There’s a plenty of research supporting the benefits of weight training for women; however, most women still tend to ignore these benefits, opting, instead, to stick with cardio.
Aside from the myths regarding putting on too much muscle, resulting in looking “bulky,” weight training can help women achieve the physique of their dreams by improving lean muscle tone, increasing strength and being one of the most effective ways to lose body fat quickly.
Although cardio is still seen by some as the best way to lose fat that’s not really true, with numerous research studies actually showing weight training can be as effective, if not more so, than just cardio for pure fat loss.
In this article, I’ll discuss some of the unique benefits of weight training for women and why it should become a key tool for you to improve your health & physique.
1. Weight Training Improves Muscle Mass
It goes without saying that weight training can help increase muscle size and quality. Unfortunately, and due to some confusion, it’s often for this very reason that many women actually avoid weight lifting in the first place.
However, I’m here to put an end to that fear, once and for all, and to explain why extra muscle mass isn’t a bad thing.
Firstly, weight training provides immense improvement in both the size and definition of muscle but also increases strength, which can be beneficial regardless of gender (1, 2).
Increasing muscular size and strength is beneficial for both women and men especially as they get older. Strength is a major determining factor in the quality of life, affecting many different aspects of daily living such as standing, reaching, bending and even walking.
While many women fear that weight training will result in them getting too bulky, the chances of this occurring are very unlikely.
Many people train for years on end and never achieve a larger muscular physique. So, the fact that men get bulky isn’t a reason women should avoid it. There are lots of variables and gender differences which render this opinion incorrect.
For example, hormonal variations between men and women result in a significant difference in the ability of men and women to increase muscle mass, giving males an advantage to add bulk (3). The best example is testosterone, a key anabolic hormone, which is 7-10x higher in men.
Additionally, from a simple size perspective, men start from a different standpoint altogether; for example 5lb will look quite different on a man compared to how it looks on a woman, especially if they are training different muscle groups.
Finally, lots of muscular men you may see on TV, in magazines or at the gym may be taking anabolic steroids, which expedites growth by another few hundred percent. As you can see, you won’t simply get bulky because you lift weight. If you do gain muscle, it would take 3-5 years to see noticeable amounts of mass even if you are lucky, so, you have plenty of time to pause when you attain a level you are happy with.
2. Weight Training Gives You That Athletic, Tight Physique
Since weight training can help improve muscle mass, it can also help give the impression of a more defined and athletic physique.
In fact, thousands of members in my 90 Day Bikini plan are using my advanced metabolic weight training routines to burn body fat fast while also quickly toning up and achieving a lean and defined physique at the same time.
By slightly increasing the relative size of the muscle, it’s possible to give the impression of having a more well-defined and toned physique, especially as you drop fat. Additionally, this can often occur without having to go on a restrictive diet to lose body fat.
While most weight loss diets leave you looking ‘skinny fat’, a well-designed fat loss diet combined with weight training will get you much closer to a tight, toned and fit or athletic look.
Not to mention the fact that simply lifting weights will probably result in a reduction in fat mass, as I go on to discuss in the following section.
3. Weight Training Shreds Body Fat
What if I told you that weight training can actually help you lose body fat to a greater extent than normal cardio? While you may think I’ve gone crazy, I explained earlier that lots of independent research studies support this.
In fact, you’re much more likely to lose body fat over the long term using resistance training or a combination of resistance training and cardio, than traditional cardiovascular based exercise alone.
The first reason for this phenomenon is because weight lifting often requires many different muscle groups to be working simultaneously, rather than just your legs for example.
This is especially true when using compound movements such as squats and deadlifts, since these movements require intense coordination of many different muscle groups in order to move you safely and effectively. In doing so, this requires a tremendous amount of energy usage or calorie expenditure.
Remember, muscle mass is also metabolic, and requires more energy than fat does, in order to contract and function daily. In terms of survival, having excess muscle mass is one of the lowest priorities on the body’s agenda as it requires more fuel. This is because it takes so much energy to maintain and even build up; but, as long as you aren’t starving in the wilderness, this is actually beneficial for fat loss and weight maintenance.
In short, when you have more muscle mass you increase the amount of energy that the body needs to produce and burn, even at rest. This is a concept called Resting Energy Expenditure (4).
The result of having extra muscle mass (as opposed to body fat) is that it will require more energy to maintain, which means you burn more calories on a daily basis, helping you get or stay leaner. It’s also key for long-term weight maintenance – imagine, if you burn 200 calories more per day, this equates to 73,000 calories per year or over 20lb of fat!
4. Weight Lifting Can Help You Feel Happier
Many people often consider exercise to be an effective antidepressant.
Fortunately, research backs this up, showing that the use of higher intensity exercise, such as intense weight training, can actually significantly help to alleviate symptoms of depression (5, 6, 7).
