Weight-training is acknowledged by the medical fraternity as a great form of exercise to reduce fat, build muscle and maintain overall health. Further, it increases strength and stamina, improves bone density, reduces the risk of fractures, diabetes and high blood pressure. Finally, it gives a lean, strong and toned look to the body.
Though in the last couple of decades, more and more women have been turning to weight-training, awareness about its health benefits is generally low. Further, there are a whole lot of myths around women and weight-training which are keeping women away from the gym. It’s high time these myths were busted.
Cardio Alone Is Enough: The most common excuse to stay away from weight-lifting is that cardiovascular exercises are enough to look toned. While cardiovascular exercises are great in general, you need to spend a lot of time and effort on the same, if losing weight is your priority. In contrast, weight-training helps improve your muscle mass which translates into more calories burned. This means increased metabolism, which in turn helps you lose weight more easily than a pure-cardio workout. Depending on what your fitness goals are, you need to have the right blend of cardio and weight-training in your regimen.
I Will Become Bulky: This is the second most common excuse to avoid weight-lifting. Images of bulky and muscled women have created a false notion that spending a lot of time in the gym can make women look like a female version of The Hulk. This is completely false. Female bodies produce only 10% of the testosterone produced by male bodies. Testosterone is a hormone that regulates various aspects of our health, one of which is the quantum of muscle mass. This means, for the same level of weight-training, it’s easier for a man to bulk up than it is for a woman. This is the general thumb-rule although there can be exceptions.
I Can Use This to Reduce Fat in Specific Areas: Many women complain of fat in the tummy, thighs or hips and look at weight-training as a solution. However, weight-training is not the same as liposuction or any other surgical procedure to remove localized fat. As explained before, weight-training increases metabolism and muscle-mass, both of which help you burn more calories. This reduces fat all over the body, including your trouble spots. Make weight-training an integral part of your life, then the fat will never return. This, plus the toned look will make you feel good about your body.
One Size Fits All: It’s common for women to look at their friends, co-workers or family members who have lost weight through weight-training and be inspired to do the same. They may even want to replicate or imitate the other person’s workout. But you need to know that when it comes to weight-training, no two people are alike. Genes play a big role here. Your body type, race, history of fitness and weight–training, history of ailments and diseases, diet and nutrition, profession and lifestyle can all be different from the other person. Blindly replicating or imitating your friend’s workout may not produce the same results.
The Heavier I Lift, the Better: Not necessarily. Different exercises address different muscle-groups, so you should be clear about your goals. Further, depending on your present muscle mass and general health, the weight to be lifted and the number of repetitions to be done vary from one person to another. One should also be aware of the right technique and breathing pattern while lifting. If you are not aware of all these, you can hurt yourself by lifting heavy weights. This is where a fitness trainer comes in. He/she will factor all these in while designing your workout.
I Have Crossed the Age for This: Post-menopause, women’s bones tend to lose mass gradually. In some women, osteopenia and osteoporosis also set in. Such women are now at a higher risk of fatigue and fractures than other women. This makes them more cautious and hence they move away from heavy exercise or weight-training. But this is the wrong approach. Weight-training is precisely what such women need as it helps improve bone density, bone mass and bone strength. An experienced trainer will guide you and monitor your workout to reduce the risk of injury.
It’s clear from the above that weight-training has long-term health benefits for women. It can be pursued by women of all age-groups, of different fitness levels and with different fitness goals. Invest in a personal trainer who has the expertise and experience of working with women. He/she will take into account your goals and challenges while designing the perfect workout for you. Follow this closely and workout regularly. You will definitely be able to see the results; further, some of the benefits will last well into your old age.