What are your goals when you spend time in the gym? Are you trying to sculpt your body? Lose weight? Burn fat? Get stronger? All of these goals can benefit your appearance and your confidence. But how are you going about meeting these goals? Running on the treadmill and doing crunches may help, but they probably won’t give you the powerful and toned bod you are looking for. The key to the type of body you want (and lots of health benefits, too) is actually to take up an activity that has often been labeled a man’s world: Weight lifting. Contrary to popular opinion, lifting weights isn’t just for men, and it won’t turn your body into a bulky mass. Instead, weight lifting offers women like you the opportunity to improve your overall health and your physical strength while giving you the very best body you can have. Following are just a few of the benefits that women can enjoy when they lift weights.
Weight lifting builds strength.
Perhaps the most obvious reason that women should lift weights is because it builds strength. By lifting weights, you exercise and build up the muscles throughout your body. This exercise results in stronger muscles and in an ability to do physically demanding tasks. This strength gives women like you greater independence as they find themselves able to handle tasks that they once would have needed someone else to help them with.
Weight lifting burns fat.
Many women have a little pudge somewhere that they would like to get rid of. Whether it be around the middle, on the thighs, or around the hips, this body fat can lead to lower self-esteem and self-confidence. While diet and exercise can help to shed this excess body fat, lifting weights has been proven to burn body fat more quickly and efficiently than other means.
In fact, studies have proven the effectiveness of weight lifting at burning fat. In one study, lifting weights burned more fat in women than did cardiovascular exercise. Other studies showed that women who lifted weight two or three times a week managed to burn 3.5 pounds of body fat in just two months. In addition, weight lifting is the only method for burning fat that does not also burn off muscle. Instead, weight lifting actually builds your muscles while burning fat. The result is that you both increase your strength and shed the pudge that is interfering with your self esteem.
Weight lifting burns calories.
Body fat isn’t the only thing that weight lifting burns. It also helps to burn more calories, allowing you to lose weight faster. Weight lifting burns calories in three ways. First, the action of lifting weights uses up calories in and of itself. Second, weight lifting builds lean muscle. The more lean muscle you possess, the more calories you burn because the use of these muscles leads to more burned calories in all of your activities. It has been estimated that every pound of muscle burns anywhere from 30-50 more calories a day. Third, weight lifting increases your metabolism, the speed at which your body processes the food you eat. The faster your metabolism, the faster you burn calories. As a result, weight lifting allows you to burn calories not only while you are weight lifting but throughout your entire day as well. This increased ability to burn calories allows you to more quickly meet your weight loss goals and then stay at your ideal weight.
Weight lifting improves body shape.
When you diet and exercise, you are probably looking to do more than just lose weight. You also want to achieve the best possible body shape for you. However, dieting only reduces weight evenly throughout your body. It does not shape your body. However, weight training can actually improve the shape of your body. It does so in two ways.
First, lifting weight lifting strengthens the muscles throughout your body. As these muscles tighten, they pull the bones into better alignment. The result is better posture and an improved appearance overall. In addition, weight lifting improves body shape by maintaining your muscle definition even as it burns fat and helps you lose weight. This extra definition leaves you with more of the curves you want.
Weight lifting improves bone health.
For women, weight lifting is especially helpful because of its impact on bone health. Women are especially vulnerable to osteoporosis, in which the bones lose their density and become fragile. Weight lifting helps to prevent osteoporosis by improving bone density. One study revealed that women who had passed through menopause were able to build their bone mass in their spines by 9 percent after only one year of weight lifting. Other studies indicate that women can increase their spinal bone density by an even greater percentage: 13 percent with six months of weight lifting. Even younger women like you can improve bone density and lower your chances of osteoporosis by regularly engaging in resistance exercises like weight lifting.
Weight lifting strengthens joints.
In addition to improving your bone density so you can better avoid osteoporosis, weight lifting strengthens your joints. It does so by strengthening the tissues that connect your joints to your muscles and by strengthening the muscles themselves. The result is that these tissues and muscles help to hold your joints in place. Studies have supported claims that weight lifting strengthens joints. In addition, one study that was conducted over the course of 12 years revealed that low back pain could be reduced or eliminated entirely by strengthening the muscles in the lower back. These studies reveal that weight lifting can be a beneficial practice if you are suffering from joint or back pain.
Weight lifting improves mental health.
Weight lifting clearly improves your physical health on a number of levels. However, a healthy life includes mental strength and emotional health. Weight lifting contributes to this mental and emotional health in a number of ways. First, weight lifting has been proven to reduce stress by allowing the weight lifter to better manage their stress. In addition, weight lifting may contribute to better memory.
Improved stress management and memory are not the only benefits provided by weight lifting. When you enjoy greater strength and achieve the type of body you want, you also feel more confident in yourself and in your ability to handle whatever comes your way. Finally, weight lifting has been proven to have a positive impact on people who are experiencing depression.
Weight lifting improves energy levels.
As mentioned above, weight training speeds up your body’s metabolism. As a result, it also leads to an increase in energy levels. The increase in energy lasts for hours after the strength training session. As a result, weight lifting can help to lift sluggishness and fatigue and give you energy to get through your day. Combined with the mood improvement that weight lifting provides, this improved energy can lead to a happier, more productive day.
Weight lifting improves athletic performance.
If you are involved in other athletic pursuits (such as running), weight lifting can help to improve your performance in these fields. One of the reasons it does so is that it improves your overall flexibility. You can use weight lifting to achieve greater flexibility by engaging in full-range weight lifting (in which you move your body throughout its full range of motion during the weight lifting). Studies have shown that this type of weight lifting is just as effective as stretching as making you more flexible.
In addition, weight lifting improves athletic performance by strengthening your core. This strong core will make you better able to maintain your form during sports-related activities. Your improved strength will make it easier for you to complete the activities related to your sport. Your improved physical strength will also make you more resistant to injury. The result should be better overall performance in your sport, and fewer injuries that keep you from enjoying your sport.
Weight lifting improves heart health.
Finally, weight lifting can improve your heart health. Weight lifting lowers your cholesterol levels and has been recommended by the American Heart Association as one method for lowering your risk of suffering from heart disease. Weight lifting has also been shown to lower blood pressure by as much as 20 percent. In fact, the benefits of weight lifting as similar to those provided by aerobic exercise and cardiovascular training.
The next time you hit the gym, consider tackling those barbells you always left in the corner for the men to use. You may wonder whether you have the time to add more to your exercise regimen. It may take time to gradually work up to lifting the heavy weights. You may need a trainer. But, the benefits might amaze you. From improving your strength to improving your heart health, bone health, joint strength, mental health, energy levels, and more, weight lifting offers you a way to improve your appearance and your confidence. As a result, using weight lifting can be a valuable way for you to begin meeting your fitness goals and enjoying greater overall health for the long term.