This article is the third article in FITNESS 101 series.
In this article, you’ll learn about why you must lift weights, especially if you are a woman.
You need to lift weights as a woman! No, I’m not talking about those pink, 1kg dumbbells that have become some women’s favourite. I’m talking about weights.
To lift weights or not
One reason is that many cardio exercises don’t require special instructions or equipment. For instance, you don’t need anyone to teach you how to walk or run; these are movement patterns that come naturally to every healthy human (You may need someone to coach you on the proper running form if you plan to make distance running a hobby. Having a running coach will help you become a better recreation runner and help you prevent running-related injuries). And don’t need any instructor to teach you how to groove to the beat of your favourite songs; you just want to move with the beat But when it comes to strength training, you have to know what you are doing and do it the right way for it to be safe and effective.
Why you must lift weights, especially if you are a woman
Some women don’t want to lift weights because they think lifting weights will make them look bulky like men.
Let me set the record straight. Weight training doesn’t make a woman look bulky. Women usually don’t produce a high level of testosterone –a steroid hormone that is responsible for such increase in muscle mass in men.
Increased muscular strength and endurance: If you have ever walked with heavy shopping bags in both arms for 5-10 minutes, you’ll appreciate the importance of muscular strength and endurance. You need strength to be able to carry the weights (the heavy bags), and you need the endurance to be able to walk for a longer period without dropping the weights.
What’s muscular strength? “Muscular strength the ability of the muscles to exert an external force or lift a heavy weight.”
If you’ve ever moved a piece of furniture by lifting, pushing or pulling, that is your muscles exerting a force on the furniture. And if you’ve done a push-up before, that is muscular strength in action. Whether it is controlling your body weight or exerting force against an external resistance (moving things), a certain level muscular strength is required.
What’s muscular endurance? “Muscular endurance is the ability of the muscles to exert themselves repeatedly.”
Being able to do a single push-up or pull-up is a show of muscular strength, how many reps you can do before you get tired shows muscular endurance.
Increased bone density: Regular strength training improves bone density and joint integrity. That means a reduced risk for osteoporosis and arthritis. This benefit is one of the primary reasons women should take strength training very serious.
Decreased body fat: Strength training increases muscle mass and decreases fat mass. The more muscle a person has, the more calories she can burn at rest. Why? At rest, a pound of fat uses between 2-3 calories per day but a pound of muscle uses 7-10 calories per day.
Muscle definition: There is a training principle called The Principle of Specificity. According to the principle of specificity, the benefits you get from your exercise program are very specific to the type of exercise you perform.
What that means is this, when you do strength training on a regular basis you are putting demands on the skeletal muscles, and they will respond by increasing in size and strength. That is how you’ll get a trimmed and well-defined physique.
Another reason you should lift weights
Not yet convinced about the benefits of lifting weights? Let me give you another good reason women should lift weights. As we get older as women, we begin to lose muscle mass, and our ability to burn more calories at rest goes down (blame it on biology).
Slow metabolism is the name of this condition, but regular weight training can slow down the biological process.
Cardio or weight training, which burns the most calories?
Let’s go back to the principle of specificity I mentioned earlier, the benefits you gain from your exercise program are determined by the type of exercise you do. Running, swimming, cycling and dancing are all cardio exercises; therefore they cannot produce the benefits of strength training.
If all you do is running, you can’t expect to gain muscular strength from that type of training. And if all you do strength training, you can’t expect to have the cardio-respiratory fitness of a runner.
It’s true that running burns more calories
Yes, you’ll burn more calories during an hour of cardio training than you’ll burn during an hour of traditional strength training.
For many people, the number of calories they burn during an exercise session is a key motivator, but here is a big deal about strength training: see that picture of a perfect body you have in your mind? You are not going to get it through the traditional cardio exercise alone!
Yes, you will lose weight with traditional cardio. But you’re not going to gain the significant muscle mass that will make your body look well-toned and trimmed.
How it works
When you lose fat without increasing muscle mass what you get is the flabby skin you don’t like. But when you add strength training to your exercise routine, as you are losing excess fat your muscles are also getting defined, giving your body the shape and appearance you’d love to have.
Add strength training to your exercise routine. It’s a great way to trim and lean.