Well, why shouldn’t you? Women are renowned for just sticking to the aerobic activities and that weight training is a man thing. There is a misconception of bulking up and looking like a hulk, relax, this is unlikely to happen to you (that requires precise nutrition, strict workout schedules and a little magic).
There are a numerous benefits to your physical and mental health that lifting weights and resistance training can give you. Overall, weight training can improve your quality of life; it has been shown to be beneficial for the physical health and psychological wellbeing in women:
The physical benefits
- Increases in strength – using resistance exercise and strength training routines will make you stronger. The body is an amazing being, if you challenge your body it will adapt to those challenges. Using weights gives your body an added challenge that it has to adapt to.
- Change in body composition – one of the greatest misconceptions is that by weight training you will bulk up. This is not the case, and has been demonstrated countless times by the research community. Yes, you may see an increase in muscle mass but this is often coupled with a reduction in body fat leading to an improved body composition. Often, women will see no change in overall body weight, or a decrease due to the reduction in fat mass.
- Increases in your metabolism – muscle requires more energy than fat. The more muscle we have, the more energy the body requires just to maintain its basic functions. By increasing your overall muscle mass (changing and improving your body composition), you increase the number of calories your body burns on a daily basis. Yes, that’s right, whilst sitting reading this, you could be burning more calories all thanks to weight training.
- Help to reduce your risk of injury – many injuries can come about due to a lack of strength or conditioning. An injury is normally caused by taking the body beyond its capacity, it can no longer physically handle what is happening to it. By weight training and making yourself stronger and better conditioned you increase your bodies capacity, which subsequently reduce your risk of injury.
- Bone mineral density – this is very important, especially for women. Healthy women as early as 30 have been shown to have a reduction in their bone mineral density, which continues to reduce as you get older. A decrease in bone mineral density can lead to osteoporosis; where your bones become weak and fragile, increasing your risk of fractures. Weight training helps to reduce your risk of osteoporosis by maintaining our bone mineral density. Some studies have even shown bone mineral density to improve in populations exhibiting low numbers, so it’s never too late.
The psycho-social benefits
- Social interaction – participating in weight training doesn’t have to be a lonely affair, join a club, convince your friends to try or make new friends in the process. Working out with others is great; you have your own motivation team to help you along your way.
- Improvement in body image and body satisfaction – alongside the physical changes in body composition a number of studies have shown that women’s’ body satisfaction and how they feel about their body image significantly improves.
- Improvements in self-esteem and self-concept – Following a period of weight training, as with the changes to body satisfaction, women have also reported improvements in self-esteem and self-concept (how we feel about ourselves).
- Increased competence – the more you train the easier everything will become. You will be getting stronger and improving all the exercises you do. You’ll be squatting and deadlifting your bodyweight in no time, not to mention those chin ups.
- Improves your mood – there isn’t a better way than burning off that steam with a workout. When we are active the brain releases endorphins that make us feel fantastic. Weight training provides us with a big dose of these endorphins (not to mention all the reasons above that make us feel great about ourselves).
With all of the benefits, why shouldn’t you lift weights? If you are starting out, ask someone to show you the best way to do the exercises, every gym and fitness facility will have dedicated staff to help you. Alternatively sign up to a weight lifting or resistance training class or get a session with a trainer.