Come on girls what are you waiting for? Time to hit the weights! And before any of you worry about it, create the wrong mental images and conjure inaccurate impressions – rest assured that you can still train like a lady and look like a lady. And the benefits are all good: Looks, functional fitness, fat stripping, strength, posture, bone strengthening…the list goes on. Lets take a look.
1. Fat loss
Resistance training increases lean muscle tissue. The more lean muscle you have, the higher your metabolism will be. It takes more energy (calories) for our bodies to maintain muscle as opposed to fat. The increase in resting metabolism created by resistance training causes our bodies to burn calories at rest, not just during a workout session. For women of middle age, this is particularly important. Strength training can help avoid that predicable metabolic sluggishness that often occurs at this stage in life. The same goes for yo-yo dieters whose metabolisms have suffered due to lack of proper calorific intake. Thus, the true secret to keeping extra unwanted pounds off is not to eat less, but to add in resistance training!RELATED: RECOMMENDED PLANS FOR YOU
2. Get lean without the bulk
The misconceived notion that if a woman lifts weights they will get ‘manly’ is false. The vast majority of women cannot build large muscles because they are genetically incapable of doing so. Some also believe that their fat may turn into muscle when they start to lift. It is impossible to turn fat into muscle, or muscle into fat, as each cell is unique from the other. Women have 10 to 30 times less of the hormones that men possess that cause muscle hypertrophy (growth). Yes, you will develop some added muscle tissue, but it will be that lean tissue that will give your metabolism a boost and help you to look more defined as a woman
3. Strength gain
Increasing your strength will make you far less dependent upon others for assistance in your daily-life. Simple tasks like carrying groceries, lifting your child and even cleaning your home become much easier. Research studies conclude that even moderate weight training can increase a woman’s strength by 30 to 50 percent. Research also shows that women can develop their strength at the same rate as men. You will also avoid injury as your maximum strength is increased as your soft tissue becomes more resilient.
As we age, we experience bone loss. Lifting heavy weights over time not only maintains bone mass, but can even build new bone, especially in the high-risk group of post-menopausal women. Research has found that weight training can increase spinal bone mineral density (and enhance bone modelling) by 13 percent in six months. Of course you will need proper calcium intake as well.
5. A reduced risk of heart disease
The number one killer of women is heart disease. Strengthening your heart will help fight against future heart complications. Studies show that weight training can improve cardiovascular health in several ways, including lowering LDL (‘bad’) cholesterol, increasing HDL (‘good’) cholesterol and lowering blood pressure. When cardiovascular exercise is added, these benefits are maximised.
6. Fight depression and boost positive attitude
When training hard, our bodies release ‘feel good’ hormones called endorphins. This is also known as a ‘natural high’. A Harvard study found that 10 weeks of strength training reduced clinical depression symptoms more successfully than standard counselling did. Women who strength train commonly report feeling more confident and capable as a result of their programme, all important factors in increasing feelings of overall wellbeing and fighting depression.
7. Improved athletic performance
Gaining strength through resistance training not only helps you to lift more actual weight, it even helps top athletes to perform their specific sport more efficiently. Studies show that golfers can significantly increase their driving power, cyclists are able to continue for longer periods of time with less fatigue and skiers have improved techniques and reduced injuries.
8. Reduce risk of diabetes
Sadly, this is a disease that is spreading like alarmingly with figures around the world on the rise and increased cases in ever younger children. Fortunately, resistance training can add some preventive protection. When studies were conducted on this topic, results showed that resistance training may improve the way the body processes sugar, which may reduce the risk of diabetes. Adult-onset diabetes is a growing problem for women and men. Research indicates that weight training can increase glucose utilisation in the body by 23 percent in four months.
9. You don’t need a gym membership
All you need is a set of dumbbells or something that can replicate dumbbells (drinks bottles, food time, bags of sugar/rice) and you can train in your home or outdoors. In fact you don’t need additional weights at all as we are permanently equipped with the ultimate weight – our body! You don’t have to be at the gym to experience a burn. This is convenient for new mothers, for people time poor thanks to work and/or home commitments and for many ladies who want to be in their own space as they train.
10. Protection for joints and ligaments injuries
Gaining strength isn’t the only thing that gets stronger as you resistance train, your ligaments and connective tissues get strengthened as well. You’ll therefore experience increased joint stability.
11. It’s not too late, you’re not too old
Whether you start training in your 20’s or in your 70’s, your body will still reap the same wonderful benefits of resistance training. The only difference will be, the amount lifted and intensity. It’s been shown that Women in their 70’s and 80’s have built up significant strength through weight training and other studies now show that strength improvements are possible at any age. A detailed piece of research in the USA gathered together a group of octogenarians (people in their 80`s) and put them on a series of exercise programmes covering the three key areas of cardiovascular, strength and mobility. After only six weeks the improvements across all areas were dramatic. The lowest measured enhancements were 80%. The resistance training programme harvested results across the board of 95-100%. Women’s bodies have shown to improve internally and externally at any age.
12. You will look and feel younger
As we age our skin tends to sag. Resistance training will not only firm up your muscles but your skin as well. The feeling of more energy, more strength and a fit physique also contributes to feeling younger.
With the above 12 amazing benefits for resistance training, you’d be unwise not to run to a set of weights and start lifting! No matter your fitness goal, resistance training can help you reach it, from beginner to advanced – it’s for us all!