By Joyce Ye
When most women think of weight training, they think of the big, shirt-ripping muscles so often found on bodybuilders, and run the other way. In reality, these are the very stereotypes that keep women from reaping the benefits of weight training. In order to actually become bulky, weight training will not be enough — more commitment is required, in the form of a strict high-protein diet. Even then, most women do not possess the amount of testosterone necessary to support a bulky physique.
Instead, weight training helps improve heart and bone health, sleep quality, fat expenditure, and acts as a natural stress reliever. In addition, it’s even more important for women to lift weights than for men to; as people grow older, their muscles will start to deteriorate, and as women have weaker muscles than men do naturally, it is even more essential for women to build strong muscles.
Weight training has also been proven to improve bone density and heart health, which is important for retaining health in old age.
Most women who stick only to yoga and cardio and avoid weight training like the plague only workout to lose fat; however, this actually works against them, as weight training is one of the top ways to burn fat. The more muscles a woman has, the more calories she will burn at rest, which translates to a higher metabolism. In addition, it’s been shown that the pounds that lifters lose come from almost all fat, whereas the pounds that others lose come from a mix of muscle and fat. A study by the National Institute of Health suggests that the increase in energy expenditure after a weight training session may favorably affect energy balance and fat oxidation.
The benefits of weight training don’t stop just physically. Researchers found that those who performed three weight workouts a week for six months performed much better on measures of anger and overall mood, as compared to when before they started working out. In addition, people who work out exhibit the lowest level of stress hormones.
So the next time you hit the gym, consider getting off the treadmill and picking up the weights instead — its benefits are simply too great to give up!