A very useful and interesting guest post today on why women should lift weights.

It’s no secret that many women feel reluctant to get involved with weight training at the gym. Until now, this has been for good reason as women have been discouraged for decades not to ‘lift too heavy’ otherwise they are at risk of becoming ‘bulky’ or ‘manly’. While 12.7 million women have a membership with a gym or health club, a survey conducted by the IHRSA (International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association) found that only a third of these women use free weights. While this is an increase from across the last four years, it’s shockingly low.

A further study by the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) found just 17.5 percent of American women meet their strength training and aerobic guideline recommendations. However, it’s largely agreed throughout the industry that spending your time at the gym in the weights area instead of on treadmill is far much more beneficial in trying to help you achieve your goals –  so what gives? Well, here are some of the biggest advantages of weight training for women:

It burns more total calories than straight up cardio 

Like every workout, you get back what you put in. Minute for minute spent lifting weights or doing cardio, the amount of calories burned is about 8-10 a minute. The difference with strength training is that your body keeps torching the calories long after you’ve finished! This is because effective training should tear the microfibers in your muscles so your body needs to work a little harder in the background to repair these stronger for the next time.

On average, most women will burn about 100 calories extra in the 24 hours following a strength training session. It’s worth noting that this muscle recovery is greatly helped by making sure you stay hydrated during and post-workout. Muscle fatigue and soreness can often follow a good strength workout – especially if you’re new to it – so as a rule of thumb, make sure you are drinking more than you think you probably should be!

You burn more calories doing nothing

This one is lesser known but is a giant perk of weight training. Muscle mass needs more calories to sustain itself than fat tissue does so, the more muscle you have the more calories you burn when simply resting. You can get an estimate of how many calories you burn at rest by using an online calculator – although for a more accurate estimate you need to know your body fat percentage. It will come as no surprise to any woman that if you train with weights, you should be increasing the amount of muscle tissue you have so this is a truly foolproof perk.

The problem with cardio is that often muscle mass is actually lost along with fat tissue, so although you may be losing weight you are also dropping the number of calories you need per day quite drastically. This is a common reason you may find you put weight back on after you’ve lost it despite actually eating less and exercising more than you did in the first place – a cruel trick, I know!

You can expect to actually look more WOMANLY, not manly

Weight training keeps your muscles engaged and encourages your body to keep them sustained, while at the same time you’re dropping body fat. This combo makes your muscles more visible and is what most women expect to see when they aim to look toned! You cannot be toned without muscle, and so many women are surprised when they see how curvy they’ve become after getting into strength training, not ‘bulky’. More muscle in your arms, legs, bum and belly are what creates that healthy, shapely look that your fitness inspiration probably has.

Don’t worry about ‘overdoing’ it either. Any fitness models you’ve seen with huge amounts of muscle did not get that way by accident. Actually, it’s very difficult for women to build large amounts of muscle because of the part testosterone plays. It’s vital for muscle building but we have far less whizzing around our bodies than men do meaning it’s much trickier for us to build up and maintain large amounts of muscle anyway!

So there you have it, these a some of the key reasons to take the leap into weight training – but there are still even more like:

  • It helps to elevate your mood and your energy levels

  • It can reduce your stress levels (more effectively than cardio too)

  • It increases bone density, lowering the risk of osteoporosis and other bone diseases

  • Lowers the risk of heart disease, diabetes etc. (Any form of exercise is recommended to reduce these risks.)

Plus, the need to increase your water intake to train more effectively brings even more advantages; from clearer skin to staying fuller for longer between meals. And hydration isn’t just limited to water! Teas, rich in antioxidant, work just as well while also helping to prevent boredom by varying the ways you keep hydrated. So, now it’s time to get started in the weight room, and show the boys what you can do.

Photo by Scott Webb on Unsplash

Author Bio: Jane Sandwood is a professional freelance writer with over 10 years’ experience across many fields. Jane has a particular interest in issues relating to health, fitness and nutrition.