SIX REASONS WHY WOMEN SHOULD USE WEIGHTS
Increase Your Metabolism to Lose Body Fat
If you are a woman over 30, you should absolutely be incorporating weightlifting into your exercise program. Every 10 years, from the age of 30, your muscle mass deteriorates by 3-8% and because it is metabolically active (it’s the organ that burns the energy!), the less of it you have, the less calories your body will burn when resting. Which is where the term ‘middle-aged spread’ makes sense. When we reach middle age, we are generally less active and from that our muscle mass is reduced. This lowers our basal metabolic rate and this encourages extra fat stores to appear, more often than not, around the middle. Lifting weights will increase the lean muscle mass and therefore increase your body’s capacity to burn fat even at rest. So yes, lifting weights can absolutely make you lose body fat! It can even be more effective than just doing cardio. And it’s better for your joints.
Reduced Back and Joint Pain
Running and cycling are great forms of exercise, but they don’t build muscle or increase strength. They just put pressure on your joints. If you are someone that sits in an office chair all day, it’s very likely your joints, back and glutes will be weaker than normal. Your hip flexors and chest muscles will be tighter which is when those complaints of ‘back pain’ start to appear. Your body is being pulled forward, but it wants to be upright, so your back muscles have to work harder to pull your body into the right position. Sitting down all day, then going for a run if you have a tight anterior chain and weak posterior can only cause aggravation to your injury as your quads will do most of the running/cycling work rather than your glutes and hamstrings. Have you ever looked a Mo Farrah when he runs? His heels almost touch his bottom because his glutes and hamstrings are doing the work. Incorporating weights to strengthen your back as well as mobility work to open up your chest and hip flexors are essential if you are someone that sits down most of the day.
Look More Toned and Athletic
Lifting weights as a ‘general population’ woman WILL NOT make you bulky. Yes, if you work out 2-3 times a day, 6 days a week, consume between 3000-4000 calories, it is possible you could end up looking very muscly. But that requires pure grit and determination and would be a full-time job! As we get older, our skin gets thinner and looser. Doing weights will help fill out that sagging skin, creating a more ‘toned’ look. Cardio alone can give you a pancake bum and those famous bingo wings! And who wants that?! Why not start doing some weight training to get a nice round booty and toned arms! And don’t be scared to go ‘heavy’. I can deadlift 100kg, squat 70kg, push press 50kg and I am definitely not bulky!
Reduce Stress and Anxiety
Lifting weights can reduce cortisol. Too much cortisol in our body can make us feel stressed, anxious and even depressed. Having a different focus to your training in lifting weights means that you have to think about nothing else but the movement of the exercise and that in itself can take you away from the stresses of everyday life. When you shift your focus to weights, all that you think about is the technique of the movement and when you get good at that, you can then start chasing those numbers. Why not have a goal of being able to squat or deadlift your bodyweight?! It’s a mood booster!
Increase Bone Strength and Grip Strength
When you put your body through the stress of weight training, over time, your bones grow stronger and increase in density in order to endure the extra load you are lifting. Studies have shown that weight training is effective at increasing bone density, even more so than just doing cardio based exercise, especially for increasing the strength of the spine. Osteoporosis is a common bone disease that effects one in two women and one in 4 men over the age of 50. Have you had an elderly relative fall and break a bone? That is osteoporosis. Doing weights throughout your life will reduce your risk of osteoporosis. Sitting at a desk all day using a computer or doing lots of driving means that zero grip strength is used. Grip strength is vital to weightlifting, as you need it to be able to hang off a bar, perform a heavy deadlift or swing a kettlebell.
Increase Confidence and Awesomeness
Lifting weights can be empowering as a woman. Being able to deadlift and squat more than your bodyweight as a woman is an AWESOME feeling. Telling a guy that you don’t need help with that heavy piece of equipment you are carrying is such a great feeling. And being able to lift more than that guy in the gym is an even better feeling! GIRL POWER all the way! I get such a rush of adrenaline when I hit a PB in my weight training. And the good thing about weights is that you are ALWAYS able to chase a PB, as the weight can always get heavier (if you want them to!)