There are absolutely hundreds of studies and scientific research supporting the benefits of weight training for women, but a lot of women still tend to shy away from these benefits and opt instead with cardio workouts to improve their body composition.
Mostly this is due to the fact that overtime, we have been brain-washed into thinking that women will get too muscular and get a bulky look or in fact start looking like a man. This chain of thought is so far from the truth. Women who weight train according to their specific goals will achieve the body of their dreams faster by improving lean muscle tone and increasing strength. It is also one of the most effective ways to lose body fat quickly.
Even though cardio is still regarded by some people to be the best way to lose fat, it’s not entirely true, with numerous research studies actually showing weight training can be as effective, if not more so, than just cardio for pure fat loss.
All workouts ever created have one thing in common…Progressive overload. This is the gradual increase in weight, volume, intensity, frequency or time training in order to achieve your specific goal. These (sometimes minuscule) incremental improvements you make every time you step into the gym are all designed to progressively adapt and improve you.
In this post I will give you some of the unique benefits of weight training for women, (backed by scientific research of course) and why it should become a key component for you to improve your health & physique.
1. Weight Training Improves Muscle Mass
We all know the progressive weight training can help increase muscle size and quality. I have already mentioned that because weight training can increase muscle size, women actually avoid training with weight just in case they become muscular and bulky.
Let’s put that myth to bed once and for all. Here is why extra muscle mass isn’t a bad thing.
Training with weights provides not only an immense improvement in both the size and definition of the muscle, but it also increases your strength to carry out everyday tasks with ease, which is beneficial regardless of being male or female.
Increasing muscular size and strength is almost essential due to the fact that as we get older, strength becomes the major determining factor in the quality of life and this affects numerous facets of daily living such as standing, reaching, bending and even walking.
While many women fear that weight training will result in them getting bulky, the chances of this occurring are very unlikely.
The hormonal variations between men and women result in a significant difference in the ability to increase muscle mass, giving males an advantage to add bulk. One of the reasons that men can increase muscle mass potentially faster is due to testosterone, a key anabolic hormone, which is 7–10 x higher in men.
Additionally, from a simple size perspective, men start from a different standpoint altogether; for example 5lb will look quite different on a man compared to how it looks on a woman, especially if they are training different muscle groups.
If you do gain muscle, it would take 3–5 years to see noticeable amounts of mass, even if you are lucky, so you have plenty of time to pause when you attain a level you are happy with.
2. Weight Training Burns Body Fat
Since weight training can help improve muscle mass, it can also help give the impression of a more defined and athletic physique. By slightly increasing the relative size of the muscle, it’s possible to give the impression of having a more well-defined and toned physique, especially as you drop fat.
Additionally, this can often occur without having to go on a restrictive diet to lose body fat.
You are also more likely to lose body fat over the long term using resistance training or a combination of resistance training and cardio, than traditional cardiovascular based exercise alone.
The first reason for this phenomenon is because weight lifting often requires many different muscle groups to be working simultaneously, rather than just one particular muscle.
This is especially true when using compound movements such as squats, since these movements require intense coordination of many different muscle groups in order to move you safely and effectively. In doing so, this requires a tremendous amount of energy usage or calorie expenditure.
Muscle mass is also metabolic, and requires more energy than fat does in order to contract and function. When you have more muscle mass, you increase the amount of energy that the body needs to produce and burn, even when you are resting. This is a concept called Resting Energy Expenditure.
The result of having extra muscle mass (as opposed to body fat) is that it will require more energy to maintain, which means you burn more calories on a daily basis, helping you get or stay leaner. It’s also the key for long-term weight maintenance — if you burn 200 calories more per day, this equates to 73,000 calories per year or over 20lb of fat!
3. Weight Lifting Can Help You Feel Happier
Numerous studies have shown that exercise is one of the best and most effective anti-depressants. Research shows that by training at a higher intensity, such as intense weight training, can significantly help to alleviate symptoms of depression.
One study even indicated that reductions in symptoms of depression are directly correlated with levels of strength. Meaning, the stronger you are, the less likely you’ll feel depressed.
These effects can be explained by endorphins. Intense exercise actually up-regulates receptors in the body that endorphins attach to. So, while during exercise you may feel discomfort, in doing so you are actually enabling endorphins to become more effective afterwards and some studies report even greater feelings of happiness after weight training.
Long term, weight training is going to help you improve your physique to a greater extent than just cardio and will also likely help with long-term happiness and confidence.
4. Weight Training Can Help Combat Osteoporosis
A major concern for women as they age, is the risk of osteoporosis. Women are twice as likely as men to be diagnosed with this condition. The reason that weight training can help with osteoporosis is because loading bone structures with weight is actually the number one way to build up and strengthen bones. It works in exactly the same way as the mechanism behind muscle growth: the extra stimulus causes the body to adapt and grow.
Here’s an overview of how it works. Firstly, when a bone is under stress from weight, such as during resistance training, and if the load is heavy enough, the bone will actually begin to bend, ever so slightly (you can’t feel this). If there is sufficient stress placed on the bone during heavy weight training it stimulates the migration of something called osteoblasts.
These osteoblasts are cells which migrate to stressed bone areas and actually help to formulate new structural support. In doing so, the bone’s density increases which can help support it in the workouts to come and in the long term, preventing future issues such as osteoporosis.
5. Benefits Of Weight Training For Women
Despite many years of the media and general myths saying women should lifter lighter, none of the research even slightly suggests or supports this.
Saying that women should do so is actually counterproductive, limiting their ability to progress towards their goals, and to improve bone health or lose fat. There’s absolutely no benefit from lifting light for any reason as the body only adapts through progressive overload.
Improvements in strength, bone health, reductions in depression symptoms and improved body composition are just some of the awesome and quick benefits you will see after you commence a well-designed and advanced weight lifting routine.
As always, if you did like reading this article, please like and pass it to someone who may benefit.