What is strength training? Strength training - also known as resistance training or weight lifting is a form of exercises designed to build physical strength by harnessing an opposing force that the muscles must work against. This resistance can come from your body weight, free weights, bands, tubings, or exercise machines.
When it comes to exercising, strength training is often overlooked by most women. This could be due to a myth that strength training will cause you to ‘bulk up’ and look manly. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
Women’s bodies produce a hormone called estrogen in a much higher concentration than a man’s body, which will not allow them to pack on pounds of bulging, hulk-like muscle. Instead, strength training can help women burn more calories, increase muscle tone and slim down.
There is actually a pretty long list of benefits that come from strength training. Below, we will discuss 14 of the most important ones.
1. You'll lose 20 to 40 % more fat... here's why: A study published by the University of Rochester Medical Center showed that lifting weights can boost your metabolism longer after you stop exercising than cardio does. Because your body works hard to help your muscles recover after an intense weight training session, your metabolism is stoked for up to an hour after you stop lifting.
2. Burn more calories per day: Even though a pound of muscle and a pound of fat weigh the same, they each have different energy requirements. A Tufts University study has shown that a pound of muscle burns more calories than a pound of fat when the body is at rest. Whereas a pound of fat only burns 2 to 3 calories per day, a pound of lean muscle burns 7 to 10. This may not seem like a lot, but every little bit helps, right?
3. You'll have more energy to chase after your kids: Kids have more energy than the Energizer bunny- they keep going and going and going. With today’s hectic lifestyles, your energy is more than likely to be going, going, GONE. Strength training increases circulation and aids in blood oxygen production, which can give you that boost of energy you need to keep up with your little ones.
4. Look better in a bikini: There are many brands of bathing suits on the market that claim to enhance your figure by lifting your bottom, cinching your waist and boosting your bosom. However, some of these look like they came straight out of the 20’s, covering everything but your ankles. To look sexy at the beach, a bikini is the way to go. The sad truth is, not everyone has a ‘bikini bottom’. By performing strength training exercises such as weighted squats and lunges, you can tone up your ‘assets’ and rock that bikini!
5. Your clothes will fit better: When an unfit body is covered by lumps and bumps of excess fat, your clothes will bulge and have lumps also. Strength training will tone your muscles and burn excess fat to provide you with a sleek, trim figure that you can accent, not try to hide, with clothing.
6. You will build stronger bones: A study published by the National Institute of Arthritis shows that strength training builds stronger bones. When muscles are engaged and putting pressure on bones, it stimulates them to grow and strengthen the existing tissue.
7. Your heart will be stronger and healthier: A study published by the US National Library of Medicine shows by incorporating strength training into your exercise routine, you can strengthen your heart and cut your risk of developing heart disease.
8. You'll derail diabetes: According to the American Diabetes Association, strength training helps to improve your insulin sensitivity, therefore lowering high glucose levels. You’re sweet enough. You can go without all of the excess sugar in your system.
9. You'll cut your cancer risk: A group of researchers from Finland published a study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine that shows individuals who perform at least 30 minutes of high intensity physical exercise (including weight training), reduce their risk of cancer caused death in half.
10. You'll handle stress better: Any type of physical activity releases endorphins, which helps the body deal with stress or injury. Strength training slightly tears muscles, which causes the brain to release these endorphins to help repair them. This results in an elevated mood and a slight feeling of euphoria.
11. You’ll get in better shape faster: Weight training builds muscle, which burns more calories per pound than fat. This means you can burn excess calories, even when lying on the couch. How awesome is that?
12. Lifting weights improves depression: As we discussed previously, strength training releases endorphins. A study conducted by researchers at Duke University proved these endorphins help alleviate depression by improving your overall mood.
13. You'll improve your productivity: When you are out of shape, your energy reserves are often running on empty. Strength training revs your metabolism, improves circulation and gives you an energy boost. This helps you power through those mid-afternoon slumps at work without the use of coffee or sugary snacks, allowing you to perform your duties more efficiently.
14. Your body will be fit and toned: You can perform all of the cardio exercises you want, but unless you strength train, you can still have a drooping derriere, flabby abs and the dreaded ‘bat wings’. Lifting weights helps to tone all of these problem areas and give them definition.
Sources: University of Rochester Medical Center, Tufts University, National Institute of Arthritis, US National Library of Medicine, Circulation, American Diabetes Association, British Journal of Sports Medicine, Duke University