Ladies, if you want to lose weight, skip the cardio and consider strength training. Contrary to popular belief, lifting weights doesn’t bulk you up, but it can tone and shape your body for the better. This is why many women are starting to pick up some dumbbells to achieve a better physique and improve overall health.
When women ask me about the metabolic benefits of strength training, here is what I tell them:
1. Helps you lose fat
Although you might think that aerobic exercise is the best way to shed fat, building muscles is actually a better alternative. The more muscle mass you have, the more calories you burn at rest. According to a 2014 study, weight training can help you lose fat while conserving lean mass and normal metabolic rate.
In another study published by the British Journal of Sports Medicine, results show that the pre-menopausal women who lifted weights thrice weekly had a remarkable reduction in body fat and cholesterol. What’s amazing is that their body mass was still the same. This study strongly suggests that resistance training offers a positive impact on lipid profile and body fat in women.
2. Increases resting metabolic rate
Another benefit of strength training is increased metabolic rate. This is very helpful if you’re a middle-aged woman because you can overcome the metabolic slump that mostly happens at this stage in life. With a faster metabolism rate, you burn more calories and reduce fat more quickly.
Resting metabolic rate (RMR) refers to a number of calories you consume at rest. The higher the number, the more potential you have in burning fat. However, our RMR declines with age, more likely due to a decrease in fat-free mass (FFM).
A 1985 study in men confirms that strength-training regimen is capable of increasing RMR by increasing FFM. Strength training is potent due to the high intensity related to this exercise.
3. Enhances insulin sensitivity
One of the most significant bodily processes for building muscles and improving overall health is the control of blood sugar.
The pancreas controls the blood sugar by secreting insulin whenever a specific load of sugar is recognized in the blood. Once the insulin is discharged, it prompts the absorption of sugar into fat cells and muscles.
Insulin sensitivity refers to how much insulin is required for glucose storage within the body cells. A higher insulin sensitivity allows you to convert carbohydrates for energy rather than store them as fats in the adipose tissue.
Although heavy cardio may burn more calories, more body fat is more likely to be stored due to an increase of a steroid hormone, cortisol. Hence, the better way to remove carbohydrates in the body is to do strength training to use them to your benefit.
4. Reduces bad cholesterol
Heart disease is one of the main causes of mortality for women every year. According to the American Heart Association, high blood pressure can cause atherosclerosis, a condition where the coronary arteries become narrowed due to a buildup of cholesterol and fat.
If you want to minimize your blood cholesterol and blood pressure levels, try strength training. Weight training can reduce bad cholesterol by decreasing body fat and increasing lean body mass. This is shown in a 1987 study where 25 men who took the 8-week training program had a notable decrease in bad cholesterol (LDL) levels as well as an increase in good cholesterol (HDL).
Another study showed that endurance training can cause a reduction in systolic and diastolic blood pressure. Lifting weights also improve the function of arteries and reduce inflammation.
Together with lower blood pressure, less cholesterol, and less inflammation, the risk of heart disease reduces by at least 14%.
5. Increases bone density
Bone strength is closely tied to freedom, as bone fractures are the main reason for women’s admission to nursing homes. Post-menopausal women are more prone to osteoporosis, a medical condition where bones become weak. To prevent osteoporosis, strength training is advised.
A 2009 study argues that muscle and bone are strongly related. Therefore, if you aim to increase bone strength and density, start by enhancing muscle power and force. One of the best exercises that you can do to increase bone density is weight training where lean muscles are formed and body fats diminished.
Former elite athletes who do weight lifting as part of their exercise regimen have stronger bones as they get old. This means 20% lower risk of fracture in women.
To increase bone density, consider training in the strength and hypertrophy ranges, such as lifting maximal loads and wearing a weight vest.
6. Minimizes triglycerides
If you don’t know yet, triglycerides are fats that move in the blood from the food we consume. The surplus of sugar, alcohol, or calories in the body is formed into triglycerides and kept in fat cells all over the body.
Several studies have shown a direct link between high triglycerides and heart disease. Strength training can help lower triglycerides by burning calories. As you burn calories, you lose weight, which in turn results to lower triglycerides.
In one study, notable reductions in triglycerides are shown after resistance training are incorporated into circuit training.
For many years, women avoided strength training because they thought it would bulk them up. Recent research, however, demonstrates that strength training offers multiple metabolic benefits that are important for women. Further, with modern approaches to strength training tailored for women, such as what’s shown in the video above, women can accrue those benefits while attaining a pleasing effect on the shape of their bodies. With regular strength training, you can lose fat, build more lean muscles, and increase your metabolic rate.
If you want to lose weight and build more toned muscles, then strength training is a great option. Let us know what you think about this article in the comments section below.