By Natalie V.
The typical woman’s first concern when they start to weight-lift is “I am afraid I will look bulky.” We know, we know. Most women do not want bulging biceps or thunderous thighs.
Truthfully, women do not have the testosterone to get bulky and big like men. Even for men, it can be difficult to attain sheer muscle growth like you see in body building competitions. In any case, despite the myth that women will get “big” if they lift, it doesn’t mean you should skip the weight room. Rather, lifting weights has benefits that you cannot get from doing just cardio or aerobic exercise.
Research shows that just two strength training sessions a week can help you burn more fat, sculpt lean muscles, feel more energized, and improve your bone density in the long run.
Although cardio has a reputation for torching more calories than strength training does, lifting weights actually has the ability to burn more calories overall.
The fact is, the more you lift and strength train, the more muscle you build. Since it takes more energy—i.e., it burns more calories– for your body to maintain muscle cells than it does fat cells, by lifting weights to add more muscle mass, you will boost your metabolism, and turn your body into a more efficient, fat-burning machine.
As women, our bodies change during various stages of our lives. Research shows that between the ages of 40 and 70, women lose an average of 22 percent of their total muscle. What makes this fact worse is that this muscle void is filled with fat. One pound of fat takes up 18 percent more space than one pound of muscle, so even if the number on the scale goes down, your pants size might go up. Therefore, we want to be fighting this muscle loss and fat acquisition with muscle building.
Many people do not know that lifting weights can be your best line of defense against osteoporosis! Osteoporosis—a progressive disease that lowers the density of bones over time, making them weaker and more likely to fracture—is a disease that affects 10 million Americans, 80 percent of which are women. By lifting weights, you are engaging muscles that, then, pull on tendons, which in turn, pull on bones. This domino effect leads to stronger bones.
Strength training can also be a defense and a potential alleviator of Diabetes. Similarly, as with cardio, lifting weights can help improve the way your body processes sugar. Thus, lifting weights can help prevents diabetes. Even if you already have diabetes, research has shown that extended periods of strength training can improve blood sugar control as effectively as taking a diabetes drug. In fact, the combination of strength training and aerobic exercise may be even more beneficial than drugs.
Overall, weight training also has the power to induce pleasure and ease pain by releasing endorphins (the “feel good” chemicals) in your brain. Training with weights is something that everyone—including women—should be doing in their exercise routine.
Natalie grew up in Prospect, CT where she started playing sports at the young age of 4 and continued playing throughout her life, including paying softball and volleyball for both travel and high school teams. At Menlo College in California, she continued with her love of sports by playing softball at the university level. Her passion for athletics inspired her to pursue a career in sports performance and Exercise Science, completely changing her career path from her original Sports Broadcasting major. She realized she was no longer interested in reporting about athletics, but rather, she wanted to be hands-on, helping others. Natalie’s ultimate goal is to inspire others to develop a passion for health and fitness, and to assist them in reaching their goals as their best self. She has specifically developed a profound interest in agility training and assisting athletes become more explosive. Natalie is a W.I.T.-certified personal trainer. She is also a student at Central Connecticut State University, and is scheduled to graduate with a degree in Exercise Science, and a minor in Mass Media Communications. Furthermore, Natalie plans to continue her education to become a yoga instructor, so that she can also aid in the recovery of athletics.