More and more women step out of their comfort zone and lift weights these days, which is great news because the benefits of weight training greatly outweigh those of cardio. Cardio may burn calories, but that effect stops the minute you get off the treadmill – with weights you get to build more muscle and keep burning fat all day long.
Unfortunately, most ladies still avoid going heavy, believing the myth that heavy weightlifting would make them big and bulky, so they never pick up enough weight to get a great training effect. That’s really a shame, because new studies show that women may benefit from heavy training even more than men.
Any bodybuilder can tell you that gaining muscle isn’t exactly a walk in the park and that’s especially true for women. The women with massively muscular physiques at bodybuilding competitions didn’t get there by heavy lifting alone, as women in general don’t produce nowhere near as much testosterone as men do – they rely on hormone injections to get big and bulky.
In other words: you’re safe! Moreover, you should know that strength training can help you unlock some amazing health benefits that you shouldn’t miss out on just because someone told you that women should only lift two-pound, pink dumbbells.
Go Heavy for Less Fat and Powerful Muscles
Since women cannot get bigger muscles than men, they should lift heavier to improve their muscle strength and definition. When it comes to weight training, one of the main differences between the male and female body is that the first relies more on testosterone while the latter relies more on growth hormone to increase muscle and bone strength. Lifting heavy weights (3-4 reps per set) helps maximize growth hormone production in women, which is a good thing because this hormone is vital for metabolic function and muscle and bone development. And the more growth hormone stimulated, the bigger the benefits of the workout.
One recent study that investigated the effects of different kinds of weight training on growth hormone production in women found that growth hormone was most responsive to moderate (about 12 reps) and heavy (about 3 reps) lifting regimens. “Women need to have a heavy loading cycle in their resistance training routines,” said the lead researcher William J. Kraemer.
There’s no need to be afraid of heavy weights because that will only limit your gains. In order to melt the fat away and build lean and strong muscles you need to vary the training stimuli, and this is the best place to start. Keep in mind that cardio only burns calories and fat while you’re exercising, while weightlifting causes your body to consume more oxygen both during and after the training. This increases your metabolic rate and keeps it elevated long after your drop the last weight. Also, the more muscle you have, the more calories you will burn at rest and the faster you will achieve your goal body.
And that’s not even the end of the list of the benefits that women can get from lifting – many large, longitudinal studies have shown that strength training lowers blood pressure and levels of bad cholesterol, thereby reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases, helps increase bone density and prevent osteoporosis (which is more common in women), normalizes stress levels and even eliminates symptoms of depression. Last but not least, regularly engaging in strength training will improve the quality of your sleep and increase energy levels throughout the entire day.
Basically, the type of training you do and the diet choices you make can powerfully affect every area of your life, including your physical and mental health, self-confidence, work performance, romantic relationships and much more. But first you will need to step out of your box and put your fortitude to the test.
So do you want to get stronger, leaner, healthier and happier? Step off that treadmill, pick up some heavy iron and watch the magic happen!