It's about time we talked about the brilliant benefits of weight training for women—because way too many women are missing out on them.
Women often shy away from lifting weights for a number of reasons, from fear of bulking up to thinking they're not strong enough, but none of these fears hold any weight (pun intended). The fact is, weight training is an ultra-effective way for women and men to get in great shape.
I've been training in the gym for 18 years, and I've seen hundreds of people come and go of all different body shapes and sizes. And the women who work out with barbells, dumbbells, and put a big focus on strength and resistance training are the ones with the toned, strong bodies.
Here are 11 reasons every woman should lift weights:
1. You'll gain muscle and burn fat.
By developing your muscles through weight training, your body automatically becomes more efficient at burning fat. For every single pound of muscle gained, your body burns 30 to 50 more calories just to maintain it.
Forget about "becoming bulky"—that won't happen. Women bodybuilders who end up with the bulky, overdeveloped bodies consume large amounts of calories, supplements, and have been training intensely for long periods (years, in many cases).
2. You'll get stronger.
Training with heavy weights leads to a stronger body that's less susceptible to injury, which means taking on daily activities that require any form of lifting get easier.
3. Your butt will tone up.
Not to get too superficial here, but weight training exercises can perform miracles on your butt. Three exercises have proved this time and again when it comes to a firmer, more shapely butt: barbell squats, dead lifts, and hip thrusters. These moves are extremely effective for strengthening and toning the glutes, helping to sculpt your butt like no other exercises.
4. Your metabolism will speed up.
Weight training speeds up your metabolism, and this heightened "afterburn" effect can continue for more than 24 hours after you finish your workout. This means more calories are being used up. And remember, as you gradually gain more muscle, your body naturally burns more calories, too. Longer term, your body's calorie requirements will increase through regular weight training.
While you should aim for a caloric deficit at first, if fat burning is your goal, you'll eventually get to the stage where you can actually eat more because you've turned your body into a fat-burning machine.
5. Your bones will get stronger.
Bone mass begins to decline gradually with age, but women are four times more likely than men to develop osteoporosis. Weight training builds bone density, and the National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends weight training two or three times per week to build and strengthen bones.
6. Weight training fights heart disease.
Weight training strengthens not only your muscles but also your ticker. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends weight training at least twice per week to improve heart health. The AHA also advises that lifting weights can reduce the chances of people having another heart attack
7. Your workouts will become more enjoyable.
No matter what stage you're at—a complete beginner or fairly experienced gym-goer—you can achieve rapid gains in strength through weight training. This will leave you excited and absolutely buzzing.
With other forms of exercise, it's hard to see noticeable results as quickly. The initial progress in strength will please you and make your workouts more enjoyable. This means you're more likely to stick with the program in the long run and see noticeable changes in your body.
8. Weight training strengthens the mind.
Probably the most underrated benefit of weight training is how amazing it is for the mind. A healthy body means a healthy mind because the two are absolutely connected.
Exercise releases endorphins—feel-good chemicals in the brain—to boost your mood and relieve excess stress. Staying committed to a weight training program and experiencing these benefits regularly helps maintain a more balanced you.
9. Your confidence will increase.
The stronger mind and stronger body go hand in hand, and these naturally result in increased confidence. Weight training gives you so many reasons to feel good about yourself—looking healthier, becoming fitter and stronger, reducing risk of disease, and hitting exercise goals.
These all add to an increased sense of self-worth, which will have a positive impact on other areas of your life outside the gym.
10. Your chance of injury will decrease.
If you perform weight training exercises correctly, you don't need to worry about getting injured in the gym. More importantly, they will also cut your risk of injury outside of the gym. This is because lifting iron strengthens tendons and ligaments, and develops both bone and muscle strength.
11. You can ditch the treadmill.
If you're burning out on the treadmill, here's something to think about: Weight training provides cardiovascular benefits and will help you develop a better, stronger, more athletic physique.
What are you waiting for? Get lifting!