In fact, one study even indicated that reductions in symptoms of depression are directly correlated with levels of strength. Meaning, the stronger you are, the less likely you’ll feel depressed (7).
These effects of exercise can be widely explained by natural opioids or endorphins.
Intense exercise actually up-regulates receptors in the body that endorphins attach to. So, while during exercise you may feel discomfort, in doing so you are actually enabling endorphins to become more effective afterwards (8).
Of course, as we know, cardio can also do the same. But most people don’t believe they get the same buzz from cardio as weight training. While it always comes down to the individual, after sometime people often report even greater feelings of happiness after weight training.
Long term, weight training is going to help you improve your physique to a greater extent than just cardio and will also likely help with long-term happiness and confidence.
5. Weight Training Can Help Combat Osteoporosis
A major concern for women during aging is the risk of osteoporosis.
In fact, women are twice as likely as men to be diagnosed with this condition. While lack of weight-bearing exercise likely isn’t the sole reason for this (other factors such as hormones and menopause are involved) weight training can certainly help improve bone density and reduce your risk!
The reason that weightlifting can help ward of osteoporosis is because loading bone structures with weight is actually the number one way to build up and strengthen bones (9). It works in exactly the same way as the mechanism behind muscle growth: the extra stimulus causes the body to adapt and grow.
Here’s an overview of how it works. Firstly, when a bone is under stress from weight such as during resistance training, and if the load is heavy enough, the bone will actually begin to bend, ever so slightly (you can’t feel this). If there is sufficient stress placed on the bone during heavy weight training it stimulates the migration of something called osteoblasts.
These osteoblasts are cells which migrate to stressed bone areas and actually help to formulate new structural support. Imagine them as hundreds of little workers running to a building to support it. In doing so, the bone’s density increases which can help support it in the workouts to come and in the long term, preventing future issues such as osteoporosis.
5 Benefits Of Weight Training For Women
Despite many years of the media and general myths saying women should lifter lighter, none of the research even slightly suggests or supports this.
Saying that women should do so is actually counterproductive, limiting their ability to progress towards their goals, and to improve bone health or lose fat. There’s absolutely no benefit from lifting light for any reason as the body only adapts when it is pushed.
It’s just like telling women to never run, suggesting that instead they should only ever walk. In that scenario they would lose out on many health benefits, including increased fitness and heart health, making it harder to lose weight compared to if they performed higher intense running.
Improvements in strength, bone health, reductions in depressive symptoms and improved body composition are just some of the awesome and quick benefits you will see after you commence a well-designed and advanced weight lifting routine.
If you want to get over 25 done-for-you and expert designed workout templates from me, you can grab them here as part of the 90 Day Bikini plan.
- Charette, S., McEvoy, L., Pyka, G., Snow-Harter, C., Guido, D., Wiswell, R. A., & Marcus, R. (1991). Muscle hypertrophy response to resistance training in older women. Journal of applied Physiology, 70(5), 1912-1916.
- Schoenfeld, B. J. (2010). The mechanisms of muscle hypertrophy and their application to resistance training. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 24(10), 2857-2872.
- Granger, D. A., Shirtcliff, E. A., ZAHN–WAXLER, C. A. R. O. L. Y. N., Usher, B., KLIMES–DOUGAN, B. O. N. N. I. E., & Hastings, P. (2003). Salivary testosterone diurnal variation and psychopathology in adolescent males and females: Individual differences and developmental effects. Development and Psychopathology, 15(2), 431-449.
- Schoeller DA, Ravussin E, Schutz Y, Acheson KJ, Baertschi P, Jequier E. Energy expenditure by doubly-labeled water: validation in humans and proposed calculations. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab 1986; 250: R823–30.
- Willis, L. H., Slentz, C. A., Bateman, L. A., Shields, A. T., Piner, L. W., Bales, C. W., … & Kraus, W. E. (2012). Effects of aerobic and/or resistance training on body mass and fat mass in overweight or obese adults. Journal of applied physiology, 113(12), 1831-1837.
- Singh, N. A., Clements, K. M., & Fiatarone, M. A. (1997). A randomized controlled trial of progressive resistance training in depressed elders. The Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences, 52(1), M27-M35.
- Singh, N. A., Stavrinos, T. M., Scarbek, Y., Galambos, G., Liber, C., Fiatarone Singh, M. A., & Morley, J. E. (2005). A randomized controlled trial of high versus low intensity weight training versus general practitioner care for clinical depression in older adults. The Journals of Gerontology: Series A, 60(6), 768-776.
- Knoll, A. T., & Carlezon, W. A. (2010). Dynorphin, stress, and depression. Brain research, 1314, 56-73.
- Layne, J. E., & Nelson, M. E. (1999). The effects of progressive resistance training on bone density: a review. Medicine and science in sports and exercise, 31(1), 25-30.