One of the most common misconceptions in health, fitness and exercise is that weight training, also called strength training or resistance training, is not beneficial for fat loss/weight loss and can leave a woman looking overly muscular and “manly”. In fact, during my 14 year -career as a NYC based personal trainer, if I had a dollar for every time i heard this myth I’d be able to retire a wealthy man indeed!
Why Should Women Weight Train?
There are numerous reasons why women should embrace rather fear weight training and in this blog I want to shed some light on a few common benefits to pumping iron and explain why women should not be afraid of getting stronger.
Increased Bone Density Means Reduced Risk Of Osteoporosis
One of the least obvious but most important benefits of weight training for women is increased bone mass. We normally don’t think much about our bones but healthy bones can make the difference between living a happy, productive life and living in fear of taking an unexpected tumble and suffering a debilitating fracture. Bone mass naturally decreases with age but severe bone loss can develop into a medical condition called osteoporosis-literally porous bones. Osteoporotic bone is very fragile and prone to fracture; the most common fracture sites being the hip, wrist and spine. Thankfully, osteoporosis is not inevitable and a well designed program of weight training can help slow and even reverse bone loss, especially when combined with a protein, calcium and vitamin D rich diet.
Weight Training – More Effective Than cardio For Weight Loss?
Weight training can also help with your weight loss quest and can be more effective than endless hours of cardio. Lifting weights builds muscle and muscle is metabolically active. In simple terms, this means that when you increase your muscle mass even slightly, your caloric expenditure increases as this extra tissue needs energy. The result is that your weight loss will be easier, faster and more significant than if you perform lots of cardio. Imagine putting a bigger engine into your car. Adding a little bit of muscle will do the same thing for your daily calorie expenditure as putting a bigger engine in your car will do your gas usage. And, just like a bigger car engine will burn more gas even when it’s idling at the traffic lights, you increased muscle tissue will speed up weight loss even while you sleep. How much extra energy are we talking here? It is estimated that 2 pounds of muscle will increase your daily energy expenditure by 88 calories. Add 10 pounds of muscle to your body and your looking at burning an extra 400+ calories a day without changing your diet or doing any extra exercise! While adding 10 pounds of muscle might sound like exactly the reason you DON’T want to lift weights, remember that if you lose fat as you gain muscle, you’ll actually end up weighing exactly the same but looking so much better.
Weight Training and Bodybuilding – Similar But Different
Finally, to put your mind to rest regarding weight training making your look muscular and masculine; gaining muscle is VERY hard work. Bodybuilders spend hours in the gym training specifically for muscle growth. They follow a special diet and use supplements in their quest to make their muscles bigger. With all this attention to detail, men (who make up the majority of bodybuilders) also have considerably higher levels of testosterone than women.
Women – Don’t Fear Iron
The bottom line is that women are NOT genetically predisposed to building big and unsightly muscles. They can, however, safely use weights to help them lose fat, increase bone mass and target typical female problem areas such as the hips and thighs; especially if they follow a well designed workout plan from an experienced and certified personal trainer.
By Mark Darco
Mark Darco is a professional personal trainer who has completed multiple certifications. He works in the Brooklyn, NYC area.