By Carl “Redbeard” Simpson
I was watching my wife work out recently, taking note of how fantastic her arms looked as she lifted a dumbbell over her head. This reminded me of a conversation that I seem to have on a weekly basis, and it goes like this…
A female looking to “slim down” or “tone up” tells me about her program of three days of cardio and two days of yoga. When I ask about resistance training or weightlifting, she tells me she doesn’t want to look “bulky” or even “mannish.” It hurts my heart. With that on my mind, let’s look at some reasons for women to throw some iron around.
1. You will blast more body fat.
Resistance training will help you build more lean muscle mass. This is important for a number of reasons. One is that increasing lean muscle mass burns more calories on a daily basis. We all know increasing calorie burn can only help us lose some of the body fat we carry around. Another factor to consider is that a cardio-only regimen most likely will result in a loss of lean muscle along with body fat. We want to keep all that muscle to ourselves. It is interesting to note that, compared to a cardio-only approach, recent studies have shown a particular increase of intra-abdominal fat loss through the addition of weight training.
Other studies have shown that lifting heavier (75 to 85 percent of your 10-rep max load) burns nearly twice the calories in the hours post-workout than a lighter weight session. It is pretty clear that building your muscles will help burn some body fat, especially when combined with a moderate cardio regimen and a healthy diet.
2. You will improve your overall health.
Women receive multiple proven health benefits with increased resistance training. Studies show many improvements in heart health and function, including stroke volume and lowered resting heart rate. Also, an increase in overall bone density, which can help fight density loss as you age. This will help deter the onset of osteoporosis, which is particularly important if you are genetically prone to the disorder.
One study even reports showing a nearly 10 percent increase in spinal bone mass in women over 50 (as related to the addition of strength training). That’s no small number. Want to sleep better? There are studies showing improvements in quality of sleep in women the night following a strength or high-intensity session. Want better brain function? It appears that increased resistance training shows improved memory and cognitive function during the same training period. So, as your muscles grow, you may be getting smarter. Apparently, lifting weights is not just for the “dumb meathead.”
3. You get stronger.
Obviously, lifting weights makes you stronger. But think about how that can help you in your everyday life. Maybe it can help you at work. It can always help to be stronger around the house. Are you playing sports on the weekend? Stronger will always be better. Got kids to carry around? Maybe a truck full of stuff to carry into the house? Realistically, everyday life is much better with some horsepower.
Another great thing about being stronger is that it aids in injury prevention. Strengthening the muscles surrounding your joints helps protect them and reduces the risk of joint failure. That means not only can you work and play in life better and more effectively, but you reduce the chance of blowing out your back on the dance floor. These are all wins in my book.
There are so many more reasons to adopt a resistance training program. The health benefits—mental and physical—are worth it alone. Your whole body improves with your increased muscle mass. If that alone isn’t enough, then look to your looks. Increasing your weight training reduces your body fat percentage when accompanied with a proper diet and a touch of aerobic training. Lifting will make you appear leaner while also helping out your curves.
A butt that does squats and lunges fills up those jeans in the right way. All of these are great, but so is the confidence that comes with being stronger. When I watched my wife put down the kettlebell after her session, I watched a little smile across her face. I know that smile. It is a smile that comes with knowing you killed it that session and the satisfaction that comes with the work put in.
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Carl “Redbeard” Simpson is a fitness junkie, certified personal trainer and nutritionist, and dedicated martial arts practitioner. He is committed to helping people be the best version of themselves. “Move better – be better – Redbeard Fitness!” Follow him on Instagram @redbeard_strong.