As women, we’ve all heard the outdated opinions that only men weight lift. Now I know it can be intimidating for many women to get started, but it’s time to bust the myth and get as many women weight training as we can. It really is one of the best forms of training for women.
Thankfully the ever-changing tide of the fitness industry means more and more women are weight training, getting stronger, and feeling fitter. The biggest thing to remember is that everyone starts somewhere when it comes to weight training, we've all been beginners so don’t let the fear of starting stop you from implementing one of the most beneficial forms of training into your life. It’s time for more women to get a barbell in their hands and start feeling strong and invincible.
Why we lift
1. Weight lifting can make you strong
The biggest thing about weight lifting is that you can transform your body and mind, and make yourself more powerful in every sense. With 3-5 sessions a week you will be building a strong body and showing yourself how capable you and your body really are.
2. It improves fat loss
A heavy round of strength training leads to higher consumption of oxygen in the hours to days after the training session. The body using more oxygen means that it requires more caloric expenditure and increased metabolic rate which equals more calories burned — which leads to greater fat loss.
3. More muscle, means more calories burnt
When you begin strength training, you start to build lean muscle mass which uses calories more efficiently. The everyday contractions of muscles contribute to how many calories you burn in a day. The more muscles the higher the rate of caloric burn. Once you then add in more movement during the day this then begins to increase even more, from hitting your 10k steps to adding in a few strength training sessions you’ll be hitting your goals in no time.
4. It provides stress relief
Exercise in general releases endorphins that make you feel good. It is also found that people who strength train regularly tend to manage stress better.
Strength and resistance training in general also shows an improvement in memory and cognitive function. So next time you’re looking for a little relief, hit the weights.
5. It increases energy
Weight/strength training helps improve the overall quality of your sleep during the night which means you feel more rested when going into the next day. It also shows that after even a minimal strength session there is an increase in energy expenditure. So when you need a little lift why not hit the barbell and lift not only your mood but your energy levels.
5. It promotes a healthy heart and bones
Strength/weight training is a great way of reducing your risk of heart disease and those who strength train are less likely to have heart disease risk factors such as a large waist circumference, high triglycerides, elevated blood pressure, and elevated glucose levels.
Weight training can also improve cardiovascular health by lowering bad cholesterol and increasing good cholesterol, and in turn, this will help to lower blood pressure.
It is also a great way to help you as you age, which leads to a risk of losing both bone and muscle mass. It is especially helpful for postmenopausal women who are at a higher risk of osteoporosis. Strength training is an excellent way to help combat the loss of bone mass, and it decreases the risk of osteoporosis.
6. It reduces the risk of injury
Strength training not only helps to strengthen your muscle and increase your bone density but reduces the risk of injury. Training helps build stronger connective tissues and tendons as well as stabilising joints.
It’s also key for helping in correcting bad posture, building better form in everyday activities and preventing back injuries.
Weight lifting for women - common myths
It’s no wonder a lot of women have been scared or reluctant to lift weights with so many misconceptions being thrown around so let's settle some of the biggest myths once and for all...
1. Lifting makes women bulky
I personally wish that it was that easy, it’s actually very hard for women to build muscle and any muscle you do gain is very gradually and most women will tend to find that their bodies have a lot more tone and definition than before and that new muscle will be liked a lot more than they thought, Plus more muscle means more food - that's a win-win!
2. Lifting heavier is dangerous for women
Studies have shown that women actually benefit more from lifting heavy than men do. A lot of women excel at weight lifting and these elite women athletes are, pound for pound, some of the strongest in the world and when it comes to contests of strength relative to body weight, a lot of women weight lifters can outlift the men.
Weight lifting isn’t more or less dangerous for men or women, it’s about learning correct form and building up strength slowly which takes time and consistency in training for everyone regardless of gender.
3. You can’t lose weight from weight lifting
One of the most beneficial side effects of weight lifting is actually improved fat loss. A heavy weight training session actually leads to a higher and increased metabolic rate which means more calories burned which leads to greater fat loss. It also means that the more muscle you have the more calories you will burn over a day from even simple movements such as walking, and the only way to increase muscle? Through strength training.
4. You shouldn’t be lifting heavy if you want ‘tone’
Tone is a buzzword that is thrown around a lot in magazines and articles but it’s so misleading because the only way to get ‘tone’ is to have more muscle mass. The word ‘Tone’ is also used to imply you can spot reduce fat which again is not true.
The best way to gain muscle mass is through strength and heavy lifting which allows you to sculpt and tone your body and leads to a high metabolic rate which will in turn promote all over fat burn.
Take Home Message
If you do one thing this year let it be introducing strength training into your workouts. The biggest benefit from lifting heavy isn’t just the strong and powerful body that you’ll build but the mental strength, resistance and empowerment you’ll gain.
Lifting weights improves your self-confidence and self-image. In a world where society puts so much pressure on women to look a certain way the empowerment that comes from a lifting session or hitting a new PB for you is something, every woman needs to experience.