It makes me so sad when I hear women say they don’t lift. There are always various excuses, of course, number one being “I don’t want to look like a man”. Ladies, allow me to let you in on a little secret…you are not a man! So unless you were to take some sort of hormone-altering substance or adopt the workout routine of a bodybuilder, you will by no means look like a man. Know what you will look like? A strong, toned, sexy woman, that’s what you’ll look like! Then there’s “I’ll gain weight if I lift”, wrong you’ll gain muscle, two completely different things. How about “Lifting at the gym with all the guys around is too intimidating”, sort of legit but there are also several ways around this one, like purchase some free weights and resistance bands and do your strength training at home, go to a group class where you have an instructor telling you what to do, hire a trainer for a couple sessions until you feel more comfortable, or just ignore the guys and do your thing! And finally “I don’t like to sweat that much”, really?? I’m afraid I can’t help you there, just get over your diva self. The benefits of strength training are really endless, but here are my top 5 reasons women should lift:
For Your Heart
Heart disease is the number one killer of women in America, pretty scary huh? Strength training not only helps to strengthen the heart itself but also helps to keep you lean which makes the heart’s job a whole lot easier, therefore reducing your risk of developing heart disease. So get in that weight room and show your ticker some love.
Muscle Burns More Calories than Fat
No, unfortunately, the old adage “muscle weighs more than fat” is not true, a pound is a pound whether it’s coming from lean muscle tissue or fatty adipose tissue. However, what is true is that muscle is more dense than fat, and also more metabolically active than fat. Meaning muscle is going to take up less space on your body (aka why we lose inches but may not see the number on the scale move), and it burns up to 15% more calories than fat tissue does, which translates to a higher metabolism. So no more sugary energy drinks promising to boost your metabolism, just lift weights instead!
Ladies, as we all know gravity is not our friend, especially as we age. Things start to sag that you didn’t even know we’re capable of sagging, and you feel jiggle where you’ve never felt jiggle before. And for those angels among us who have brought children into this world, the gravity struggle is even more real. Strength training is the answer, and again it comes down to the density of muscle vs fat. Muscle is going to help hold everything in place and keep things from drooping and flopping; fat tissue is just going to sit there like “eh I’m good, the gravity you got this”. All the cardio in the world isn’t going to build the kind of muscle you need to counteract the evils of gravity, so pick up the dumbbells and get to work.
For your Bones
According to the National Osteoporosis foundation, 54 million US adults age 50 and over are affected by osteoporosis and low bone mass, up to 80% of those people are women. Now you may be thinking well I’m not over 50 so I’m cool, but unfortunately not. Building bone density in your early years is crucial because as we get older not only is it harder to get back, but we lose it so much faster. We all know getting your calcium and vitamin D is important for bone health, but the reality is the strength training may be even more important. Strength training stresses the bone (in a good way) and in doing so causes the bones to get stronger, ultimately decreasing your risk for osteoporosis and future old lady broken hips.
Lifting is Cardio’s Bestie
Cardio and lifting really do make the perfect pair, so combining several session of each per week is the fastest way to get the results you want. Cardio brings instant calorie burn to the table, which is great especially when you may have overindulged on margarita Monday and need to get back on track on Tuesday. Strength training comes in with the background calorie burn. So if you were to wear a heart monitor that also estimates calories burned during your workout you’re most likely going to see a smaller number after your strength training than you do after cardio, but remember those weights are building muscle which is going to continue to burn calories even after you leave the gym. Pairing your cardio with weight lifting is just a win-win situation all around.