If you are a woman, you have probably heard countless horror stories about weight training. Lifting weights will make you muscular like a man; the muscles will turn to fat when you discontinue; it will put pressure on your uterus and so on.
Talk to any sports medicine specialist or qualified fitness instructor and you will realise that none of these are true. Women stand to benefit from weight training just like men. In fact, lifting weights is the single most effective way to sizzle in a bikini and flaunt surfboard abs.
Here are nine compelling reasons for picking up the dumbbell today!
It burns fat
Cardio may be the key to weight loss, but weight training melts fat faster. Penn State researchers studied three groups of dieters – one did no exercise, the second did only aerobics and the third followed a lifting plus aerobics routine – and found that while all groups lost 9.5 kg on the scale, the lifters shed 2.5kg more of fat than others. This is because their loss was almost pure fat while the non-lifters lost both fat and muscle.
It cuts calories
Pumping iron helps you lose more calories than running marathons on the treadmill or doing other gruelling cardio workouts. Doing a set of eight moves – which takes just eight minutes – can burn 150 to 230 calories. To burn the same amount, you will have to run at a 10-mile-per-hour pace for the same duration.
It improves metabolism
After a strenuous session of weight training, your muscles need the energy to repair their fibres and your body continues to consume additional oxygen in the hours and even days that follow. This causes more caloric expenditure and an increased metabolic rate. Researchers found that when people did just three major muscle moves at the gym, their metabolisms were raised for 39 hours afterwards.
It boosts curves
With just dieting or endurance exercise, you lose both fat and muscle tissue, leading to losing of the curves you love. Weight training, on the other hand, helps create and maintain curves. As your muscles increase, your body begins to take a nice hourglass form.
It improves your shape
With age and pregnancies, your breasts are bound to head south. But the right weight training can help keep your chest perky by improving blood supply to the breasts and building up the underlying pectorals for a surgery-free lifting effect.
It inculcates diet discipline
A study by the University of Pittsburgh found that dieters who didn’t lift weights ate more than the prescribed 1,500 calories a day. The researchers say exercise helps remind us to stick to our diet.
It leads to stronger bones
Women lose bone density at a higher pace than men, especially post menopause, and are more prone to osteoporosis. A study found that 16 weeks of weight-bearing exercise increased hip bone density and elevated blood levels of osteocalcin – a bone growth marker – by 19 per cent.
It keeps your heart healthy
Cardiovascular disease, which was once considered to be a “male” problem, has become the number one killer of women globally, according to the World Health Organisation. The good news is that weight training can protect you against it. Michigan University researchers found that individuals who did three sessions of weight training a week for two months decreased their diastolic blood pressure (the lower number) by an average of eight points. This is sufficient to reduce the risk of a heart attack by 15 percent.
It makes you happier
Last but not the least, you will feel relaxed and happy. A study found that the fittest people have lower levels of stress hormones than the least fit. Moreover, researchers found that people who did three weight workouts a week for six months saw significant improvement on a scale measuring anger and overall mood.