I thought I would just put this topic to bed once and for all. I get asked almost on a daily basis how I train, and when I say I lift weights, I am met with this face of confusion, disbelief and fear. But the reality is ladies, lifting a decent weight (not those tiny dinky 1kg weights!) is what is standing between you and that body you have always wanted.
But that’s not the only benefit of lifting…
1. You want curves don’t you?
Most females feel that the best way to shape their body and achieve a more toned look is by spending hours doing low-intensity cardio – not only is this way of training dead boring, it is also not the most effective way to achieve a good physique. The reality is that the best way to “bring out your curves” is to build strength and muscle. If you did do endless amounts of cardio and refrained from picking up a weight, you will have lowered your bodyweight but increased your body-fat percentage (i.e. you will look “skinny-fat”). Don’t give in to the idea that you need to be a “cardio bunny” in order to be lean and toned.
2. Burn more Calories
A good challenging weight training session can actually boost your metabolic rate throughout the day, which in turn makes you more efficient at burning body-fat when you’re not exercising.
3. Speed Up Fat-loss
The body is a very clever machine, as it gets to learn your routine, it adapts and eventually becomes immune to the same way in which you train. Having a workout plan that relies only on cardio for weight-loss will eventually lose its efficacy. A study recently published in the Journal of Applied Physiology showed that concurrent training (combining weight and endurance training) greatly enhanced the metabolic effects of each mode of training on their own.
4. You’ll be bursting with energy!
Weight training has a huge positive impact on your general demeanor and your energy levels throughout the day. It’s not uncommon to feel completely wiped out and lifeless after spending hours on the treadmill; lifting, on the other hand actually boosts “feel-good” chemicals in the brain. In fact, studies show that the heavy weight exercise protocols appear to greatly increase plasma beta-endorphin concentration, which in turn affects mood in a positive manner.
5. Better heart health and insulin sensitivity
Most women make the mistake of thinking that aerobic exercise is the best way to train the heart. While that is true, combining aerobic exercise with weight training actually has been shown to do those factors just as effectively, if not more so. Not only does weight training reduce Low-Density Lipoproteins (LDL), which is often referred to as “unhealthy” cholesterol, but also it elevates serum values of high-density lipoproteins (which is “healthy” cholesterol). Moreover, weight training is one of the most effective ways to increase insulin sensitivity. This essentially means that your body is more efficient at utilizing carbohydrates for energy and assisting the muscle-building process, as opposed to storing them and being converted to fat.
So bottom line is – If you want to enjoy some junk food without feeling guilty, lift some weights!
6. Improves mental health
We all know that feeling all too well, feeling depressed about putting on a few more kilos, so we decide to hit the cardio machines hard. However, weight training has been shown to greatly reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety in a number of studies. I found when I started lifting weights it improved my body image and self-esteem.
7. Improves libido
The female body produces large amounts of oestrogen which is the primary sex hormone they produce. However, women also produce small amounts of testosterone (the primary male sex hormone) and it appears that boosting testosterone levels in females improves their sex drive and well-being.
Weight training is one of the most effective ways to naturally elevate testosterone levels in both males and females. Calm down now, this does NOT mean you will suddenly get all hairy and grow a beard just because you lift a few times a week, because that is certainly far from what will happen. The slight elevation in testosterone levels that can be achieved via weight training will serve to enhance your sex life and keep you in a positive mood. On the other hand – long-duration cardio (over 1 hour) may do just the opposite and decrease testosterone levels.
8. Bone health improves
Low bone mass is a major risk factor for fractures in females, and one of the most effective ways to reverse degeneration of bones is to consistently train with weights. The take-home point is that if you want to keep your bones healthy and strong, choose the weight training over cardio.
9. Better sleep quality
Now, in theory, we are meant to get 6-8 hours of sleep per night. But if you’re like me, this rarely ever happens. Numerous studies have shown that a sustained exercise regimen incorporating weight training can greatly improve sleep quality and the duration of sleep. In fact, weight training provides an effective natural alternative to pharmaceutical interventions in patients with insomnia.
10. Weight training with heavy resistance, WILL NOT make you bulky!
One of the most annoying myths is the idea that females who train with relatively heavy weights will suddenly transform into the female equivalent of The Incredible Hulk. Reality is that females should train with heavy weights just like their male counterparts often do and no it won’t make you “bulky” and deepen your voice.
If a female really wanted to get “bulky” they would have to eat like a pig and put in years of intense training just like any other person, regardless their gender, would have to… nobody just blows up their muscle size by accident.
So there you have it, 10 of the top reasons females should stop fearing weights and give the cardio room a break. Of course cardio is still worthwhile in almost any female’s exercise regimen, but weight training should be the focus; don’t worry, you won’t get “bulky” overnight just because you start lifting more.
Happy Healthy Fabulous
Photography: Tegan Smith
Main Feature Image : Alpha Haven