Lifting weights has traditionally been a bit of a ‘man’s world’, but nowadays more and more women are realising the extensive benefits that come from resistance training. Before we go any further let’s get one thing clear – resistance training does not necessarily mean going to the gym and heading straight to the barbells (which I know can be intimidating). Resistance training is any exercise that forces your skeletal muscles to contract. An external resistance is used to cause these contractions. This external resistance can be anything: your own body weight; resistance bands; bottles of water; dumb bells; the list goes on and on.
So what are the benefits of resistance training?
1. You will burn more calories, even in your sleep
As your muscle increases, so does your resting metabolism, which means that you are burning more calories without any extra effort.
2. You will become stronger
Being stronger helps immensely in your day to day life, whether it is lifting your heavy shopping bags or carrying your child. Oh, and don’t worry – women typically don’t gain size from resistance training due to the much lower levels of hormones that cause muscle growth. Which means you’ll develop muscle tone and definition without bulking up.
3. Your bones will be stronger
Osteoporosis (low bone mass and deterioration of bone tissue) is a real concern and women are at a much high risk of developing it. Resistance exercise helps increase bone density, which reduces the risk of developingOsteoporosis.
4. Increased EPOC
EPOC (Excess Post-Excercise Oxygen Consumption) means that your body continues to need oxygen at a higher rate than before the exercise began and energy expenditure therefore increases as your body is still working to make up for the defecit. Research (i) has shown that high intensity resistance training produces a prolonged elevation of postexercise metabolic rate.
Which basically means, you continue to burn calories even after you’ve finished your workout!
5. You will be happier with what you see in the mirror
The tendency nowadays is to want a lean, strong and toned-looking physique, rather than just trying to be ‘skinny’. The only way to achieve the strong and toned part of this is through resistance training.
Don’t forget there is a big difference between weight loss and fat loss. When most people say they want to lose weight, they really mean they want to lose fat because I assume you don’t really want to lose the muscle which gives you the shape of your body! If you talk about ‘toning’ or ‘shaping’ your body, what you really mean is that you want to build a certain level of muscle and then lost enough fat so that you can see that muscle.
6. Reduce your risk of injury
Resistance training not only builds stronger bones and muscles, it also builds stronger connective tissues and increases joint stability. This reinforces the joints and helps to prevent injury during exercise and also in day to day life.
7. Alleviate back pain
By strengthening the lower-back muscles back pain can often be eliminated or at least alleviated.
8. Be happier!
Any type of high intensity exercise will help you lead a happier life due to the endorphins released when you train and women often feel more confident in themselves once they start resistance training.
(i) Resistance Training and EPOC: http://www.drlenkravitz.com/Articles/epoc.html