Weightlifting benefits for women are plentiful, yet many women still shy away from resistance training. It’s time to shift some long-held paradigms and have the world start reaping the many benefits of weight lifting for women.
Unfortunately, the popular myth that women who lift weights will get “big and bulky” has permeated society for as long as I can remember, and it’s unfortunate as resistance training is exactly what most women need. Still, women are still skirting the resistance training section of the gym for this very reason. Shrouded in mystery, weight training has long been associated with large, aggressive men, chalk dust flying through the air, grunts, groans, and yelling, and yes, big bulky muscles.
So…why would women suddenly want to partake in this sort of activity?
Well, as it turns out, weight training has many benefits both men and women can benefit from. However, for various reasons, it would behoove women to not just check out this typically male-dominated activity and the many benefits they can glean but to start training at least a couple of times a week.
6 Benefits of Weight Lifting for Women
1. Increase Bone Density
You’re probably well aware of the perils of osteoporosis. Loss of bone density is a real problem for many, especially women, as the years progress.
As you age, not only do you start to lose muscle mass (which is a big enough problem in and of itself) but you also begin to lose bone strength as well as bone density. The word osteoporosis literally means “porous bones.” If you don’t combat the onset of this condition, you’re setting yourself up for brittle bones and fractures.
And, to add insult to injury, many complications can arise when the elderly experience fractures, such as delayed healing and loss of strength, loss of autonomy, depression, and more.
Studies show that weightlifting literally has the ability to increase your bone mass and also to strengthen your bones. In a study conducted at McMaster University, researchers showed significant bone density improvement in post-menopausal women who sustained a lifestyle including regular resistance training over a two-year span. The study concluded that weight training is a useful and effective means of treating and helping to slow or prevent the development of osteoporosis.
2. Improve Your Body Image
Clearly, body image is part of a healthy lifestyle, and for many, the way they see themselves could be improved. With society’s focus on youthfulness and outer beauty, as you age, it can be sometimes be even more difficult to feel good about your body. This is where the benefits of weight lifting for women can help.
In a project called the “Strong Women Program” (a ten-week program for women 50 and over, which had them strength training twice a week), the participants showed remarkable improvements in health markers across the board. This evidence-based program was designed to help women get physically stronger, maintain their strength and abilities as they got older, and help them stay independent and self-reliant. These goals were achieved through regular weightlifting sessions and exercise routines.
Not only did this study show an uptick in body image, but women also reported enjoying exercise more than prior to the study and even willingly found themselves engaging in more exercise than before the study.
Gaining confidence and becoming self-sufficient is a big deal, and lifting weights can help you improve your body image.
3. Tone Up
Lifting weights does not always mean you’re trying to put on bulky muscle. Using resistance training is an exciting way to shape and tone your body. The fact that you can, quite literally, change the physical shape of areas of your body is practically mind-blowing. But, it’s true. You can do cardio sessions all day long or diet until the cows come home and you may eventually become a smaller version of your current self. If, however, your desire is to tone your muscles and add some sleek sexy shape to your frame, building muscle is the way to do it.
Side note: women do not naturally get “bulky” by weightlifting. Women only become fit, toned, and shapely. So, you can safely remove that outdated notion from your head.
4. Lose Body Fat
Muscle is a tissue which actively burns calories. Each year, as we age, we lose more and more muscle tissue. If you do nothing to combat such a loss, i.e. resistance training, then you will slowly gain more body fat over time. This will eventually lead to a greater ratio of body fat to muscle which, sadly, is an all-too-often seen downward spiral into obesity.
Besides ramping up your metabolism by adding additional muscle mass, there is more good news about the benefits of weight lifting for women. Did you know that weightlifting burns more calories than your typical group fitness class and, on average, more calories than steady state cardio?
And, perhaps even better, lifting weights allows you to continue to burn calories long after your weight-training sesh. A phenomenon known as EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption) allows you to continue your amped up calorie burning for hours after your workout is complete. This means a fired-up metabolism and greater calorie burning overall and on a long-term basis.
If your goal is to lose body fat, then adding three to five weight-training sessions a week to your fitness routine will be exactly the magic you need to achieve it.
5. Reduce Your Chances of Heart Disease
Yes, weightlifting benefits for women even go beyond the fat burning, bone strengthening, and image improvements. Your health can improve across the board, but in particular, you can reduce the chances of having heart problems. The American Heart Association recommends doing some form of resistance training at least twice a week to maintain optimal fitness.
6. Get Stronger
And, finally, who doesn’t just want to be a little bit stronger? Improved strength means you’ll be more self-sufficient, feel more confident, be able to bring in the groceries without breaking a sweat, potentially live longer, and more. Being stronger also likely means less injuries.
So, with all these exciting benefits of weight lifting for women, it just might be time to take another good look at that weight section in the gym after all.
Ready to get in shape by summer? I think you’ll love this 8-week workout plan!