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Why Women Should Lift Heavy Weights (Workouts Included)

“If you can crush it in the gym, you can crush it at life.”

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Women often make excuses as to why they can’t or won’t lift weights – a lot of them derived from myths about the effect of strength training on women – such as:

 “I’m afraid I’ll get bulky.” 

“I don’t know what I’m doing.”

“That’s a guy thing.”

“I’d rather do cardio because it burns more calories.”

Here’s the answer,

Why you won’t get bulky:

5 Reasons To Try Reverse Dieting 3

Hormones: Most women simply do not possess the level of testosterone necessary to support a bulky physique. Furthermore, any woman that does have a massively muscular physique is probably supplementing with hormones. While we all have different genetics, and some of us are prone to having more muscle density than others, as a general rule you have to train for bulk to get bulk.

Ask any bodybuilder and they will tell you – gaining muscle isn’t easy. You won’t turn into a she-hulk just because you perform squats with your bodyweight, but you will end up with a righteous backside.

Training model: Along those same lines as genetics, the way you train will play a significant role in determining how your body develops. Hypertrophy is not as easy as you might think, and most people work incredibly hard to make sure their training program supports muscle maximum muscle growth in as short a time span as possible.

I’ve seen a lot personal trainers and everyone has said the same thing; that not a single woman has come to them with the complaint that they are too bulky (muscly bulky). As a general rule, most women they train are put on a 3-5x/week training program consisting of full body free weight training (squats, lunges, deadlifts, pullups, pushups, rows, presses), kettlebell training (swings, snatches) and interval training. The key is to utilize as many compound, combination and full body movements as possible, so that we aren’t isolating muscle groups to increase their size, rather increasing lean mass and decreasing fat simultaneously.

Of course, much of this is dependent upon your diet, and a bulking diet looks far different than a solid nutritional protocol for a woman on a fat loss program. The bottom line is that the way you eat and train will determine how your body develops. A full body training program and a diet rich in protein, veggies and healthy fats is an effective path towards fat loss and strength for most women.

Whatever your reason for not lifting, set it aside. Women should strength train and lift heavy.

There are numerous health and physique benefits for women who lift. Not only does it help you live longer by reducing your risk of chronic illnesses, it also helps you achieve your goal body faster. Let’s explore some more reasons to add some heavy iron to your weekly routine.

1. Increased fat burn

We often think of cardio as the ultimate means to a flatter stomach, but cardio only burns calories and fat while you’re doing it. When you lift weights, your body consumes more oxygen during and after the training, known as excess post-oxygen consumption or EPOC. The more oxygen your body consumes, the higher your metabolic rate. The more muscle you gain, the more fat you burn. 

2. Increased calorie burn efficiency

Muscle contractions help us burn calories throughout the day. The more muscle contractions you experience, the more calories you burn. The more muscle you have, the more muscle contractions you will experience. Muscle burns more calories than does fat, so why not add some muscle to your body to increase your constant calorie burn?

3. Heart health

Strength training can reduce your risk of heart disease by lowering blood pressure and bad cholesterol levels. The American Heart Association recommends strength training to lower your risk of cardiovascular diseases.

 4. Bone strength

Regularly lifting weights will help increase your bone density over time, which helps reduce your risk of fracture and osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is much more common in women than it is in men because, due to menopause, women lose approximately 20% of their bone mass, on average. The older we get, the more our bone density and mass decreases. Weight lifting helps slow or stop this process.

Exercise helps us reduce stress and feel happier because we release endorphins when we work out. Studies have consistently shown that those who regularly add weight lifting to their routine handle stress better and are less affected by stressful situations. A Harvard study found that women who lift weights reduced their symptoms of depression and felt more confident and capable.[1]

6. Increased balance and reduced risk of injury

Lifting weights helps you strengthen your core, and the stronger your core, the better your balance. Having a stronger sense of balance can help you perform better athletically and in every day life. Lifting weights also increases your joint stability and builds stronger connective tissue, which helps prevent injury. Strength training especially helps reduce back pain and incidence of back injury. Having a stronger core will also improve your overall posture.

7. Increased energy and better sleep quality

Lifting weights stimulates your brain and improves your alertness, giving you an energy boost. Strength training increases your energy expenditure for hours after you train, so lifting in the morning will help you maintain energy throughout the day. Studies also show that adding strength training to your morning routine helps you fall asleep faster, stay asleep longer and wake less during the night.

Why is it so important to be strong?

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Metabolism and muscles: Firstly, and perhaps most cogent, is the effect that lifting weights has on fat loss. The more muscle a woman has, the more calories she will burn at rest. So basically, muscles speed up your metabolism, resulting in more effective fat loss.

Bone health: Many studies have shown that lifting weights regularly can increase bone density. Those of us in our 20s and 30s don’t think about this often, but someday you will. And won’t you be so proud of yourself that you lifted weights and cared for your bone density before you even knew you needed to?

Independence: I always say that strong makes everything easier. You know that furniture you need moved? Well, now you can do it yourself. How about those 15 bags of groceries? One trip from car to home–all you, girl.

Confidence: Strong girls exude a confidence that is intoxicating. I happen to believe that this comes from the knowledge that you can accomplish pretty impressive feats at the gym. When you realize your outer strength, you can tap into your inner strength, and that begins to radiate. Confidence is a very attractive quality and that gym confidence starts to leak into every other aspect of life.

if you can crush it in the gym, you can crush it at life.

So now what?

why women should lift weights

Maybe I’ve convinced you. Perhaps now, you’re thinking you’re going to toss your 3 pound weights, hop off the elliptical and give this whole strength thing a shot. Where should you begin? The following 3x/week basic program is a great place for beginners to realize their strength potential and start their body transformation:

(I recommend beginning each training session with dynamic mobility, glute bridges, planks and Turkish get ups)

Day 1

Squats: 6-8 reps

Bent over row: 8-10 reps

Push press: 8-10 reps

Perform these in order, then complete 3-5 rounds.

After that, pick your favorite cardio exercise. Go hard for 30 seconds, then rest (or go easy) for 60 seconds. Repeat this 5-8 times.

Day 2

Deadlifts: 6-8 reps

Pushups: 8-10 reps

Kettlebell swings: 15-20 reps

Perform these in order, then complete 3-5 rounds.

After that, pick your favorite cardio exercise. Go hard for 30 seconds, then rest (or go easy) for 45 seconds. Repeat this 5-8 times.

Day 3

Reverse lunges: 8-10 reps (each side)

Assisted Chin-ups: 5-8 reps

Jump squats: 5-8 reps

Perform these in order, then complete 3-5 rounds.

After that, pick your favorite cardio exercise. Go hard for 30 seconds, then rest (or go easy) for 30 seconds. Repeat this 5-8 times.

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