It’s a common sight at the gym: men crowded around the weights station, trying to see who can lift more; women sweating it out on the treadmills, obsessed with weight loss. Traditionally, this has been the standard approach to exercise for men and women. Trying to gain muscle for men and trying to lose fat for women.
The more we learn about how different we all are, and therefore how different our exercise needs are, the more these outdated gym attitudes change. With yoga, crossfit, personal trainers and millions of different programs, we have never had so many different ways to exercise. It’s easier than ever before to find something that works for you. But old habits die hard, and as women, our physical appearance remains a key factor.
For the most part, we are still obsessed with cardio and we avoid weights like the plague.
Cardiovascular exercise is still very important for some, but weight training can have incredible benefits for women.
Why women should lift weights.
Weight training is a great way to improve muscle mass and build strength. Now I know what you’re thinking: ‘muscle mass’ and ‘strength’ sound like manly man things and you don’t want to look like a man, but hear me out.
Building strength can make day-to-day activities, like chores and running after the kids, easier to manage. It also increases your metabolism, which helps burn more calories during rest. Finally, it increase bone mineral density, reducing injury and keeping your body as strong as you age. All these benefits are fantastic and the best part is you won’t end up looking like Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson.
Stronger but not bigger.
Research has found that even moderate weight training can increase a woman’s strength by over 30%, the same rate as men, sometimes even outpacing them in strength gain. The notion that female bodies are not made to lift weights is nonsense! With weight training, we can improve our strength just as well as the menfolk but without ending up with manly biceps.
This is because women have 10 to 30 times less of the hormones that cause muscle hypertrophy (increase size of muscle cells) than men do. Because of our hormones we are unlikely to develop the bulky muscles men can. We tend to develop a more slim and toned body instead. So we get stronger without necessarily looking stronger.
It helps with weight loss.
I have four words for you: increased resting metabolic rate. Lifting weights and improving your strength means that you increase the rate at which you burn calories while not exercising. Weight training also decreases leptin hormone release (hormone that controls hunger), and increases adiponectin hormone release (regulates glucose and fatty acid breakdown). All of this helps with caloric management throughout the day and ultimately helps shed some fat.
It’s good for your bones too.
As the body ages, skeletal muscle mass tends to decrease. Resistance exercises, like weight training, can slow down this process and help maintain a stronger body with better quality of muscle tissues and maintenance of bone mineral density as we age. There are many reasons why the body becomes weaker with age (including hormonal changes, increase of proinflammatory cytokines, lipotoxicity, or metabolic changes), but staying physically active and working on strength training can attenuate this decline with age.
Lifting weights will not necessarily make you look like Arnold Schwarzenegger, but it will make you stronger, help you burn fat, and keep your bones healthy as you age. With benefits like that why wouldn’t you try it!
For the best exercise and weight training approach for your unique body check out ph360.
Folland, Jonathan P., and Alun G. Williams. “Morphological and neurological contributions to increased strength.” Sports medicine 37.2 (2007): 145-168.
Kalapotharakos, Vasilios I., et al. “Effects of a heavy and a moderate resistance training on functional performance in older adults.” The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research 19.3 (2005): 652-657.
Hubal, MONICA J., et al. “Variability in muscle size and strength gain after unilateral resistance training.” Med Sci Sports Exerc 37.6 (2005): 964-72.
Kim, Jeong-su, James M. Cross, and Marcas M. Bamman. “Impact of resistance loading on myostatin expression and cell cycle regulation in young and older men and women.” American Journal of Physiology-Endocrinology and Metabolism 288.6 (2005): E1110-E1119.
Phillips, Stuart M. “Physiologic and molecular bases of muscle hypertrophy and atrophy: impact of resistance exercise on human skeletal muscle (protein and exercise dose effects).” Applied physiology, nutrition, and metabolism 34.3 (2009): 403-410.
Goodpaster, Bret H., et al. “The loss of skeletal muscle strength, mass, and quality in older adults: the health, aging and body composition study.” The Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences61.10 (2006): 1059-1064.
Suominen, Harri. “Muscle training for bone strength.” Aging clinical and experimental research 18.2 (2006): 85-93.
Potteiger, Jeffrey A., et al. “Changes in resting metabolic rate and substrate oxidation after 16 months of exercise training in overweight adults.”International journal of sport nutrition and exercise metabolism 18.1 (2008): 79.
Fatouros, I. G., et al. “Leptin and adiponectin responses in overweight inactive elderly following resistance training and detraining are intensity related.” The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism 90.11 (2005): 5970-5977.
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