Your exercise routine is incomplete without strength training. But many women think that lifting weights will make them muscular like men. Not true! Women do not produce as much testosterone, a hormone that drives muscle growth, as men. The fact is, strength training will help tone your body and make you look and feel 10-15 years younger. And I am not making that up! Research shows that adult women feel great and are more energetic when they lift weights (1), (2), (3). It also offers many physical and mental health benefits that you should take full advantage of (4). So, if you are skeptical about lifting weights, here are 15 reasons that will change your mind. Swipe up!
15 Reasons Women Should Lift Weights
1. Burns More Fat And Calories
Strength training or lifting weights should be added to your workout because cardio with diet can lead to both fat and muscle loss. By training with weights, you will only burn fat and be able to burn more calories in a short period as compared to cardio. Moreover, when you strength train, your body remains in the fat burning mode long after you have left the gym. This is known as Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC) effect. This doesn’t happen when you do low-intensity cardio (5).
2. Tones The Body
Lifting weights can help you get a toned and sleek body. And by “toned,” I mean building lean muscle mass. American scientists found that by doing a mixed workout, which includes cardio and strength training, participants in the experiment were able to burn more fat and build lean muscle mass (6). When you build lean muscle mass, no matter what your body shape is, you will look fabulous and fit. For example, the original Queen of Curves, Jennifer Lopez mixes cardio and strength training in their workout routine. And that’s why she has the right amount of fat and muscle according to her body type, shape, and age.
3. Decreases The Risk Of Muscle Loss
Your body starts losing muscle mass right after you hit 30 years of age. And when that happens, your skin becomes loose, and your buttocks, belly, chin, arms, shoulders, and chest sag. Unless you start taking the precautions right from your late 20s, I can tell you that you will be carrying a whole lot of unwanted baggage. And the one and the only way you can prevent that is by lifting weights. A report published in Science Daily showed that muscle loss was greater in people who only did cardio, but those who mixed cardio and strength training burned more fat and were able to prevent muscle loss (7).
4. Reduces The Risk Of Injuries
Strength training or lifting weights can also help prevent the risk of injuries. The muscles, bones, ligaments, and tendons are all strengthened when you strength train. In fact, the production of collagen, the primary fiber of connective tissue, increases when you lift weights. As a result, your bones are less fragile, and muscles are strong, preventing the risk of injuries (8).
5. Boosts Metabolism
Your metabolism will slow down as you age. And as a result, you will gain weight and find it very difficult to lose the excess pounds. And to revert/prevent that, lifting weights is highly recommended. Why? Because there’s a direct relation between your metabolism and muscle mass. Your muscles have mitochondria, which convert glucose to the usable form of energy. With muscle loss, the number of mitochondria will decrease, resulting in slowed down metabolism. Since strength training builds lean muscle mass and prevents age-related muscle loss, the number of mitochondria in the cells will not decrease (9). And your metabolism will remain perfect.
6. Reduces The Risk Of Diabetes
Diabetes is one of those diseases that has crippled everyone, regardless of their age. And guess what can protect you from this fatal disease and going on a boring, restrictive diet for the rest of your life? Yup! Strength training. A team of scientists led by Dr. José D. Botezelli conducted an experiment on participants on a high-fructose diet. They found that those who included strength training in their workout regimen showed greater glucose tolerance, increased insulin sensitivity, reduced inflammation, and improved lipid profile (10).
7. Helps Protect The Heart
Cardio may not be your first choice if you have a heart condition. But scientists have proved that by lifting weights, patients can improve and protect their heart (11), (12). In fact, patients with coronary artery disease (CAD) can improve their heart rate variability (HRV), heart muscle strength, and endurance (13).
8. Corrects Bad Posture
Bad posture is something that most of us are guilty of. But you can improve your posture by lifting weights and following the right way to strength train. Lifting weights will help you build bone and muscle strength. As a result, slouching and bending will all be canceled out.
9. Improves Muscle Strength And Power
Your muscle strength and muscle power are improved when you lift weights or strength train. Scientists at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro found that older women improved their muscle capacity and strength by doing resistance training or strength training (14). In another study by Brazilian scientists, three days per week of circuit strength training helped the participants lose fat and improved functional performance (15).
10. An Effective Energy Booster
When you lift weights at the gym or home, you will notice a huge difference in your energy levels throughout the day. And that’s because every fiber of your muscles will awaken and work effectively to utilize the food in the form of energy. This helps you shed the fat and reduces inflammation in your body, which will help you lose weight and feel light and agile.
11. Helps You Get Curves
This is the best part of lifting weights. No workout can give you curves like strength training. Since lifting weights can help you build lean muscle mass, you will be able to shed fat and add toned curves to certain areas of your body. Use dumbbells, barbells, resistance bands, or your body weight. By doing full-body strength training, you will get the right amount of curves in the right area. Nothing like it, right?
12. Increases Flexibility
Lifting weights can help improve muscle flexibility. And that’s because the repeated stretching and contracting motion not only helps build strong muscles and bones but also improves the flexibility. So, target various body parts with strength training along with other stretching exercises to maximize the benefits of lifting weights.
13. Enhances Sports Fitness
Sports fitness depends on muscle and bone strength, muscle power, endurance capacity, and quick reflex. If you are aiming to become fit in a certain sport, you must do strength training along with cardio to improve your performance. Lifting weights has a positive impact on your heart health and connective tissues and will help improve your stamina, reflex, and muscle power.
14. Relieves Stress
In general, exercising has a positive effect on mental health. When you lift weights for at least two days per week, your entire focus is on doing the reps properly without injuring yourself. And when your mind is not thinking about work or home, it will lower anxiety, alleviate depression, and have a stress-relieving effect. Moreover, when you build muscles and slowly see your body change from flab to fab, you will feel pumped up and be ready to let go of worries and focus more on the positives in your life (16), (17).
15. Improves Sleep Quality
After spending so much time at the gym working on your body, of course, you will sleep like a baby! And while you sleep, your muscles will rebuild and rejuvenate themselves. American scientists have also reported that older men and women, who generally have difficulty falling asleep, reported better sleep after strength training (18). So, if you tend to sleep late and wake up late, you’ve got to lift weights.
These are the 15 benefits of lifting weights. Get rid of the “I am a woman, I should not lift weights” mindset and kick some ass at the gym. There’s no high like improving your physical and mental fitness over a period. It’s your time NOW. Because tomorrow is too late. Cheers!
Expert’s Answers for Readers Questions
Can I lose belly fat by lifting weights?
Yes, you can. But you must also include cardio in your routine to help mobilize the fat.
Is it good to lift weights every day?
It is best to lift weights every two days. Your muscles need time to recover. If you lift weights every day, you will end up injuring yourself.
How many days a week should I lift weights?
You can lift weights 2-3 times per week.
Charushila is an ISSA Certified Specialist in Fitness & Nutrition and a full-time contributor to Diet & Weight Loss at Stylecraze. She believes that food has healing powers and eating good food is the best way to lose weight. A binge eater-turned-fitness enthusiast, Charushila likes to share her knowledge and experience with the world. When she is not working, she loves to cook healthy food, watch movies, travel, workout, and read Bengali literature.