The myth “women shouldn’t lift weights because they’ll get bulky” has been around for ages. It’s something that I hear about almost every day. A lot of women are scared to lift weights because they don’t want to put on large amounts of muscle mass. In reality, weightlifting for women is incredibly beneficial.
Some of benefits of weightlifting for women include:
- Weight loss
- Increased strength
- Reduced risk of osteoporosis related fractures
- Improved heart health
- Increased ease and ability to perform normal daily life activities
Let’s take a minute to debunk the “women will get bulky” myth. Building large muscle size is an intentional goal that a lot of weightlifters work hard to accomplish. Lifting weights will make you stronger, but not necessarily bulkier, unless that’s what you’re working towards. The combination of lifting weights and eating more calories than you’re burning a day is what contributes to building muscle size. And, on the other hand, when you are weightlifting and eating within a calorie deficit (consuming fewer calories than what you’re burning throughout the day), your muscles will get denser and stronger, while burning up extra calories. When you’re strength training, it temporarily breaks down your muscles. During the next 24-48 hours, your muscles are rebuilding themselves, which recruits calories for energy to do so. While this is happening, your resting metabolism is working at a higher rate than usual. So, to put it simply, muscle will burn more calories than fat, even when you’re at rest.
In addition to burning more calories, weightlifting can help decrease the risk of osteoporosis related fractures. Why is this important for women? Estrogen is an important bone-builder and post-menopausal women are put at a higher risk for developing osteoporosis because of the decrease of estrogen in their bodies. Scientists at Tufts University have been studying the correlation between weightlifting and bone mineral density over the past ten years. Their studies have shown a direct and positive relationship between the effects of weightlifting and bone mineral density. In addition to increasing bone density, there are many other benefits from weightlifting that help decrease the risk of osteoporosis related fractures. This decreased risk comes from increased strength, improved balance, decreased fall risk, improved connective tissue, and increased muscle mass.
There are many different benefits to weightlifting for women. It can be something as simple as doing some body weight squats and wall pushups throughout your day or coming into the gym and using the strength machines.
If you are wanting to start weightlifting, but are intimidated or don’t know where to start, no worries! Schedule an appointment at the Fitness Desk to work with a personal trainer to set you on the right path.