We want to address the misconception that women should not lift weights, and explain some of the benefits for women of including weight training into their fitness programme.
There is a huge misconception held among many women that weightlifting will turn women ‘hench’. This is not the case, and it is this myth which often prevents women getting the results they want as they live in fear of the free weights area. So let's look at 8 reason why women SHOULD lift weights.
Hopefully this article will change the way you will view the GymNation free weights area and put aside misconceptions and doubts as we look at the top 8 reasons why women should lift weights.
1. Be stronger without getting huge
A basic rule is that a stronger muscle is a bigger muscle and a bigger muscle is a stronger muscle. The more muscle fibres you have means the more you can recruit to exert force, with the more force exerted overtime when combined with rest and smart nutrition leading to muscle growth. What you need to understand is that whilst some growth of muscle is inevitable, you will only promote serious muscle growth through a certain type of weight training combined with a high protein, calorie surplus diet. This routine is more commonly known as bodybuilding. Unless of course you really want to add significant mass, lifting weights whilst keeping your diet balanced will enable you to get stronger whilst the size you gain will be minimal yet enough to make you look just that little bit sexier.
2. More muscle = less fat
Whilst the first point has outlined that you won’t end up looking like a female bodybuilder, you will always gain some amount of additional mass when training with weight. The great news is that more muscle means less fat. You naturally burn more calories maintaining muscle than you do maintaining fat therefore, the more muscle you have means that your body will burn through more calories throughout the day to maintain it even whilst at rest.
3. Burn fat after training
There is something within the world of physical training known as the ‘afterburn’ effect or more precisely, EPOC. (Excess post-exercise oxygen consumption) After your workout your body needs to perform a multitude of tasks to return you back to a rested state. These tasks include but are not limited to; replenishment of oxygen, removal of lactic acid, replenishment of ATP (energy stores) and the start of muscular repair. Depending on the intensity of your workout your body will require a certain amount of calories to perform these tasks therefore, if you’ve just spent thirty minutes plodding on a treadmill, your afterburn effect will be minimal, whereas if you’ve just completed a high intensity lifting session you can expect those fat stores to be called upon well after you’ve left the gym and sunk your recovery protein shake.
4. Reduce your risk of heart disease
Your heart, just like your biceps is a muscle however, if your biceps are no longer able to assist in the use of your arms, the repercussions in the grander scheme are minimal. On a much more sobering note, if the heart becomes unable to continue its duty then the consequences are far more severe than not being able to walk the dog. The heart is a pump responsible for shifting oxygen rich blood to where it’s needed, pushing de-oxygenated blood back to the lungs to re-oxygenate followed by repeating this process therefore keeping you alive. Heart disease comes in a multitude of forms however the most common forms are normally issues caused by poor maintenance of said pump. Whilst aerobic exercise is an effective tool in maintaining and improving the hearts ability to function, resistance training has been found to lead to a longer lasting drop in blood pressure whilst increasing blood flow into active muscles. The point to take away is that weight training is one of the most effective ways of minimising your chances of heart disease.
5. Improve confidence
Most of my female clients will often come to me asking for training and diet plans to ‘tone up’. My first response is to ask, what exactly does toning up mean? The reply is often confused and misinformed. The toning up that most females seek is simply increased muscular definition whilst dropping body fat therefore creating that look they’ve always wanted. Unfortunately, dropping body fat through a huge caloric deficit will not make you look the way you had in mind and it’s certainly not healthy. If your attempt at looking great on the beach this summer involves cutting calories considerably then perhaps you should reconsider. The NHS defines that a diet that involves eating 800 calories a day or fewer should only be undertaken for 12 continuous weeks or intermittently. Cutting calories significantly can cause health problems such as gallstones, heart problems and other issues associated with not getting the micro nutrition you need, such as tiredness and anaemia .Dropping body fat whilst increasing muscle mass through a sound weight training programme is by far the better way to go and will eventually lead to a much better look therefore giving you a colossal confidence boost.
6. Stress Relief
Exercise and physical training has been and will always be an effective way to manage and even completely remove stress and anxiety. Research has consistently found that those who regularly perform one form or another of strength or weight training tend to manage stress better than their treadmill favouring counterparts and experience fewer adversarial reactions to stressful situations.
Additionally, further studies on adults aged between 20 to 30 shows that moderate intensity weight training improves both short and long term memory and cognitive function. There is no avoiding stress entirely however instead of reaching for that glass of wine perhaps consider a barbell instead.
7. Increased Energy
As previously outlined, weight training causes an increase in energy expenditure for some time after you train (afterburn effect). Studies published by the National Institute of Health suggest that the increase in energy expenditure following a resistance training session, may positively influence energy balance and fat oxidation. In basic terms, it’s likely that the reason you feel lethargic for most of the time is ironically because you don’t move enough.
8. Defy age
There a quite a few anti-aging products on the market today most of which claim to defy the rules of physics by reversing the process of gravity. Whilst the power of advertising is partly to blame I can only advise you to save your money and perhaps opt for a more proven and time tested method to blast away those lines and wrinkles. The method I speak of is weight training. Human aging is associated with a loss of muscle, deficit in muscular strength, and impairment in performing some activities of daily life. Typically, these changes start to occur at the age of 40, and progressively worsen with aging. After 26 weeks of resistance training researchers identified 179 genes associated with the aging process with exercise showing a reversal of the gene expression. This means that the resistance training was not only slowing, but also reversing the aging process.
There will always be misconceptions when it comes to girls who weight train and perhaps for the foreseeable future it will continue to be a male dominated area however, it is my hope that after reading this article you now feel better informed and ready to take on a new training method. All in all weight training has the potential to not only significantly improve your life but also assist in safeguarding you against health complications now and in older age.
So ladies next time you are in GymNation, Dubai's best gym with over 500 pieces of equipment, please do not be scared of the weight training area. And if you need a bit of help understanding what type of weight training you should do to achieve your goals then speak to one of our Personal Trainers who will be happy to help guide you. If you don't feel comfortable in the mix weights training zone then you can always get started in our GymNatiobn Ladies Only Gym which is fully equipped with free weights and strength machines.