I have always weight trained. Even when I was starting out at 11/12 years old, I had a few sets of dumbbells. Now, I have my own gym in my home, and I have far more weight equipment than cardio. I do both, but I'd take 2 hours of weight training, over 30 minutes of cardio, any day! Many women don't feel this way though. I think they have a misunderstanding of exactly what weight training will do for their body and it's health benefits. They see it as masculine or that they will end up too big. So, instead they just hop on a treadmill, elliptical or stepper, and mindlessly go through the motions, because that's what they see most women doing at the gym. I understand that the weight room can be intimidating. Lots of big, sweaty, grunting men doesn't sound or look inviting to me either. When I worked at a gym, there were no women there, unless I took them there to train. I never saw them go over on their own. If they did weight train, it was in a different section that had nautilus machines, and I rarely even saw that!
So first, let's talk about the benefits for women who weight train....
- You Will Lose Body Fat - Most women believe that in order to lose weight, they have to only do cardio. This couldn't be farther from the truth! The more muscle you build, the higher your RMR (resting metabolic rate). That means, even when you aren't moving, you are burning more calories. Generally, for each pound of muscle you gain, your body will burn 35 - 50 more calories per day, and that can start to add up!
- You Will Gain Strength, Not Bulk - Women have 10 to 30 times less of the hormones that cause muscle hypertrophy, so you will define and lean out, not bulk up.
- Decreased Risk Of Osteoporosis - Research has found that weight training, can increase bone density by 13% in 6 months. Along with calcium, this is your best defense for osteoporosis. I had a client with severe osteoporosis. Weight training is all we did in the gym, and it definitely helped her in her daily activities, and she believed it prolonged her life, as well.
- Improved Athletic Performance - Research shows that weight training improves overall performance, as well as reducing the risk of injury.
- Improves Physical Strength - Research shows that women who perform moderate weight training can increase their strength by 30 - 50%. Increased strength means better performance with everyday chores and activities.
- Lower Risk Of Injury, Arthritis, and Back Pain - Along with building stronger muscles, weight training also builds stronger connective tissues and stabilizes joints, which helps prevent injuries.
- Lower Risk Of Heart Disease - Research shows weight training improves cardiovascular condition, by lowering blood pressure, lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol, and increase HDL (good) cholesterol.
- Reduce Risk Of Diabetes - Research shows that weight training can improve the way the body processes sugar, which can reduce the risk of diabetes. Studies show that with regular training, glucose utilization can increase by 23% in 4 months.
- It's NEVER Too Late - Women in their 70's and 80's have shown to increase their strength with weight training, and studies show gains can happen at any age.
- Fight Depression & Improve Attitude - A recent Harvard study shows that after 10 weeks of weight training, depression symptoms decreased more than counseling. Women often report feeling more confident and capable, which helps fight depression.
If you have always been off put by the idea of lifting weights, I hope you give it a chance. It will greatly improved your strength, physical appearance, and confidence. Physical strength and understanding your abilities, will ultimately transcend into all areas of your life. I've seen it happen, and I have experienced it myself. So, don't let the guys hog all the free weights! You have just as much right to be there as they do! Don't allow yourself to be intimidated. If you are new to weight training, I definitely recommend spending some time with a trainer. There are a lot of ways to weight train, depending on your goals. You need to have an understanding of what exercises, work what muscles. Most importantly, you need to learn proper form. Without proper form, you could end up injuring yourself, and at the very least, you won't get the results you are looking for. Form Is Everything, so take the time to learn it.