While women dominate running groups, treadmills and yoga classes, you won’t find many women in the free weights section of the gym. By staying out of the weight room, women are missing out on some of the greatest benefits of strength or resistance training.
Here are some good reasons to spend less time on the treadmill and more time with dumbbells.
You won’t get bulky.
This myth keeps a lot of women out of the gym. Despite what anyone tells you, women simply don’t get bulky from lifting weights. Women’s bodies don’t have enough testosterone to put on bulky muscle the way men do.
Furthermore, it’s hard to put on bulky muscle, even for men. Many bodybuilders eat a very specific diet and exercise in very specific ways to get big muscles. Unless you train to gain bulky muscle, it’s unlikely you’ll find yourself looking like a rippling superhero.
You can ditch the scale.
At some point, after weeks of strength training, your scale will be useless to you. Muscle is denser than fat, meaning that a small amount of muscle is heavier than the same volume of fat. You may find you have the smallest waist you’ve ever had, but the scale says you’ve put on five pounds. As you continue to strength train, it may be better to ditch the scale altogether and use waist, hip, thigh and other measurements to keep an eye on your progress.
Your bones get stronger, too.
Lifting heavy weight puts stress on your bones. Stress stimulates bone growth, helping your bones get stronger and denser. Strength training can help keep you healthy as you age, slowing bone and muscle loss.
Resistance training can also ease joint pain. Strong muscles keep your joints in place and ease the load on weight-bearing joints. Your knees will thank you after a few weeks of squats.
More muscle means more calories burned, even just sitting there.
Muscle cells take more energy to maintain than fat cells. By putting on more muscle, you actually make your body use up more calories with every movement and even when you’re sitting. While it’s unclear just how many extra calories muscles burn (it likely varies from person to person), researchers agree that more muscle can make it easier to burn away fat.
Though cardiovascular activity can burn away both fat and muscle tissues, strength training only burns fat. You’ll find that strength training helps lower your body fat percentage much more efficiently than cardiovascular activity alone.
Everyday tasks become easier.
When you have stronger muscles, the things you do every day become just a little easier. Whether it’s carrying groceries, rearranging furniture or lifting a child, suddenly you’ll find you can do more without straining. You’ll even have better balance, reducing your risk of falling and improving your performance in other types of exercise.
Say goodbye to back pain.
By strengthening your back and abdominal muscles, you can actually reduce the strain on your spine. Over time, strength training improves your posture and gives you relief from lower back pain.
Strength training offers more benefits than cardiovascular activity alone. For the healthiest you, try to incorporate both strength training and cardiovascular activity into your fitness routine.