Why Women Should Lift Weights

By Hannah Christie, Performance Personal Trainer
Many women get stuck in the rut of cardio workout after cardio workout, thinking its the only way to lose or maintain their weight.  However, adding a few days of resistance training into a workout program can be much more beneficial toward achieving those goals, and here are six reasons why:

Weight loss and increased metabolism
Resistance training is often the overlooked component of weight loss.  By adding strength training to your weekly exercise program, muscle fibers are given the stimulation they need to grow, and to grow, they need energy. The result is an increased metabolism. The other great thing about strength training is that you continue to burn additional energy for hours after you have finished your workout as your body works to recover from the hard work.

Bone Growth Stimulation
Women have the unfortunate predisposition to losing bone mass much faster than men as we age, and the ultimate result is osteoporosis if we don’t take steps to prevent it.  For young women, resistance training provides the stimulation needed for bone growth, and for older women, the stimulation needed to prevent further bone loss.

Definition and Strength
A word I hear from many people looking to start working out is “tone”, which has become a popular, though misused word. The word they are really looking for is “definition” and, in addition, “strength”. Definition refers to the visual effect of fit, healthy muscles in which you can see the general outline of the muscle. For most, a reduction in body fat percentage yields the results they are looking for; something that resistance training can help achieve.

“I don’t want to get big” is the most common reason I hear from women as to why they do not want to lift weights.  And my straightforward answer to this statement is:  It will not happen. Mostly due to the differences in hormones, women’s physiology is not set up to create “bulky” muscles.  Female physique bodybuilding competitors train for years and follow specifically written workout programs to achieve such muscle mass, so you don’t really have anything to worry about.

Aesthetics
Let’s compare two pictures below. The picture on the left is Shalane Flanagan, an American long distance runner. On the right is Nicole Wilkins, an IFBB figure competitor. Flanagan, though very lean, has a very low muscle mass.  Excessive cardio can lead to a phenomenon popularly known as “skinny fat”, in which a person looks very thin, but also has a very low muscle mass and higher body fat percentage due to a lack of strength training.  A well rounded workout program contains both strength training and cardiovascular training, which results in a look more like Wilkins.

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Sleep
Have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep?  Resistance training has been found to help get you a better night’s sleep, so you can be up and ready for another day.  That extra sleep also allows our body a better recovery from the day’s workout and more time to repair, replace, and rebuild that muscle.

Stress Relief
And what’s better than a little time to release some of the frustration of the day? Lifting weights stimulates those feel-good hormones to be released and make you a happier and more positive person throughout the day.

Don’t know how to get started or want more information?  Ask a Performance Personal Trainer for a little help, or contact me directly at HChristie@perfther.com.

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