Why women should lift weights

Published: March 5, 2015
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.  PHOTO: SHUTTERSTOCK

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. PHOTO: SHUTTERSTOCK

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.

Soars metabolism

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.

Strengthens bones

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.

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Reader Comments (5)

  • Mar 5, 2015 - 3:00AM

    Never be scared of being too big!Recommend

  • Mar 5, 2015 - 7:43PM

    Great article for newbies looking for some affirmation that strength training is fantastic for women. The stock photo of a woman rocking a wimpy 5 pound hand weight? Not so much. Recommend

  • Mar 5, 2015 - 9:21PM

    I’m not gonna lie, weight loss is pretty hard. My wife and I lost over 100 lbs (between the 2 of us) in a few months (http://stevesweightloss.com) and I still have another 20-30 lbs but my wife is done with hers. But we didn’t have to use drugs to do it, hah. We just kept on eating normal, but with a few tricks that we learned along the way.We feel so much better now, even at our annual physical we passed with flying colors, all of our blood markers are back to their normal healthy ranges. We used to have high blood pressure and high cholesterol, and I was pre-diabetic. Now everything is normal again. Best thing I ever did.Recommend

  • Mar 8, 2015 - 7:57PM

    Hi every body,
    Diet is not about losing weight, it’s about eating right. Read Grain Brain and you will understand Paleo Diet. Sugars cause inflammation, which ages us. Marketing is damage you up. A slice of whole wheat bread is probably the worst thing you can put in your mouth. It’s about putting gas in your engine, not diesel. And yes arthritis is gone, the bags under my eyes are gone and as a side effect, went from 180 to 152. Don’t knock it till you try it. And you have to put the alcohol away.I used to have big problems with lose weight tips, but am getting in better shape now. Here’s a good site I found that really helped. It gave me great methods and and showed me what I was doing wrong before…there’s even lots of free articles on the site…http://www.cavediet.netRecommend

  • Jen Olsen
    Mar 10, 2015 - 5:25AM

    I signed up for an online e-course (http://www.FlatStomachGuidance.com) on how to lose belly fat. Oddly enough it goes over weight training in some detail.

    At first I was skeptical until I started seeing changes in my body. Not only my shape, but my metabolism too!

    It goes over full body workouts designed to speed up your metabolism, even after you’re done. I still do cardio but not exclusively.

    When you look at bodybuilders and athletes, they can eat a lot more than the average person and still be lean. See ya, I totally agree with this article!Recommend

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