There has been a stigma in the gym around women lifting weights. Some people believe women should not lift heavy weight because it is unattractive or that they will get too bulky. However, the reality is women should be lifting and lifting as heavy as they can with good form to support overall health.
Benefits of lifting for women:
- Preserve Muscle Mass: As women age the percentage of fat increase due to moving less and diminishing muscle mass. Through strength training women can preserve and enhance muscle mass even as they age. It is not uncommon for women to have dieted multiple times in their lives and/or multiple times a year due to all the fad diets women tend to jump on and include significant amounts of cardio. This dieting mindset results in lower muscle mass due to being in a calorie deficiency for extended lengths of time. A report published in Science Daily showed that muscle loss was greater in people who only did cardio, but those who mixed cardio and strength training burned more fat and were able to prevent muscle loss
A myth about women who lift heavy is that they will get bulky or too muscular. Due to the high levels of estrogen, this hormone can make it very difficult for women to become overly muscular. Typical results from a women training with heavy weights is a feminine toned appearance.
- Weight Management: Strength training along with proper nutrition increases lean muscle mass. The body will burn more calories to maintain muscle which means the more muscle you have the more calories you burn. You can see this based on rate of weight loss between genders, on average women lose .5 to 1 lb per week and men 1-2 lbs per week for the same deficiency due to more muscle mass
- Reduces Risk of Osteoporosis: Osteoporosis, is a disease in which the density and quality of bone are reduced. As bones become more porous and fragile, the risk of a fracture is greatly increased. As women age and go through hormonal changes they naturally start to lose bone density which can put them as risk for osteoporosis. Strength training routinely can reduce bone deterioration. It also aids in increasing bones strength and maintaining strength. Strength training alone can reduce a woman chances of developing or slowing down osteoporosis.
- Reduce Injury Risks: Women who strength train build muscle and are able to protect joints from injury. Increased muscle assists in improved balance and coordination. These women rarely suffer from broken bones or injuries from normal daily functions that untrained women do.
- Reduce the Risk of Heart Disease: Reduction in heart disease is due to lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels, better sleep, and lessened fat around the heart that come as a results of regular strength training. American Heart Association recommends resistance training at least twice a week to strengthen your heart and fight against various heart-related health issues.
- Increase Confidence: Women who generally strength train as a side effect have increased confidence due to the successes they see in the gym through hitting PR’s, body composition, and an overall feeling of being a badass. Confidence comes with knowledge. When women lift weights, the changes to their muscles are generally related to tone, strength, and endurance rather than size. These changes build confidence.
- Stress Relief: In general, exercise has a positive effect on mental health. During strength training the focus shifts away from stresses at work, home, etc to reps, sets and good form. This switch in focus assists in lower anxiety, reduction in depression and stress. As an added bonus exercise and body composition transformation supports confidence and feeling positive and happy.
So ladies… the next time you pick up those heavy weights and someone tells you women shouldn’t be lifting heavy… say to them, “And why is that?” and then drop some knowledge on them and then hit a personal record with your lift.
You deserve to have the body you want and a long healthy life that comes from good nutrition and a solid strength training program. Your dedication to you will show those naysayers that they don’t know what they are talking about. Do not let anyone tell you what women can’t or shouldn’t do.