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Why Women Need Weight Training To Improve Body Composition

The secret for women to obtain a healthier, firmer, and more toned looking body is no longer a secret. For years, women have traditionally relied on a belief that combining aerobic activity with a low calorie diet would be the most effective means for changing their shape.

Unfortunately, most have found out after painstaking effort that this practice doesn’t work very well. The fact is that low calorie diets only punish the body by compromising necessary nutrition and significantly lowering metabolism, thus making weight loss more difficult. The quick weight loss that occurs in low calorie diets often includes the quick loss of muscle tissue.

This is ineffective for several reasons. It is the lean muscle tissue that will keep your metabolism high through out the day. By sacrificing lean muscle you’ll make it difficult to lose body fat. Changing your shape always starts with increasing lean muscle. Remember you can’t tone fat only muscle! 

I have always been amazed to see how committed many women are with their programs even when they’re not seeing results from what they're doing. The problem is ultimately they have a faulty belief system. They ask themselves, “How could this not be working? I’ve been consistent on my diet and whatever exercise they're doing, and I still can’t see the results!” Unfortunately, many women will eventually get so frustrated they just quit or try doing more of what's "not working." Remember the definition of insanity....

Misconceptions about fitness have caused many women to be without a very important part of a successful program. So what is the secret? The secret is weight training. But wait a minute you say, I don’t want to get big and bulky! Who ever told you that you would?

Most women have historically related weight training to bodybuilders. The thought of weight training has conjured up an image of someone being very muscular. This idea, even though a misconception to think that everyone who picks up a weight will get "bulky," has been enough to keep most women away from weight training.

Today, many women are learning from personal trainers and fitness professionals that this just isn’t true. While it is true that bodybuilders often lift heavy weights to build muscle, they do so with very specific techniques to create the muscle growth.

Lifting weights alone will not create this muscle growth or hypertrophy. The main reason weight training will not make women big and bulky is due to the physiological differences between men and women. The main precursor for muscular hypertrophy is the hormone testosterone. Males have significantly higher levels of this hormone than women and are thus more suited for muscular growth.

Women will not undergo the same increases in muscular growth that men do because they have 20-30 times lower testosterone levels. The lower level of testosterone in women is also a reason why sedentary women will lose as much as ½ pound of muscle every year after the age of 30. This results in a corresponding decrease in metabolism making weight gain much easier.

Women become disabled later in life with such conditions as osteoporosis, diabetes, and obesity largely because of this muscle loss. The good news is that weight training can reverse the muscle loss that helps to create these very conditions.

A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that post-menopausal women can reduce their body fat, increase muscle mass, build up their bones, and improve their balance by lifting weights on a regular basis. Experts say the benefits of weight training are now indisputable, to both prevent the effects of aging in pre-menopausal women and reverse the effects of aging in post-menopausal women.

Weight training isn’t just for bodybuilders anymore. In short, weight training performed correctly will have more effect on changing a woman's shape than any other form of exercise. I should note, I am by no means discrediting the importance of aerobic exercise. Aerobic exercise is an essential part of your program. However, weight training and aerobic exercise are not interchangeable. In other words, we cannot use either method to get the same results. A well designed weight training program should be combined with a balanced diet and cardiovascular exercise to maximize results and optimize overall health. Listed below are a few of the benefits women can receive through weight training.

Lose more fat while gaining lean muscle

As you add lean muscle from weight training your resting metabolism will increase. You’ll end up burning more calories all day long, not just when you’re exercising. For each 1lb of lean muscle you gain you may burn up to 120 calories more per day.

Become a stronger woman

Moderate weight training increases a woman’s strength by 30 to 50%. Extra strength will make it easier to accomplish daily activities many women take for granted like lifting a child or a grocery bag, etc.

Reduce the risk of Osteoporosis, Heart Disease, and Diabetes

Weight training has been proven to increase bone density and naturally maintain hormone levels. Both are critical steps towards the prevention of osteoporosis. Did you know that Heart Disease affects women more often than men? Recent studies have shown that strength training combined with cardiovascular exercise improves blood pressure, lowers total cholesterol, and greatly reduces the risk of a heart attack.

Weight training will also help you decrease the total amount of fat in your body composition. Adult-onset diabetes is a disease that often affects overweight individuals. Research has shown that weight training can increase glucose utilization in the body by over 20% in just four months.

Improve your tolerance for stress

Weight training will help put your body under some “good” stress. It may sound ironic but a hard workout will leave you feeling relaxed afterwards. This post-exercise euphoria is caused by an endorphin release in the body. Exercise also helps to reduce your cortisol levels, the main hormone behind stress production.

Improve your mental outlook

The improvements in your body will relate to a corresponding improvement in your mind. A recent Harvard study found that 10 weeks of strength training reduced clinical depression symptoms more successfully than standard counseling. Women who strength train often report feeling more confident and capable as a result of their program. The end result is happier, healthier lives.

If I can help you with a customized workout program to meet your individual wants and needs please don't hesitate to let me know.

Shane Doll is a certified Charleston personal trainer, motivational speaker, mentor, and servant of Christ. He has over 20 years experience with fitness coaching and consulting and is the owner of Shaping Concepts Personal Fitness Training Studio located in Mount Pleasant, SC.


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