a huge confidence booster!
Universally I think it's safe to say that most women want to feel strong, independent, capable and confident in everything we do: from fitting into jeans, to moving heavy furniture, to playing with kids, to dealing with a stressful career. Regardless of your athletic experience, lifting will revolutionize your fitness ability, make you feel powerful, strong and ready to conquer the world!
Check out this video about an amazing woman, Cassidy Duffield, who was initially intimidated by CrossFit and weightlifting. Today, she is focusing on coaching and Olympic-weightlifting meets. She has some advice for young women everywhere: “Believe in yourself and don’t compare yourself to others at all. Focus on what you’ve accomplished and always believe that you’re unstoppable.”