Here’s Why Women Should Lift Weights

“I want to tone but I don’t want to bulk up”, “I don’t want to look like a man”, “I don’t want to lift heavy” are some of the things that I hear and have been hearing for over 20 years when it comes to any type of strength training for women.

There are many benefits to strength training, weight training, resistance training, sculpting, etc. Strength training boosts your metabolism, improves bone density, posture, protects the joints, elevates mood, increases endorphins, creates more independence and builds a stronger body.

When we break it down, weight training helps burn fat even when the body is at rest because by adding muscle, your resting metabolic rate (the number of calories you burn daily) increases which is a good thing which means even without trying too hard you will start to burn calories more efficiently. The more muscle added the greater number of calories burned while the body is at rest.

As we get older, the onset of osteoporosis becomes a concern. One way to address that is to strength train. Postmenopausal women are prone to osteoporosis because of the drop in the levels of estrogen. Resistance training can offset bone loss and can increase bone density in women who lift regularly. It also strengthens the connective tissue which increases joint stability.

Performing exercises with light weights and high repetitions will help build strength, muscle endurance, and tone to some degree but is not the most effective way to see results. Increased lean body mass leads to decreased levels of body fat.

Your clothing size may drop even though you may not lose weight but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Muscle weighs more than fat. Because women have lower amounts of testosterone than men, we are not going to bulk up or look like them unless we are taking steroids. This is a major misconception that I often hear.

Increasing or improving posture is another benefit of weight training. For example, if a person has a rounded back or weak shoulders, that can be improved through resistance work. Proper posture is everything and can lead to injury prevention.

Women have wider hips than men which creates a larger angle or “Q-angle” (the angle at which the femur meets the tibia). This increases the risk of ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) injuries for women. Strengthening the hips with squats and lunges, for example, helps decrease this risk.

Strength training helps with the release of the feel-good or happy hormones norepinephrine, dopamine and serotonin during exercise. It also leads to greater energy and better sleep patterns.

When women become stronger it