Wellness

Weight Lifting for Women: Fact vs Fiction

woman lifting a dumbbell Weight Lifting for Women: Fact or Fiction

I have worked in the fitness industry for nearly 3 years now and have seen countless women shy away from weight training and run themselves into the ground w cardio.

Most women are fearful of becoming bulky, looking manly, or not losing the weight they so desperately want to come off. Fortunately for us, the hormones our body naturally produces keeps these things from happening!

So let’s get into it! Let’s separate Fact from Fiction when it comes to Weight Lifting for Women.

 

1. Fiction: Weightlifting Doesn’t Help With Weightloss

FACT: Weightlifting Increases Women’s Metabolic Rate

Your metabolism would give you a giant hug around the neck if you started to incorporate weightlifting into your weekly workouts. 

When you build muscle, you increase your metabolism. In fact, for every pound of muscle you build, you burn 30-50 more calories a day. 

Do the math, if you gain, let’s say, 5 beautiful pounds of muscle, you could burn up to 250 more calories every single day without having to work any harder at the gym.

That’s how many calories an average woman would burn if she jogged for 30 minutes! 

Here is what an interesting PubMed study “Resistance training is medicine: effects of strength training on health” has to say about weightlifting:

Ten weeks of resistance training may increase lean weight by 1.4 kg, increase resting metabolic rate by 7%, and reduce fat weight by 1.8 kg.

The more you lift, the more muscle you will make, the more calories you will burn.

2. Fiction: Weightlifting Will Make Me Bulky

FACT: Bulking up takes a lot of intentional work 

Unless you are in a strict weight training program, you will not “bulk up” by lifting weights.

Coming from someone who has been weight training for 3 years, lifting heavy for a year, I am not even close. I would actually like a little bit of bulk and I am still so far away. I have a very feminine and soft curvy body with hints of muscular toning. 

Yes you will become more defined, yes your muscles will take on a different shape, but becoming bulky like the pro weightlifter image we have in our head is not accurate.

Here is why: we are not built like men and because our muscle fibers are smaller and testosterone is 10% lower, women can tone without increasing the size of our muscles. 

Bulking up as a female is typically very challenging and women have to work incredibly hard nutritionally and lift diligently to get their bodies to look muscular and chiseled like a fitness model. 

3. Fiction: Weightlifting Will Be Hard On My Body

Fact: Weightlifting Will Increase Your Bone Density and Decrease Chances of Injury

Yes, lifting weight increased your muscle strength, but it also increases the strength of your bones, joints, and even spine.

This makes you less susceptible to injury, arthritis, and osteoporosis. And if you think you are too young to be thinking about bone density, unfortunately, you are wrong.

Women reach their peak bone density at age 30 and then naturally start declining. 

This Harvard Health Article, Strength training builds more than muscles, explains what happens to our bones as we lift

Activities that put stress on bones can nudge bone-forming cells into action. That stress comes from the tugging and pushing on bone that occur during strength training (as well as weight-bearing aerobic exercises like walking or running). The result is stronger, denser bones.

4. Fiction: Weightlifting Doesn’t Benefit Heart Health

FACT: Cardiovascular Disease Reduces Drastically With Weightlifting

Women can lower their risk of cardiovascular disease by 40-70% just by weight lifting.

One of the main reasons is due to how insulin sensitivity is improved with weightlifting. Weightlifting improves the way our bodies break down and distribute glucose and in return, inflammation in our bodies decreases! 

As a woman, your risk of diabetes even decreases by a whopping 40% by engaging in regular weightlifting.

5. Fiction: Weightlifting Is Stressful and Doesn’t Help Improve Mental Health

This was a big reason I did not lift for years. To me, running was not just “good for me” but it was a way I could check out.

I do understand the therapeutic side of running and the benefits of being outdoors, however, weightlifting has mental health benefits that might shock you as well! 

Weightlifting can significantly reduce depression symptoms. 

This Washington Post Article explains how strength training can have a substantial impact on mental health and even be used as a way to improve mental health.

The article they used was called “The Effects of Resistance Exercise Training on Anxiety”. Here is what the study concluded

RET (resistance exercise training) significantly improves anxiety symptoms among both healthy participants and participants with a physical or mental illness.

When you weightlift, you will not just reduce your anxiety, but you also will improve your sleep, and even increase your energy levels.

If you are like me, and really love the time you spend outside I would incorporate walking into your exercise routine. I love to go for a morning or evening walk on the days I lift heavy, and on days I cannot make it to the gym but need a boost, I run sprints. 

Running sprints can be an alternative way to get in your cardio and still build muscle.

Are you interested in weightlifting but don’t know where to start? Drop your questions below in the comments!

Sources:

https://wellnessmama.com/3241/strength-training/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22777332/

https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/strength-training-builds-more-than-muscles

https://blog.nasm.org/weight-lifting-for-women

https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/wellness/weightlifting-depression-anxiety-help/2020/09/01/d1036794-e882-11ea-bc79-834454439a44_story.html 

Hello, I’m Meg Thompson, a wife, mother, and nutrition counselor who is passionate about equipping families in their health journey through practical and simple ways. Healthy living is so important! So let's not making it harder then it has to be. Join me as I share helpful and convenient ways to improve yours and your children's diets!

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