As a personal trainer and coach, women ask me all the time, “Why should I lift weights? Will it make me look bulky or masculine?”
The answer is NO!
In my experience, a lot of clients are looking to lose weight or body fat, feel more fit or better about their bodies, or have more energy. Lifting weights can improve all of these things. Unfortunately, many people have built up a fear of lifting weights to the point they are resistant to try it. Hopefully with a little more knowledge on why we should lift we can change this perception.
One of the biggest advantages to lifting weights is your body’s ability to burn calories post exercise. After strength training, your muscles continue to consume additional oxygen in the hours and even days that follow. When your body uses more oxygen it requires more caloric expenditure and increases your metabolic rate. Quite simply, your body will burn calories whilst lifting the weights but also in the hours to follow. This is different than the calorie burn that occurs with cardiovascular exercise, where you accumulate the largest calorie burn at the time of your workout and only directly after. A study published by the National Institute of Health suggests that the increase in energy expenditure after a resistance training session (even a minimal one) may favorably affect energy balance and fat oxidation.
Daily muscle contractions from a simple blink to a heavy squat contribute to how many calories you burn in a given day, and as you increase strength and lean muscle mass your body uses calories more efficiently.
With resistance training, you will gain not only additional calorie burn post workout, but you will also gain improved body tone. Resistance training builds lean tissue – what most women like to define as a ‘toned body.’ If you choose only cardiovascular exercise, you will lose fat for sure, but it is likely you will lose muscle too, decreasing the chances of gaining lean tissue and achieving that ‘toned’ look you were after.
But that’s not all! Strength training is said to improve sleep quality by aiding in your ability to get to sleep faster and sleep deeper. Additionally, resistance training can improve overall energy levels. Other benefits to weight training include improved heart health, stress relief and greater bone density. Resistance training is a great way to combat loss of bone mass and decreases the risk of osteoporosis.
A few additional positive effects I have noticed with my clients include:
- Improved postural awareness brought about by resistance training: my clients stand a bit taller, prouder and more confidently.
- My clients are proud of their improved ability to lift a bit heavier or try a more challenging movement.
- Clients notice their figure changing and developing into the shape they hoped for.
- Clients feel great in their clothes.
- Clients report compliments from partners/friends/family/colleagues and are proud to tell them they enjoy lifting weights.
- Improved lifestyle – clients are able to lift and move things more efficiently, play with grandchildren, and are in better condition for any sporting activities they like to do.
- Clients sleep better and feel more relaxed.
There are numerous winning effects of resistance training, which why I will continue to train my clients and myself this way.