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Why Women Need to Weight Train
Part 2 - Weight Training Benefits
by Janiss Garza

In part 1 of this 2-part series, myths about weight training were soundly debunked. But just exposing the lies that many women believe about weight training won't explain why this form of exercise is so necessary for females. That will be addressed here, because there is no doubt that strength training is at least as important for women as it is for men.

(Article continued below.)

But before we get into the benefits of weight training, let's discuss one more thing that weight training isn't: it's not a bunch of guys in the heavy area of the free weight room, lifting hundred-pound dumbbells amidst much grunting and screaming. That falls under the category of "guys trying to prove something." That has little or nothing to do with building and maintaining health for a lifetime. And it's the health factor that makes weight training so indispensable.

There are so many benefits to weight training on so many different levels. When people talk about "mind-body-spirit" exercise, they are usually referring to a practice like Yoga or Pilates. But weight training, done properly, is just as much of a mind-body-spirit enhancer. Here's a short list of what weight training will do for women:

  1. Weight training is actually more effective at burning fat than cardio exercise.

    The math may seem confusing at first, because you burn more calories per hour of cardio than you do weight training. But we're not just talking about bouts of activity — we're talking about the long term. Weight training builds lean muscle mass, which is denser and burns more calories than fat mass. So the more muscle mass you have, the more calories, and more fat, you will burn every minute of every day. That half hour or hour of cardio will only burn calories while you're doing it. True, you may get some "after burn" — residual calorie burning — for a while after you're done, but when you weight train, that extra muscle mass even burns fat while you're sleeping! Who could ask for more?

  2. Weight training keeps your bones healthy.

    When you lift weights, your active muscles, ligaments and tendons are pulling on your bones and that stress makes them stronger. Because women are more prone to osteopenia and osteoporosis, this is especially important. Not only does weight training keep your bones in good shape, studies have shown that it can actually help rebuild lost bone mass. This is one of the reasons why it's especially important for women over 40 to lift weights.

  3. Weight training creates true functional fitness.

    Wouldn't you love it if those heavy grocery bags didn't feel so heavy? How about if it were easier to lug around pottery, plants and dirt when you're gardening? What if taking a box of books to Goodwill or walking up several flights of stairs were no longer such a huge effort? Weight training can make all that possible. When it comes to many daily activities, women don't have to be the weaker sex. Build up your strength through weight training and a lot of chores become so much easier!

  4. Weight training helps prevent injury.

    Regular workouts with weights will not only make you stronger, they will also improve your posture and alignment. Stronger legs and ankles will improve your balance. Regular weight training creates heightened body awareness. All of this adds up to a body that is a lot less likely to suffer from injury. Train your core properly and there's a good chance those nagging back pains will go away too.

  5. You will look a whole lot better.

    Are you afraid of developing those floppy upper arms when you get older? Or, horrors, are they already jiggling a bit? Weight training will firm them right up. While you won't get those bulging Schwarzenegger biceps by training with the 3–12 pound weights most women will probably use (and who wants huge muscles anyway?), you will build a sculpted, toned physique. Your shoulders will be nicely shaped, your belly will flatten, and your rear end will lift. Your legs will be firmer and even your chest will look better. Need we go on, or are you already convinced that just from the perspective of appearance, weight training can't be beat?

  6. You will stay fit into middle and old age.

    Around the age of 35, women start losing about a half pound of muscle mass a year, which adds up to less tone, less strength and a higher body fat percentage. None of this sounds attractive, and it isn't. But it's a downward spiral that can be stopped or reversed with weight training. In fact, it's possible for 40-year-old women to look even better than she did at the age of 25 if she picks up weights and continues to use them several times a week. And if this same woman keeps up her exercise program, she will be less likely to enter a nursing home in her senior years because she'll be stronger and more functional than her peers. She'll be the globetrotting, gray-haired lady while others her age can barely get up from their chairs. Picking up weights now — and continuing to pick them up — will determine the quality of your future.

  7. You'll feel empowered.

    Because weight training adds strength and makes you look better, it also boosts your confidence. You'll accomplish more in every aspect of your life because you know you can. And feeling confident is infectious — people around you will feel more self-assured too. Done properly, strength training also improves your focus. So as you can see, it really is also a mind and spirit enhancing activity.

These are just a few of many benefits you'll get from weight training. There are many more — lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, to name a few. Once you've been weight training for a while, you'll discover other benefits. There are so many great reasons to weight train, that it's foolish to keep avoiding it. All you need is 20 to 30 minutes of weight training, 2 to 3 times a week to start receiving the benefits listed above. So what are you waiting for? Pick up a pair of dumbbells or head for the gym's weight machines and get started!

Click here for Part 1 of this feature

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