While there's nothing wrong with a bit of competitive body building (or perspex heels in the right setting), a slightly different approach to weight lifting can be the perfect way of achieving a stronger and more toned body, amongst a host of other benefits.
1. Strong Muscles Aren't Big Muscles
Many women have an aversion to weight lifting for fear of becoming 'bulky', or gaining muscle mass in a way that no longer looks feminine. Contrary to popular belief, lifting heavy weights will help you build stronger and denser muscles which, combined with the right diet, help you to look leaner, burn fat and create curves. Women who have the more full, defined muscles you may see in a body building environment have usually been training for years alongside a very specific diet and supplement intake, so while this is something you can work on achieving, lifting weights in a more moderate way is a great way to get some light definition and help burn fat.
2. Kick The Menopause's Butt With Weight Lifting
As women reach the menopause, hormonal changes can cause a greater risk of developing osteoporosis, whereby the bones become more fragile and brittle. While it may sound counter-intuitive, weight lifting has actually been shown to help combat the condition in post-menopausal women, helping to preserve bone density and improve muscle mass, strength and balance.
3. Burn More Calories
While cardiovascular exercise burns more calories than strength training over the course of the period of exertion, studies show that in the long run, strength training achieves a greater calorie burn in the following 24-hour period. In other words, weight lifting is the gift that keeps on giving! Muscles, unlike fat, are metabolically active, meaning that lean muscle burns calories even when you are at rest, so, in fact, the more lean muscle you have, the more you are continually burning on a daily basis. Research also shows that, compared to cardio, weight lifting is more effective at targeting intra-abdominal fat, which has been associated with diabetes and cancer.
4. Sleep Better
Studies suggest that morning resistance training improves the quality of sleep and particularly helps to lengthen the time of sleep the night after training. Exercise, in general, is proven to help combat stress, so try a lifting session before a big deadline or interview to get both the stress relief and the extra shut-eye you’ll need.
5. Stay Healthy And Injury-Free
As well as the many existing health benefits that exercise boosts, particularly with regards to a healthy heart, strength training has also been shown to help maintain a healthy body that is less prone to injury. As you build stronger muscles, you also inadvertently strengthen the connective tissues and joints between those muscles, thus reducing the risk of tears or sprains.
6. Improved Balance & Posture
Often when we work out, we focus on defining the larger muscle groups that give us visible results, such as sculpted biceps or defined abdominal muscles. A little-considered benefit of weight lifting is that you also work out and develop the small stabilizer muscles that keep your upright and take care of posture and balance, for example helping you to stabilize yourself when you slip or trip. While developing these more discreet muscles might not have the same allure as perfecting your glutes, you will most likely feel taller and leaner as a result of your improved posture.
Convinced yet? Try following the advice below to ease you into a regular weight lifting routine:
Experts recommended aiming for a total body workout at least 3 times a week, incorporating exercises that target several different muscle groups at the same time, for example, squats. Try to perform 3 sets of 10-12 reps for each exercise, with a weight heavy enough that it leads you to muscle failure by the end of the last set, i.e. the point at which your muscle is too fatigued to complete another rep. Happy lifting!
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