When it comes to exercise, one of the more common misconceptions women hear is that strength training, or lifting weights, will make them look bulky or “manly.” Strength training is one of the best ways for women to impact their physique. Cardio exercise might make you lose weight by burning calories, but strength training will tone and shape your body by building muscle and burning calories. Before you imagine yourself deadlifting 200 pounds at the gym, you don’t need to lift heavy weights to strength train. There are plenty of bodyweight-only exercises that you can perform that will build muscle!
Strength training builds lean muscle while burning calories – the perfect combination! In fact, more muscle mass creates a faster metabolism since muscles are metabolically active, meaning they burn calories while at rest and during exercise. Plus, if you’ve lost weight, strength training can help maintain your weight loss results while building upon the existing muscle. Still not sold? Here are six more reasons why women should implement strength training into their exercise routine.
You’ll burn more fat
When you do an intense weight training session, your metabolism stays elevated and you continue to burn both calories and fat for up to 48 hours after your workout is over. During regular cardio exercise, you stop burning calories and fat shortly after you finish your workout. According to a study done by researchers at Tufts University, overweight women who lifted heavy weights twice per week lost an average of 14.6 pounds of fat and gained 1.4 pounds of muscle. The control group, women who dieted but did not lift weights, lost 9.2 pounds of fat, and gained no muscle.
It can improve your heart health
Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in the United States. Weight training increases your “good” (HDL) cholesterol and decreases your “bad” (LDL) cholesterol while also lowering your blood pressure. Pump that iron and keep your heart pumping!
You’ll have more energy and a better mood throughout the day
If you feel wiped out after a session on the treadmill, you’ll notice a difference in the way you feel after lifting weights. Endorphins released through strength training give you a boost of those feel-good chemicals and lowers the stress hormone cortisol. You’ll notice a reduction in both stress and anxiety and feel pumped to take on the day.
It’ll boost your brain health
Regular exercise, whether it’s cardio activity or weight training, can help protect your memory and delay cognitive decline. Research has shown that 70-150 minutes of weekly exercise led to improved cognitive ability in older individuals.
It can improve the way you think about, and view, your body
Many women report that they use exercise to make up for the food they eat, or exercise with the goal of weight loss in mind. By changing your goal to building strength instead of losing fat, you’ll remove the pressure that you place on your appearance and instead will focus on making your body (and mind!) stronger.
Strength training could help you live longer
In a 2019 review published by Frontiers in Physiology, researchers found that strength training might be more effective than cardio exercise at reducing the risk of age-related chronic diseases. Strength training will build and maintain the muscles that you need in everyday life – think of bending down to pick things up, carrying groceries from your car to your kitchen, and playing with your children or grandchildren.
Like any exercise routine, it’s best to start slow and work your way up in both intensity and weight. It’s always best to consult your doctor before beginning a new exercise regimen, especially if you have any pre-existing conditions such as arthritis, heart disease, kidney disease, or high blood pressure. If you’ve overdone it and are experiencing symptoms of dehydration, back pain, muscle strain, or sprain, the healthcare professionals at StarMed Healthcare are here to help. Open 365 days per year with walk-ins welcomed, StarMed is here for you when you need us. To find a location near you, visit starmed.care/locations/