Why resistance training is the key to burning calories
One of the common misconceptions is that weight training (also known as resistance training) is about bulking up, bodybuilding, or lifting competitively. Many women worry about lifting weights as part of their training regime, with the fear that they will end up looking like a feminine version of the Incredible Hulk. According to statistics, only 21% of females strength train more than once a week.
It is actually a fact that resistance training in your routine will shift those unwanted pounds much quicker than pounding for hours on end on a treadmill. In addition, the maintenance and growth of lean muscle gives your body the definition you desire.
Don’t believe me? Tommy Yule, a former Olympian and now Performance Director at British Weight Lifting recently quoted in REP magazine, “There are many myths that surround lifting weights…it actually forms a key part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle.”
Let’s take a look at some of the key reasons why resistance training should form part of your weekly training plan.
Lifting helps you lose weight
You may be aware that your body continues to use calories after a workout, whether that be aerobic exercise (running, cross-trainer etc….), or a session with high resistance (lifting heavy weights). The body uses oxygen to help recovery which burns calories, however your body works harder after a resistance session as it is repairing muscle protein. For this reason, lifting is more effective for weight loss than running.
Lifting burns more calories
Thinking of the previous statement, where your body is repairing muscle protein. Therefore, if you have more muscle to repair, it stands to reason that this will burn more calories. Your body burns calories with every contraction of a muscle, from blinking your eyes, to walking, to lifting. Gaining more lean muscle will make your body work harder and burn more calories. Studies suggest replacing fat with the same amount of muscle will burn up to an additional 50 calories a day without making any other changes.
Lifting helps tone your body
Losing those wobbly bits is great, but pointless if you haven’t got some nice, firm, lean muscle underneath. For a nice toned physique, you need tight, defined muscles. Worried that you’ll gain huge muscle? Don’t be, the principle hormone in muscle growth is testosterone, and you’re probably already aware that women have far less of this than men!
Also remember that muscles are denser than fat, so the weight in muscle takes up less room than the equivalent in fat, so even if the scales are showing no change, the mirror definitely will be.
Lifting improves your health
We’ve discussed the weight loss and improvement in fitness, but there are other health benefits to resistance training for women. Did you know that as women approach menopause, there is increased risk of osteoporosis which is the loss of bone mass? This makes the bones more fragile which can lead to fractures or broken bones. Regular resistance training exercise improves bone density, thus decreasing the risk, (plus of course plenty of calcium and Vitamin D in your diet).
Studies have also suggested that those who lift weights regularly have a reduced risk of diabetes, depression, back pain and show improvements in heart health, balance and mental health.
All sounds good right? However, before you rush out and start lifting heavy, it’s also important to learn how to lift correctly and get your form correct, as there are definitely no health benefits to injury! Practice using just your body weight, and seek advice from an expert or find a gym buddy to help. Get your confidence up, and get lifting!