Why Women Should Lift

Strength training among women is becoming increasingly popular. Many women are now realizing that aerobics and running shouldn't be the basis of their fitness routine and won't get them as lean and toned as weights training will.

However, many women still assume lifting weights will cause them to become bulky.

I'm here to tell you that I and many other women at the gym are already lifting weights. So how many of these bulky women do you actually see at your gym?

When you sit down and think about your fitness goals, strength training is not only going to help you achieve them but will get you there a lot quicker than cardio based training and yoga.

Don't get me wrong, these have their place in fitness and I believe we all need to work on our flexibility and cardiovascular fitness. The perfect training program would encompass all aspects of fitness utilizing strength training, yoga, mobility and cardio.

So let's put the fears aside and tackle the weights room, with my top six reasons in mind.

1. It burns fat

Weight training burns calories both during and after exercise. This is called Excess Post-Exercises Oxygen Consumption EPOC. When your body consumes more oxygen it burns more calories and increases metabolic rate. Oxygen consumption governs metabolism.

This is in contrast to steady state cardio, where once you stop, you stop burning calories.

2. It sculpts your body

The toned looking physique only comes from having muscle. The bigger butt, toned arms and toned thighs all come from lifting weights and engaging those muscles of you body.

Just doing cardio will allow you to lose both fat and muscle. The muscle is what creates shape and tone. And sadly, if you don't use it you lose it.

Ever broken an ankle and had your leg in a plaster cast for eight weeks. When it is taken off, often your calf is half the size. This is the result of you not contracting muscle fibres.

3. It increases metabolic rate

Some studies show long term resistance training may result in an increase in 24 hour energy expenditure and fat oxidation. These levels may be enough to assist in maintaining energy balance and preventing weight gain.

An increase in Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR) means your body works more efficiently and you can lose fat while consuming a higher amount of calories. This makes dieting much easier. You can lose body fat and still eat lots of food! And yes, weight training allows you to do this.

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4. It encourages deeper sleep

Sleep is where the recovery and muscle growth occurs.

Exercise can help to encourage better sleep quality. Research has found that moderate intensity exercise can improve the quality of sleep and reduce the amount of times the body wakes during the night.

5. It enhances emotional well-being

Weight and strength training can have a positive impact on the emotional well-being of women. It has been found that challenging and overcoming strength goals in the gym can set us up for success and the strength to deal with many of life challenges.

One research paper has looked at the effects of strength training on emotional well-being and self image of women. It found those who trained with weights had a much higher score in terms of well-being as well as reduced skin fold thickness and and increase in muscle strength.

6. It helps manage stress

Exercise is one of the best ways to deal with stress. When you exercise you release endorphins, which helps us to switch off from the outside world and feel good.

But exercise can still put added stress on the body, so if you are already managing high stress and high cortisol levels your exercise selection may need to be adapted.

High intensity training sessions which rely on adrenaline and cortisol will only add more stress to the body. High cortisol will quickly erode muscle so strength training with lower reps and longer rest is optimal.

Have you recently taken up strength training? Tell us how it's going in the comments below!