Health and fitness – why it’s important for women to lift weights

As a personal trainer, I often find that women don’t lift weights because they’re concerned it will make them look bulky. I’m here to put that myth to bed as this could not be further from the truth! What we think of as ‘bulk’ or gaining muscle mass, comes from a combination of testosterone, consuming more calories and almost daily weight training.

Here are six reasons to not only dispel the myth but encourage you to get lifting too.

1. You Will Burn More Calories

Yes, cardio burns more calories than strength training during a 30-minute session. However, lifting weights burns more calories overall. It all goes back to building muscle. It takes more calories for your body to maintain muscle cells than it does to maintain fat cells. So, by lifting weights and adding more lean muscle, you’ll boost your metabolism, thereby making your body more efficient at burning fat.

2. You Will Maintain Muscle

From the age of 30, women start to lose muscle. Over a lifetime, this can equate to an average loss of 22% of their total muscle mass and unfortunately, this void often gets replaced with fat. Did you know that 1kg of fat takes up 18% more space than 1kg of muscle, so the number may go down on the scales, but the dress size may go up.

As we get older it becomes even more important to keep up strength training on a regular basis. For best results, I recommend two to three full-body strength workouts per week with some kind of cardiovascular exercise on other days to keep your heart strong. Remember, the heart is an essential muscle too.

Health and fitness – why it’s important for women to lift weights

3. You Will Build Stronger Bones

Lifting weights is your best defence against osteoporosis. Osteoporosis Australia estimates that by 2022, there will be 2.07 million older people in NSW and the ACT with low bone mass – that’s a 26% increase from 2012 figures. This rise in low bone mass particularly impacts women but men account for 13% of these figures so it’s evident that we all need to keep up strength training. When you lift weights, you engage muscles that pull on the tendons which in turn pull on the bones. This added stress makes bones stronger.

4. Your Heart Will Be Healthier

It may seem counter-intuitive that weightlifting lowers blood pressure given that your blood pressure goes up during and immediately after your strength session, but research shows that weights are a powerful way to protect your heart in the long run.

When muscles contract, blood is pushed back up to the heart. The heart then recirculates this oxygenated blood back to the muscles which gives the circulatory system a better workout because the oxygen expenditure is more intense. Additionally, maintaining lean muscle mass enables you to do more work overall, further enhancing this effect.

5. You Will Strengthen Your Brain

Muscles strengthen both your body and your brain. Think of your brain as the central processing unit; nerve fibres from the brain run down the spinal cord and branch out in networks to every skeletal muscle that moves, like wires connected to light bulbs and outlets in your home. By learning new movement patterns and replicating existing patterns, you’ll only strengthen these connections.

Health and fitness – why it’s important for women to lift weights

6. You Will Be Happier and Less Stressed

Weight training also has the power to release pleasure through endorphins, those feel-good chemicals in your brain. A 2018 study (by JAMA Psychiatry) analysed over 30 experiments relating to weight training and depression. The results showed that strength training led to improvements across the board in depressive symptoms such as low mood, a loss of interest in activities and feelings of worthlessness.

So, what are you waiting for ladies (and fellas)? Put your health first and implement strength training into your fitness routine.

For guidance call me on 0431 141 701, pop into the gym at Moonee Market or find me on Facebook @jenloufit