Weight training has been popular among men for years, with many looking to bulk up and build muscle mass. However, media portrayals and social stigma mean that many women have steered clear of the weights due to fears of getting too ‘bulky’. This is now all changing as more and more people from every gender as seeing the impressive benefits of incorporating weight training into their gym time.
In the last decade, the popularity of weight training in women has increased dramatically as more and more of us are beginning to understand the real benefits. If you are wondering if women should weight train, then read on as we share some of the advantages of incorporating weights into your workout routine.
What Is Weight Training?
Before we dive into the many reasons why weight training is excellent for women and men, we want to clarify precisely what it is. Weight training is often confused with strength training, but the two are different. When we talk about weight training, it means using weights to train and improve your general health and fitness.
Strength training is more specific and has a focus on building muscle mass and getting stronger; this is usually with the help of an expert trainer. Weight training can be done by anyone, either at a gym or at home, as long as you have some weights available to you. You often have the choice of either free weights or weight machines, but both can be used for weight training. Bodyweight exercises such as push-ups, planks and pull-ups can also be used for a weight training workout.
Why Should Women Weight Train?
Some women believe they should avoid weight training because they don’t want chiselled calves and bulging biceps. Science has proven that weight training is good for both the body and mind, and it rarely results in huge muscles, without hours of dedication. Depending on what you want to see from your body, such as significant muscle, weight loss or lean muscle tone, there is a weight training programme to suit. Here are the top 5 reasons why women should weight train;
Burn More Calories
Whether you are working out to lose weight, tone up or improve your overall fitness, weight training is a great addition. Cardio workouts might burn more calories in a 30-minute session, but weight training can burn more overall. This is because weight training will build muscle and your body uses more energy to maintain muscle mass than fat. When you weight train regularly, you will build muscle mass and improve your metabolism, helping your body to be more efficient in burning fat.
Maintain Muscle Mass
Not only does weight training help to build muscle mass, but it also maintains it. Research has shown that after the age of 30, you will start to lose between 3% to 5% of muscle mass per decade. Muscle mass is often naturally replaced by fat cells, and one pound of fat is roughly 18% larger than one pound of muscle. Weight training is the best way to maintain your muscle mass as you age and prevent fat gain.
Improve Musculoskeletal Health
Lifting weights regularly does not just build your muscles, but it also strengthens bones and connective tissues. This can help to reinforce the joints, prevent injury and improve your overall musculoskeletal health. The risk of developing conditions such as arthritis and osteoporosis are reduced significantly when you regularly weight train. In women, the chances of developing these conditions increase with age, and weight training can help to keep this in check.
Reduce Risk Of Chronic Conditions
There is some research to suggest weight training may improve the way your body can process sugar, which can help reduce the risk of developing diabetes. Many women develop type-2 diabetes as they get older, and regular weight training can combat this.
Diabetes isn’t the only chronic condition that can be helped by weight training. Anxiety and depression can also be improved through these workouts, as they will increase endorphins, dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin in the body. Not only that, but women who lift weights regularly often feel more confident and less anxious as a result of their workouts.
Strengthen Your Mind
Regular exercise such as weight training has been reported to protect brain function in older women. Lifting weights is mentally stimulating as well as being great for the body. It can help to improve focus and decrease the risk of memory loss because it keeps the brain switched on and active. Not only that, but studies have shown that weight training can help reduce the chances of developing dementia as you age.
So, with this in mind, there’s never been a better reason to grab those dumbells and find a weight training programme that works for you.