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Many women still avoid weights training in case it makes them big and muscly. In this blog I hope to explain why this just won’t happen, and why training with weights is probably the best thing you can do to get the body you want.
Why is weight training so great for women?
First of all, let’s just fully debunk the myth that lifting weights will suddenly turn you into Arnie overnight. You have to really try to put on a lot of muscle. There is no way you will do it by accident.
The main hormone involved in building muscle mass is testosterone, and women have around 10% of the amount that men have. Most men have to work VERY hard to gain serious muscle, and they are actually trying! They eat A LOT, train hard and often, and take supplements specifically to gain muscle, and they still find it tough.
For women, training with weights can produce a small amount of muscle gain, but only to the point of looking toned and athletic. What it will also do is help you lose fat, and below I’ll explain how this happens.
Here are just some of the benefits you can expect from training with weights:
You’ll become stronger
Every woman likes to feel strong, right? It’s great to feel that you don’t need a man for every task that involves a heavy object. You can handle it yourself!
Becoming stronger makes you feel EMPOWERED. You become stronger mentally as well as physically. You boost your confidence.
Every new weight you lift in the gym means self-improvement. You start to realise just what your body is capable of, and it’s a great feeling.
You’ll burn more fat
Muscle tissue is very ‘metabolically active’, meaning it requires consistent calories to keep it alive and functioning. So the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn throughout the day, even at rest.
If you are not overeating, a good proportion of these calories will be taken from fat stores, effectively “burning”body fat. You don;t actually “burn” through body fat, you simply utilise stored fat for fuel.
When you are regularly weights training to become stronger, you are working deep in the muscle fibres and causing a small amount of damage that the body then repairs. This is something you don’t tend to feel after the first few sessions, but it continues to happen every time.
The body takes around 24-48 hours to repair this damage, and during this time your metabolism is raised, as the repair process requires extra calories.
If your body is regularly repairing itself from a bout of weight training, a large chunk of the calories you eat will be burned in muscle cells, rather being stored in fat cells.
You can eat more food
This is a big one for me! I love my food, as I’m sure you do too.
The boost in metabolism that weights training causes means your body requires more calories to function, and burns them off easier. So you can eat more than you could if you were not training regularly.
Now this doesn’t mean you can go out and eat as much as you want, because you still need to be burning off more than you’re eating if you want to lose weight. But it does mean you never have to restrict yourself so much that you keep getting hungry.
And you can enjoy a few more meals out and desserts here and there without it making a big difference to your progress.
You’ll get more from your other activities
Having stronger and more active muscle tissue will complement any other activities you do too. You’ll be less likely to get injured because your joints will be more stable and better supported.
People often find they improve at golf, tennis, badminton and any other sports they play because they are able to move better and have more power in their muscles.
Those that do pilates and yoga find that they can hold the positions better and achieve more advanced moves due to their increased strength. You’ll probably even find getting up out of a chair and climbing the stairs becomes easier!
Plus if you do any kind of interval training or intense cardio such as spinning, you’ll be able to recruit more muscle, produce more power and burn more calories due to having trained your muscles with weights.
You’ll look toned rather than ‘skinny-fat’
If you consistently burn off more calories than you consume, you will lose weight whether you train with weights or not. But there will be a BIG difference in how you look depending on which path you choose.
Lose weight just with dieting and cardio, and you’ll become a smaller version of you, but you’ll likely still have wobbly bits you don’t like. Bingo wings and saggy bums are common with this method of weight loss. People often refer to this appearance as skinny-fat – you’re slimmer, but still soft around the edges.
You’ll also have to keep eating less as your body gets smaller, because you’ll have lost muscle as well as fat and so your metabolism will have dropped considerably. You’ll have to stay at this low level of calories indefinitely to avoid putting the weight back on again.
Lose weight through weights training, and your body will transform. The fat will melt away to reveal a tighter, more toned version of you. You’ll notice muscle appearing in all the right places – giving shape to your bum and firmness to your arms and thighs.
You’ll be able to keep eating well and not feel hungry. You’ll actually be able to start eating MORE over time if you continue to be active and train for strength. Clothes will fit you better and you’ll look and feel stronger and more confident.
Make sure you’re doing it right
Weights training is our number one exercise tool when it comes to fat loss. It’s extremely effective but it’s also very important to know you’re doing it right.
Make sure you have a qualified trainer or instructor go through technique with you to ensure you’re safe and getting the most from your time and efforts.
We’re more than happy to help you with this at the Performance Project – we offer one to one coaching, female-only group training and Introduction to Weights Training courses.
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