There’s a common misconception in Pakistan that weights make women bulky. Recent studies have proven that’s certainly not the case.
No disrespect to cardio, but if you want to blast fat, get in shape, and rock everything that comes your way, both in and out of the gym, strength training is what you’re looking for. As compiled from Huffington Post, Prevention and Fitness magazines, here’s why you should grab some dumbbells right away.
Blast more fat
Forget losing your breath on the treadmill and get to the weight room. According to a new study published in Obesity, strength training is better at helping people, especially for women looking to lose belly fat, as compared to cardiovascular activity. While aerobic exercise burns fat, it also burns away precious muscle tissue that you need to get your metabolism racing. Weight lifting exclusively burns fat and promotes a healthy fat-scorching metabolism.
Burn more calories
It’s a fact – you burn calories more efficiently if you lift weights, even while resting. Your muscle mass largely determines your resting metabolic rate, which is essentially how many calories you burn by just living and breathing. “The more muscle you have, the more energy your body expends,” says women’s strength expert Holly Perkins. “Everything you do, from brushing your teeth to sleeping to checking the newsfeed on Facebook, you’ll be burning more calories all day long,” she adds.
As women age, they naturally lose muscle mass more rapidly than men do. This causes women’s metabolism to get sluggish, which means you could start building a spare tire by the time you reach your 30s with your normal diet and cardio routine. “When you do weight-bearing exercises, you start revving up your metabolism and it keeps burning for many hours after your workout,” says Dr Wayne Westcott, director of fitness research at Quincy College. Diminish age-related weight gain by lifting weights at least three times a week, he suggests.
Toughens up mental state
“Strength has a funny way of bleeding into all areas of your life, in the gym and out,” says Jen Sinkler, an Olympic lifting coach, kettlebell instructor, and author of Lift Weights Faster. By constantly challenging yourself to do things you never thought possible, your confidence grows. Lifting weights, as opposed to running or hopping on the elliptical, makes you mentally more tolerant and resistant to everyday situations. “Weight lifting empowers you,” Sinkler notes.
We’ve always heard of running giving athletes stress fractures and lowering bone-density. That’s not the case with lifting weights. Weight-lifting doesn’t only train your muscles, it trains your bones. When you perform a bicep curl, for example, your muscles tug on your arms’ bones. The cells within those bones react by creating new bone cells. Your bones become stronger and denser. “Lifting weights can help counteract age-related bone loss,” says Dr Ethel Siris, director of the Toni Stabile Centre for Osteoporosis at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Centre in New York City. “Strengthening your muscles also improves balance and keeps you as strong as possible, which lowers your chances of a fall-related fracture.
Helps you fit in skinny jeans
Strength training has a reputation of making women ‘bulk up’. But it’s not true. The more your weight comes from muscle rather than fat, the smaller you’ll be. “In fact, body weight often goes up with strength training, but dress size goes down one or two sizes,” Perkins says. “Women produce about five to 10 per cent the amount of testosterone men do, limiting our muscle-building potential when compared to men,” states Sinkler. To seriously gain size, you’d pretty much need to live in the weight room or inject some testosterone.
Leads to a healthier heart
Cardiovascular exercise isn’t the only exercise that can be termed as ‘cardio’. In fact, strength training can up your heart health too. In one Appalachian State University study, people who performed 45 minutes of moderate-intensity resistance exercise lowered their blood pressure by 20 per cent. That’s as good as the benefits associated with most blood-pressure pills. “Strength training lowers blood pressure for 10 to 12 hours after each session, which gives your heart a break,” says Dr William Haskell, professor emeritus of medicine at Stanford University.
Compiled By: Umnia Shahid
Published in The Express Tribune, March 5th, 2015.