Although we’re well past that point where all women in the gym avoid the weight room like the plague, the tenacious misconceptions commanding most societies still have too many of them holding on to aerobics and Pilates for dear life. Both of these are superbly healthy and have their place in the fitness universe, but most women steer clear of strength training as if it’s a male-dominated realm. Oh, wait…
Truth be told, we cannot blame the men for this situation. They have discovered the many benefits of lifting weights, so they opt for it more often, while ladies everywhere still feel unconvinced. Since the key lies in education, let’s go through some of the most valuable perks of strength training for both genders that will likely have you in the weight room the next time you visit your gym.
Those who struggle with a restrictive diet know it all too well – it can be daunting to find a routine that is most effective for fat loss. Even though we all know that no routine can help without a solid nutrition plan, no aerobic exercise can provide you with fat-loss results on par with resistance training. And while many will try to argue that strength is achieved with bodyweight exercises as well, sure, but only up to a point.
When you work your muscles resistance-free in the rep-range above 15 or 20, you merely exercise your muscle endurance, meaning that your body needs extra external resistance (aka weights) to progress. And stronger muscles burn more calories, and thus your body will burn fat more efficiently. Keep in mind that stronger for women doesn’t necessarily mean bigger – we simply don’t have the same testosterone levels to achieve the bulky appearance of men who lift.
Better Bones, Better Muscles, Better Posture
Working with weights doesn’t only improve your skeletal muscle strength, it also improves your bone density and reduces the risk of bone-related diseases that are often the result of old age, such as osteoporosis or arthritis.
A stronger core, which is achieved with the help of compound movements such as the squat and the deadlift with heavy weights also improves your posture. As little as six months of weight training can boost your bone’s mineral density by 13%, and if you have a calcium-rich diet, you’ll further enhance your chances of strong, healthy bones as you age.
Age Like Fine Wine
While we’re on the subject of aging, it’s a natural process to slowly lose muscle and gain more fat as time passes by. However, weight training reverses these effects, allowing you a stronger, more resilient body composition that will empower your independence even in your silver years.
Consistent workouts with gradually increasing resistance help your body balance your hormones, keeps inflammation at bay, and boosts your immune system, all of which contributes to protecting your skeletal muscle tissue and your bones alike. The anti-ageing effects are visible all the way to your genetic level – the genes responsible for aging reverse their expression to benefit your health.
Mental and Emotional Resilience
It’s a well-known fact that any type of exercise serves as a mood-booster by overflowing your body with the feel-good endorphins, and improving your confidence. The sheer pride you feel when you wear your favorite bodybuilding-wear impacts your motivation to push yourself harder in training and overcome any physical and psychological barriers you encounter.
But in the long-run, weight training is a powerful tool for nourishing your self-love. It helps you gain confidence in your physical and your mental capabilities, it nurtures a positive body image no matter if you’re thin, curvy, lean, or buff, and it’s a challenge that builds your emotional endurance. Studies show that weight training is a great way to fight depression – those who participated in intensive weight training cut their depression symptoms in half.
A Healthy Heart
Although anaerobic in nature, strength training doesn’t only give you strong skeletal muscles, but it also gives you a buff heart. Lowering your LDL cholesterol, helping you manage your blood pressure and your weight, strength is a surefire way to a healthy, strong cardiovascular system.
Research shows that those with a controlled high blood pressure gain better results with weight training than with medication, or any other lifestyle change. If you enjoy your jogs, no need to cut them out completely, but rest assured that your heart will be all the more grateful if you introduce a few weekly lifting sessions as well.
If you’re a believer in increasing your emotional and mental capacities with various strategies, then training your body for the same, if not greater benefits can only improve your quality of life. Your newly-gained strength can have a profound effect on how you perceive and appreciate yourself, how you handle life’s many obstacles, and how well you build and safeguard your self-esteem for years to come.
Samantha has a B.Sc. in nutrition and has spent two years working as a personal trainer. Since then, she has embarked on a mission to conquer the blogosphere. When not in the gym or on the track, you can find her on Ripped.me, or in a tea shop.
Now I am pumped to start pumping iron again!
How will you fit in some strength training?