Look around many gyms and you’ll see a great divide between men and women. Inevitably, you’ll see the men pumping iron and the women will be either doing cardio or heading into a group aerobics class.
It’s hard to say why so many women avoid lifting weights. Maybe they find the weights area intimidating or perhaps are under the false impression that weights will make them bulk up and look masculine. Whatever the reason many women avoid lifting weights, the truth is they are missing out on an incredibly useful tool for developing the body of their (and every man’s!) dreams.
Five reasons why women should lift weights…
1. Weight training targets specific muscles
Cardio is fine for burning calories but when it comes to working specific areas of your body or targeting “trouble zones” it misses the mark by a mile. Want more shapely arms or a firmer stomach? Spinning and Zumba won’t get the job done. If you want to work on a particular part of your body, you need to work it with weights for best results. Thankfully, there are literally dozens of exercises for you to choose from per body part so weights workouts need never be boring or repetitive.
2. Weight training increases bone mass
Men naturally have stronger, denser bones than women and while men do lose bone mass with age, they lose it more slowly than women tend to do. This means that women are more prone to bone loss which, if left untreated, can become osteoporosis; a medical condition characterised by weak, porous and brittle bones. Regular weight training can significantly increase bone mass and also slow bone loss – especially in the most common sites for osteoporosis namely the spine, hips and wrists. Strengthening these bones will reduce their chances of being fractured in a fall.
3. Weight training builds useable strength
Everyone thinks they are strong enough until they aren’t and it’s only when your strength lets you down that you wish you had more of it. Carrying groceries, lifting your child off the floor and doing chores around the house all require strength but so too does getting out of a chair, climbing a flight of stairs or simply walking. Advanced age is usually accompanied by loss of strength so the more strength you have in the first place the better. While cardio is important for the health of your heart and lungs, weight training can help preserve your ability to live a productive and independent life and as men are naturally stronger and more muscular than women, weight training is especially important for females.
4. Weight training increases fat burning
While cardio burns calories while you are doing it, muscle built through weight training burns calories 24/7! It is estimated that a pound of muscle burns around six calories per day whereas a pound of fat only uses two. Therefore, and even if your bodyweight remains the same, you can increase your daily metabolic rate significantly by losing fat and gaining muscle. Cardio does little for muscle gain and can, in extreme cases, cause muscle loss. Weight training also increases insulin sensitivity which is important for fat burning as it promotes the uptake of nutrients into your muscle cells and away from your fat cells.
That doesn’t mean women (or men for that matter) should stop doing cardio completely but they should make sure it is balanced by a solid program of weight training. 5. Women make better weight trainers!
Most guys think they know of to lift weights. They load up the bar, pick it up aggressively and then swing, sway, jerk and grind that bar up and down like their life depends on it. The only thing that matters is how much weight is on the bar; technique be damned!
Women, however, tend not to be so ego-driven and worry less about how much they are lifting but how the exercise feels. Because of this, they not only get better results from their training, they suffer fewer injuries too.
Many men are all but un-coachable and when told that their technique needs work, their response is usually “that’s how I’ve always done it and that’s how I’ll always do it”. In contrast, women want to learn how to do things better, get better results and are much more open to instruction.
In many cases, a newbie female exerciser soon surpasses their male counterpart in terms of technique and performance simply because they are willing to learn. Minds, like parachutes, work so much better when they are open and many men’s minds are so tightly closed the very idea of doing something different will send them into a flat spin!
If more women embraced weight training, the world would be a happier, stronger, leaner place! Cardio definitely has a role to play but if you want to be lean, fit and shapely, it’s time to embrace the iron.
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