Why ALL Girls should Lift Heavy

A commonly perpetuated stereotype of women who lift is that they will end up with larger, bulkier figures. Basically, you will just end up super jacked, when what you really want is to resemble those tanned and toned fit girls on your favorite fitspo account. There no way lifting like a guy could make you look like more of a girl, right? Wrong.

Spending an hour on the treadmill, eating tiny portions, and doing hundreds of sit-ups will burn fat for sure. However, that doesn’t sound like too much fun. Incorporating some form of weight training is a great way to attain tone, as well as maintain and build curves. Braving the weight room can transform your body, your fitness routine, and give you a confidence boost like no other.

Accelerates fat-loss when combined with cardio

Having an exercise regimen that relies solely on cardio for fat-loss will eventually lead to stagnation as your metabolic rate will continue to drop as your body adapts to the demand you put on it. Therefore, the prudent thing to do is incorporate more bouts of weight training while keeping cardio to as low of a frequency as possible (while still achieving your fat-loss goals). In fact a study recently published in the Journal of Applied Physiology showed that concurrent training (combining weight and endurance training) greatly enhanced the metabolic effects of each mode of training on their own.

Increases calorie expenditure

Vigorous weight training actually boosts your metabolic rate throughout the day, which in turn makes you more efficient at burning body-fat when you’re not exercising. It appears that the primary mechanism for this is increased mitochondria in cells, via a process known as mitochondrial biogenesis. Mitochondria are basically the “powerhouse” of cells and by increasing these organelles you increase your metabolic rate/daily calorie expenditure. Numerous studies have illustrated that weight training greatly enhances such biochemical adaptations, while doing too much cardio can do just the opposite (decrease mitochondrial content in cells/lower metabolic rate).

Eat more

That’s right, it’s true. The increase caloric expenditure leaves room for more nutritious food to be eaten throughout the day. This is by no means a free pass for daily indulgence. It is especially important to stay clear of foods with a high glycemic index.

What your budding new muscles need are more protein. There are so many tasty options for added protein nowadays – protein bars, homemade shakes, protein-infused cookies (my personal favorite), protein pancakes etc. Especially if you are a vegetarian like me, getting enough protein in your diet is essential to maintaining and shaping a stronger body.

Shapes your curves

Most females feel that the best way to shape their body and achieve a more toned look is by spending hours doing low-intensity cardio. The reality is that the best way to “bring out your curves” is to build strength and muscle. If all you do is constantly endure long bouts of low/moderate intensity cardio then you are basically lowering your metabolic rate while concomitantly losing muscle mass. In the end, you will have lowered your bodyweight but increased your body-fat percentage (i.e. you will look “skinny-fat”). Don’t give in to the idea that you need to be a “cardio bunny” in order to be lean and toned.

Better heart health, blood lipid profiles, and insulin sensitivity

The heart is indeed a muscle (a smooth muscle) and it can be trained much like skeletal muscle. Most females assume that aerobic exercise is inherently the best way to train the heart and improve blood lipid profiles. While that is true, combining aerobic exercise with weight training actually has been shown to do those factors just as effectively, if not even more.

Improves libido

If you’re somewhat familiar with female endocrinology, you hopefully know that estrogen is the primary sex hormone they produce. However, women also produce small amounts of testosterone (the primary male sex hormone) and it appears that boosting testosterone levels in females improves their sex drive and well-being.

Weight training is one of the most effective ways to naturally elevate testosterone levels in both males and females. Hopefully females don’t take this to mean they will suddenly get all hairy and grow a beard just because they hit the iron a few times a week, because that is certainly far from what will happen. The slight elevation in testosterone levels that can be achieved via weight training will serve to enhance your sex life and keep you in a positive mood.

Better sleep quality

Females should aim for 6-8 hours of sleep per night, and they often fall short of this range due to things like stress and poor mood. Numerous studies have demonstrated that a sustained exercise regimen incorporating vigorous weight training can greatly improve sleep quality and the duration of sleep episodes. In fact, weight training provides an effective natural alternative to pharmaceutical interventions in patients with insomnia.

Weight training with heavy resistance, WILL NOT make females bulky

One of the most annoying myths that pervades gyms everywhere is the idea that females who train with relatively heavy weights will suddenly transform into the female equivalent of The Incredible Hulk. Reality is that females should train with heavy weights just like their male counterparts often do and no it won’t make you “bulky” and deepen your voice.