Why women should lift weights

Words by Emma Jane Shail

When I mention lifting weights I often hear, “will lifting weights make me bulky?”,  “or I don’t want to get big and muscly, I just want to get toned”. However, it’s actually incredibly difficult to ‘get big and muscly’. The guys you see in gyms with big muscles work exceptionally hard and eat a restricted diet to look that way and those ladies with big glutes on Instagram work very hard to achieve that look not to mention the help of good lighting and the right angle from the camera. Although following a weight training program will help you to become leaner and more defined, it won’t make you big and bulky. In-fact our bodies are made up of fat and lean mass.  There is no substance called ‘toned’. Toned actually means having less body fat and more muscle.

I’ve been weight training for about 3 years and previously to that I was a regular at a well know weights based class. I lift heavy and I don’t think you could accuse me of being big and bulky. I have always enjoyed sport. Back in high school, I used to play hockey, tennis and take part in athletics.  Weight training was new to me and starting with a class gave me the confidence to not be afraid of weights. I know it can feel intimidating, to begin with, but there’s really no reason to feel this way.  

Here at Renaissance Fitness, we have lots of lovely female members and we can work with you to achieve your goals by providing you with a personalised training program. We also go through it with you to understand the exercises and we’re on hand if you have any questions when you’re training. We are also running a class on a Saturday morning which incorporates strength training if you would prefer to train in a class environment. 

I thought I would discuss with you some of the benefits of weight training and how it is an excellent way to train for women. I am not dismissing cardio by any means, in fact, I’m an avid runner. However weights are amazing, they help with:

1. Fat loss; Weight training is a very effective way to burn calories and with weight training, you burn calories during and after exercise. This is known as Excessive Post Exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC for short). Also as you increase your lean muscle mass, your body uses calories even when you rest. 

2. Builds lean muscle; You can usually tell if a person does cardio alone with no weight training. You can lose your curves through cardio alone. Weight training can help sculpt your body helping you to look leaner and more defined.  

3. Decreases risk of losing muscle mass; As you age you are at risk of losing bone and muscle mass and evidence suggests that this starts to happen after you hit 30. Weight training helps offset this, in many ways keeping you younger.

4. Fewer injuries, stronger muscles and bones; Overtime bones become stronger as weight training helps increase bone density. Postmenopausal women are at a greater risk of osteoporosis. It has been proven that weight training decreases your risk of developing osteoporosis. 

5. Boots metabolism; Weight training helps to increase your metabolic rate (the rate that you burn calories). This means that with regular weight training you may burn more calories when resting. 

6. Reduces the risk of diabetes; Even a small amount of weight training could help lower the risk of type 2 diabetes as it helps improve glucose tolerance and reduce body-fat.

7. Relieves stress and aids sleep; Exercise, in general, is a great way to reduce stress.  Weight training can greatly improve sleep quality and reduce stress levels.

8. Heart health; Strength training can help heart health because when you weight train you also work your cardiovascular system and therefore increase your heart rate.  Regular weight training is known to improve both systolic and diastolic blood pressure.

9. Stronger muscles – better performance; Weight training can help you perform better in your other sporting interests e.g. it can help you become faster at running.  Here a Renaissance we can provide a strength and conditioning program if you want to improve your performance. 

10. Increase flexibility; It has been proven that regular weight training can increase your flexibility. 

11. Big self-esteem boost! Warning – weight training will make you fitter, stronger and more confident! It releases endorphins which help to make you feel happier and therefore weight training has huge mental health benefits.

Finally, don’t be afraid to lift heavy, you won’t look like Arnold Schwarzenegger. The heavier you lift the more calories you burn!