When I first entered a weight room five years ago, my life changed forever. Lifting heavy objects and putting them down became more than just a past time, but a fundamental part of who I am. Weight lifting is about pushing oneself to the limits—achieving and exceeding the goals that you have set before yourself. You are competing against yourself to be the best that you can be. Ladies, don’t be afraid of the weight room! Lifting is one of the most overlooked and underutilized aspects of women’s fitness, yet yields the best and most timely results.
What are the physical benefits of weight lifting?
- Increased Metabolism— Weight lifters burn more calories while at rest. A pound of muscle burns 30-50 calories per day, whereas a pound of fat burns only 2-5 calories.
- Lose Inches— Muscle is more dense that fat, and thus takes up less space. By gaining muscle and simultaneously losing fat, many inches may be lost in the process, even if the scale does not lower.
- Get Sexy Curves— Lifting creates an athletic, lean, toned, and tight physique. Cardio is great for fat loss and heart health, but without muscles underneath, there will be no “toning”. Cuts and definition come from lifting heavy and often.
- Increase Bone Density— As women age, it is increasingly important to combat osteoporosis and frail bones, which can be done effectively through weight lifting.
- Anti-Aging Properties— The average person loses 7% of their lean body mass every ten years after the age of 20, which is why many people see a decrease in metabolic activity. Maintain the muscle and you will maintain your metabolism.
- Better Neural Function— Balance and coordination improves with free weight lifting, as well as flexibility and core development.
- Increased Insulin Sensitivity— Food will be stored as glycogen in your muscles and liver rather than fat cells.
- Higher Sex Drive— After fat loss and increased exercise, blood flow to sex organs is increased, along with the stimulation of sex hormones, added with more energy plus better self-image and esteem.
- More Confidence— Along with better aesthetics, achieving and pushing your limits builds self-worth and pride.
- Increase Strength— This one is pretty much a given. ;)
Sexy curves? So you’re telling me I won’t turn into Arnold Schwarzenegger?
No. Men have much higher levels of free testosterone (200 to 1200 nanograms per deciliter) than women (15 to 70 nanograms per deciliter). Therefore, it is physiologically and hormonally impossible for most women to put on the same muscle mass as a man. In order for a woman to “bulk up”, she would need to increase her testosterone level (i.e. anabolic steroids) and increase her dietary intake drastically, in addition to following a rigorous lifting schedule for many, many years because muscle mass takes a long time to pack on.
How do I get started?
The best way to get started with weight lifting is to work with a personal trainer or someone who has experience in the weight room. Always remember— proper form is more important than the amount you are lifting. However, if you do not have access to a trainer, check out one of these options:
Starting Strength The Female Training Bible ExRx /r/xxfitness
There is no difference between how a woman and a man should train, so don’t be afraid to look on ‘male-oriented’ websites for tips and advice. Most are more than happy to help!
How often should I lift?
Please take note that strong muscles are not built in the weight room— they are built during rest! Ensure that you are leaving yourself enough time for the muscles to repair themselves. Most people lift 2 to 5 days per week. Listen to your body when you are first starting out— don’t be too rigorous. Safety comes first. It is best to never work out the same muscle groups on two consecutive days, so make sure your split is varied (i.e. lower body, upper body, rest day, lower body, upper body, rest day, rest day). There are some example splits on the Female Training Bible listed above if you need more guidance. Also, I am here to answer lifting questions, so feel free to ask questions!
How can I achieve the best results possible?
As with any exercise program, it is best to incorporate strength training, cardiovascular activity, stretching/yoga, and most importantly, a nutritional diet. Weight lifting requires that you eat an adequate amount of food per day, or else muscle mass cannot be gained. In a clinical study, researchers found that women who lifted only two times per week lost up to 3% body fat even if they did not change their dietary intake by a single calorie. Don’t be afraid to consume what your body needs, especially protein and healthy fats. Eat clean and lift heavy.
Sources: [Raw Fitness] [Nick Mitchell] [Women’s Health] [Cathe] [Ezine] [BodyBuilding.com]