The benefits of weight training far outweigh the benefits of cardio and it's a shame that many women feel intimidated by the thought of lifting weights, or worry that it will make them bulky.
Strength training should be a staple part of any training programme in order to build a shapely, toned and strong body.
Here are our top eight reasons why weight training beats slaving away on the cross trainer or stationary bike, hands down!
1. Increased fat-burning when combined with conditioning (high-intensity interval training)
Having an exercise programme that relies solely on long, slow cardio for fat-loss will eventually slow down your metabolic rate and it will continue to drop as your body adapts to the demand you put on it.
Therefore, it is important to incorporate strength training while keeping cardio at a high-intensity to retain muscle mass and keep the body metabolically active.
Essentially, you get more fat-burning from your training while using weights and short bursts of high-intensity cardio conditioning.
2. Increased calorie output
Intense weight training actually boosts your metabolic rate throughout the day, which in turn makes you more efficient at burning body-fat at rest.
Without getting too technical, resistance training increases the amount of mitochondria in your cells; this in turn will help you will burn more calories at rest. Mitochondria are the cells' powerhouses and having more will make you more efficient while exercising.
After a resistance training session your metabolism can stay elevated for up to 24 hours.
When in doubt, pick up a barbell instead of hitting the treadmill… you’ll likely burn more calories in the end.
3. Shapes your curves
Most females feel that the best way to shape their body and achieve a more 'toned' look is by spending hours doing low-intensity cardio.
The reality is that the best way to 'bring out your curves' is to build strength and muscle. If all you do is constantly endure long bouts of low/moderate intensity cardio, then you are basically lowering your metabolic rate while losing muscle mass. In the end, you will have lowered your bodyweight but increased your body-fat percentage.
Don’t give in to the idea that you need to be a 'cardio bunny' in order to be lean and toned.
The more weight training you incorporate, the more shapely your body will be, and the fact that you will also be stronger will empower you.
4. More energy throughout the day
Weight training greatly improves your psychological well-being and enhances your sense of vitality throughout your daily life.
It’s not uncommon to feel completely wiped out and lifeless after spending hours on the treadmill; lifting, on the other hand actually boosts 'feel-good' chemicals in the brain.
In fact, studies show that heavy weight exercise greatly increases plasma beta-endorphin concentration, which in turn modulates mood in a positive manner. In other words, weight lifting scientifically proven to help with your mood!
If you find yourself stressed out, don’t hesitate to rip a heavy deadlift off the floor… lifting can be very therapeutic.
5. Improves mental health
Many females get lost in the gym because they find themselves depressed with the way they look and end up doing tonnes of cardio to fix the issue.
Instead, these women would be much better off learning compound movements - such as barbell squats and deadlifts - and letting out some of their worries in the squat rack. Along with the points above, strength training has been shown to greatly reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety in multiple studies.
Most females will find that lifting really does improve their body image and self-esteem. Fall in love with the process and the results will come.
The actual process of building your physique and strength is much like carving a sculpture. Enjoy every rep of your training and soon you will have your masterpiece.
6. Bone density improvement
Osteoporosis is becoming more and more common in females (both young and old), which can likely be attributed to physical inactivity and a lack of load-bearing exercises. Weight-bearing exercise, in particular 'loading', is important for the maintenance and improvement of bone health, whereas physical inactivity has been implicated in loss of bone density. In fact, low bone mass is a major risk factor for fractures in females and one of the most effective ways to reverse degeneration of bones is to consistently train with weights; studies suggest it is more effective than aerobic exercise.
The take-home point here is that if you want to keep your bones healthy and strong, choose the weights over the treadmill… you’ll thank yourself down the road.
7. Better sleep quality
Females should aim for 6-8 hours of sleep per night, and they often fall short of this range due to things like stress and poor mood. Numerous studies have demonstrated that a sustained exercise programme incorporating high-intensity strength training can greatly improve sleep quality and the duration of sleep. In fact, weight training provides an effective natural alternative to pharmaceutical interventions in patients with insomnia.
Don’t be afraid to pump some iron if you just can’t get to sleep at night, it will knock you out (literally).
8. Weight training with heavy resistance WILL NOT make females bulky; it will empower them!
One of the most annoying myths that I hear most days is the idea that females who train with relatively heavy weights will suddenly transform into the female equivalent of The Incredible Hulk. The reality is that females should train with heavy weights just like their male counterparts often do - and no it won’t make you 'bulky' and deepen your voice.
If a female really wanted to get 'bulky', they would have to eat like a machine and put in years of intense training just like any other person, regardless of their gender, would have to - nobody just blows up their muscle size by accident!
Summing it up
So there you have it, 8 of the top reasons females should stop fearing weights and give the cardio a break. Of course, it would be important not to mention that some conditioning is worthwhile in almost any female’s exercise routine, but strength training should be the focus; don’t worry, you won’t magically get 'bulky' overnight just because you start lifting more. You’ll just have more defined curves and a lean body… that’s not so bad, is it?
4 Weeks To Strong - Transformation programme
If you’re looking to improve your body composition and stay lean, check out our newest fitness challenge: 4 Weeks To Strong.
This programme has been designed to help eliminate the guesswork and offer you training and nutrition principles that have worked time and time again. It will help you develop as a lifter and you'll gain an insight into the underlying principles behind WHY things work and how to go about them in the most effective manner.
We don't muck around with long slow cardio, we do things hard and fast because we know you're busy and want bang for your buck.
If you are looking for a push in the right direction and want to try a different approach to your training, join our supportive online group with all of the tools to transform your body into a stronger, leaner, more-efficient version of your current self.
Our next programme kicks off on the 9th of September, so get in quick as this will sell out - only 30 spaces are available!