When it comes to weightlifting, a common misconception among women is that there’s a risk of becoming “too masculine” or appearing “too bulky.”
Neither is true.
Strength training is a crucial part of a balanced fitness routine for all women, regardless of age.
The following are six benefits that women experience from weightlifting.
Develop good movement patterns to reduce pain
Our human movement system is prone to muscle imbalance and the development of dysfunctional movement patterns.
Musculoskeletal conditions are actually the leading contributor to disability worldwide, with low back pain being the single leading cause of disability in 160 countries.
And musculoskeletal pain is commonly attributed to chronic faulty movement patterns.
When weightlifting with a qualified fitness professional (such as a Kaia FIT coach), you can target underactive muscle groups and improve overall movement patterns so that you can ultimately reduce musculoskeletal pain.
In other words, weightlifting can help you move pain-free.
Boost self-confidence with healthy goals
A common issue for women of all ages is poor body image. Strength training can actually improve women’s perceptions of their bodies and increase self-esteem.
When fitness success is restricted to the number on a scale, women are more likely to engage in disordered eating patterns and fad dieting.
Weightlifting offers a change in focus where the goal is tied to increasing strength rather than strictly losing weight. By doing so, you can work toward breaking the cycle of dieting and unrealistic body image goals.
Improve your mood and mental health
Beyond body image and self-esteem, weightlifting also can improve your mood and mental health.
A recent study showed that participants who performed strength-training exercises showed a significant reduction in symptoms of depression.
This isn’t a surprise since the act of exercise produces mood-improving neurotransmitters, such as endorphins, dopamine, and more. Weightlifting, though, has helped women feel more confident and capable as a result.
Increase your resting metabolic rate
Most of our total daily energy expenditure (or calorie burn) comes from our resting metabolic rate or RMR. And your lean body mass (such as muscle, bones, connective tissue, and body water) greatly impacts your overall RMR, especially because muscle is highly metabolically active. This means that muscle requires more energy to sustain itself than fat tissue does.
In other words, increased muscle mass from weightlifting leads to increased fat loss over time. It’s not the actual act of strength training that uses a lot of energy, but rather the increased RMR that will lead to a leaner physique. Having a higher muscle mass increases our overall calorie burn every day, not just on training days.
For every pound of muscle you gain, you burn an extra 50 calories per day. Simply put, muscle helps you burn fat over time.
Check out this RMR calculator online.
Reduced risk of diabetes and heart disease
You are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes if you are not physically active and are overweight or have obesity. Extra weight sometimes causes insulin resistance and is common in people with type 2 diabetes.
In addition, more than 60 million women in the United States are living with some form of heart disease, and heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in the United States and can affect women at any age.
But strength training can improve insulin sensitivity, increase metabolic efficiency and rescue inflammatory markers in the body. In addition, women who engage in regular weightlifting may see about a 17 percent reduction in cardiovascular disease risk (and sometimes more than that, depending on the study).
Improve bone mineral density
Worldwide, one in three women over the age of 50 years and one in five men will experience osteoporotic fractures in their lifetime. Osteoporosis causes bones to become brittle and fragile from loss of tissue.
Bone, just like muscle and fat, is a dynamic tissue, which is constantly being broken down by the body and replaced. Strength training is a great way to incur the right amount of stress on bone tissue to help in increasing bone formation–and increasing bone density overall.
Weightlifting may be surrounded by myths for women, but it is critical to include it in any effective fitness routine. It strengthens your muscles, bones, metabolic systems, and psychological well-being, as well as helps you achieve your fitness goals.
Kaia FIT is a women’s fitness and nutrition program that empowers women to become the best version of themselves through personalized coaching in a group environment. We prioritize community to help connect women to each other for additional support and accountability. Caren Roblin is the owner of Kaia FIT Sierra, with four studio locations in Reno-Sparks.