When it comes to lifting weights, most women believe that lifting that 10lb. dumbbell a few times per day is enough to make a huge impact. Wrong. In order to get a sexy, toned physique, you must lift heavy. No, not too heavy, but heavy enough for your strength and fitness level. You do start small and slowly work your way up once your body adjusts to the weight you are lifting. Women fear getting big and looking manly. Women fear stretch marks from growing muscles. Women fear muscles. Period. But, what they do not realize is that it takes much more than heavy weights to get muscles like a man. There are countless reasons out there why women should start lifting heavy. Not only does it make your overall appearance have men saying "Hot damn", it will also improve your health in ways you've never imagined. Here are 7 reasons to start lifting heavy:
- Reduces chance for osteoporosis later in life. As women age, we tend to risk developing brittle, porous bones. Strength training has been shown to increase your bone density and slow bone loss over time-almost even better than a glass of milk! Researchers in Georgia found that osteoarthritis sufferers who performed leg exercises through a full range of motion three times a week reduced knee pain by up to 58 percent.
- Controls your weight. It is thought that adding a strength training regime to a cardio workout can help with weight management. Strength training help to build muscle, which is more metabolically active than fat tissue, meaning you may burn more calories even when at rest if you boost your muscle mass. Strength training should be used in combination with cardio for best results, but should not replace cardio training, which research suggests is more effective for weight loss and provides greater benefit for fitness levels.
- Burns more fat. Penn State University researchers put overweight people on a reduced-calorie diet, and divided them into three groups—one that didn't exercise, another that performed aerobic exercise 3 days a week, and a third that did both aerobic exercise and weight training 3 days a week. The results: Each of the groups lost nearly the same amount of weight—about 21 pounds. But the lifters shed about 6 more pounds of fat than did those who didn't pump iron. Why? Because their weight loss was almost pure fat, while the other two groups lost just 15 pounds of lard, along with several pounds of muscle. Do the math and you'll see that weights led to 40 percent greater fat loss.
- You will get stronger. This is an obvious benefit, but a reason why I love to lift. The feeling of becoming stronger is so empowering, as a woman. Chores or yardwork that used to wear me out is no big deal anymore. I tire less and less with daily tasks. Carrying groceries or my 17 lb. 4 month old around is no longer a feat!
- Fights depression. Exercise has been shown to be just as effective, if not more, than antidepressants! In one 10-week Harvard study, progressive resistance training "significantly reduced all depression measures" compared to controls. Also, its a great feeling to be able to lift something heavy and it improves your self esteem to know you are doing something good for your body.
- Improves cardiovascular system. An American Heart Association Survey published in the journal Circulation found that a panel of cardiovascular experts agreed: weight training could reduce blood pressure, improve cardiovascular function, and reduce diabetes risk.
- Improves sleep. Ever heard that exercise improves your sleep? It is true-especially when you lift heavy weights. Australian researchers observed that patients who performed three total-body weight workouts a week for 8 weeks experienced a 23 percent improvement in sleep quality. In fact, the study participants were able to fall asleep faster and slept longer than before they started lifting weights. Lifting weights is hard work!