Cardio. Cardio. Cardio. It’s an integral part of most women’s exercise regimen. But despite the heavy-duty cardio, many women simply don’t see the results they were hoping for. Why not? Strength training may be what’s missing.

Negative attitudes about women in the weight room, along with the fear of bulking up, have created a gender gap in strength training. Contrary to popular belief, lifting weights and strength training won’t make you look bulky because bulking up requires testosterone. Strength training, when done with correct form and frequency, can truly help you feel and look your best.

Here are a few benefits of strength training for women:

Overall Toning

Cardio will improve your heart health and overall stamina, but strength training will enhance your muscle tone and definition.

Lose Fat and Gain Muscle

Weight training research shows that the average woman who strength trains two to three times a week for eight weeks gains 1.75 pounds of lean weight or muscle and loses 3.5 pounds of fat. And, adding muscle increases your resting metabolism, so you’ll burn more calories throughout the day!

Enhance Bone and Joint Health

Strength training is a powerful tool against osteoporosis, as it helps build bone mineral density. Research has found that weight training can increase spinal bone mineral density by 13 percent in six months. Women who strength train often experience less pain in their joints, less bone loss, and decreased lower back pain.

Lower Risk of Disease

Strength training, combined with cardiovascular exercise, helps improve cholesterol levels and blood pressure, which can lead to heart disease. In addition, weight training can increase glucose utilization in the body by 23 percent in four months and lower the risk of adult-onset diabetes.

Become a Better Athlete

If you want to run faster, hit the tennis ball harder, or crush your cardio workout, lifting weights will help. Stronger muscles will enhance your athletic abilities across the board.

Build Confidence

Strength training doesn’t just build stronger muscles, it builds confidence! You’ll feel better about your body, both in how it looks and how it performs.

Reduce Risk of Injury

When done correctly, strength training reduces the chance of injury every time you work out. As you lift weights, you strengthen your muscles and bones, which means you’ll be less likely to injure yourself during your daily sweat session.

Improve your Mental Health

Exercise improves your mood, increases mental sharpness, and reduces anxiety.  A Harvard study found that 10 weeks of strength training reduced clinical depression symptoms more successfully than standard counseling.

So, pull out those weights and start enjoying the many benefits of strength training. Not only will you trim and tone your body, but you’ll feel happier and more confident!


Authored by Zach Meeker, Research Assistant for Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush University Medical Center

References:

Westcott, W. PhD, Resistance Training is Medicine: Effects of Strength Training on Health. Current Sports Medicine Reports. Current Sports Medicine Reports: July/August 2012 – Volume 11 – Issue 4 – p 209-216: doi: 10.1249/JSR.0b013e31825dabb8

Nalin A. Singh, Karen M. Clements, Maria A. Fiatarone, A Randomized Controlled Trial of Progressive Resistance Training in Depressed Elders, The Journals of Gerontology: Series A, Volume 52A, Issue 1, January 1997, Pages M27–M35, https://doi.org/10.1093/gerona/52A.1.M27

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