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Weight Training for Women

The Truth about Women and Weight Training

Women Lifting WeightsMore and more women are experiencing the health promoting benefits of weight training. It's time to stop worrying about looking like Arnold's twin and discover how those dumbbells, barbells and benches can improve your health, posture and appearance while changing the overall shape of your body.

With all the myths and false misconceptions concerning weight training, it's no wonder women live in fear of muscle. Not only do you require perfect genes to build huge, defined muscles, but it's highly unlikely that weight lifting will give you Arnold's arms or Van Damme's legs without the help of muscle enhancing drugs, like steroids. Even some professional bodybuilders suffer from some sort of genetic imbalance and thus have to rely on these drugs to assist them in bulking up. "Women are not genetically built to get big, they have a very high level of estrogen in comparison to testosterone in their bodies, which makes it difficult for them to bulk up on muscle," says Mark Stent, founder of bodybuilder.co.za

According to research, a woman possesses about two-thirds the strength of a man, and when it comes to building muscles, the genetic makeup of the two species differs tremendously. Due to the higher levels of testosterone, men are able to build stronger, bigger muscles than women. On average, a woman has about one tenth of the testosterone that men possess, but it's still not enough to build bulk. So, even if you lift twice as much as your man, you will probably never have the same amount of muscle unless you are making use of steroids.

"When you flip through bodybuilding or fitness magazines, and you come across female bodybuilders who might resemble their masculine counterparts, remember that they partake in a completely different regimen from women who just workout to get, or to stay in shape," says well known personal trainer, Hilton Preen.

It is especially common for overweight women to believe that if they lift weights, they will end up looking double their size. Muscle does not create or build itself on top of fat, but instead replaces the fat with muscle mass. Fat composition takes up five times as much space as muscle, so by simply replacing fat mass with muscle mass, you will not only lose the wobble, but you will look leaner and slimmer too.

Fat weight doesn't require any energy to maintain, it just sits there making you look flabby. Weight training, however, increases the rate at which your body uses energy, forcing stored fat to breakdown into energy cells, which your body then uses to build muscles. "Muscle tone allows you to burn calories at all times during the day and night," says Preen. "For every pound of lean tissue or muscle you put on, you will burn approximately seventy five additional calories at rest. The less muscle you have, the more difficult it is to lose the fat," he says.

When you lift weights, you not only lose fat and tighten loose ends, but because you are working your muscles you will be changing the overall shape of your body. Increasing the width of your shoulders will make your waist appear smaller, while tightening your triceps will get rid of those embarrassing 'jiggle arms' and firming your glutes and hamstrings will decrease the appearance of saddlebags, thunder thighs and also mask the appearance of cellulite, by smoothing out that orange peel effect which we all hate so much.

Even if you are following a healthy diet and performing some sort of aerobic activity, you will not get the best possible results without strength training. Even though you may be losing weight, your body shape will remain the same. Some women, no matter how hard they train, never ever seem to look different. Sure they look smaller, but if they are on such strict diets and aerobic programs why do they still look like a pear? No matter how much weight you lose on your diet, there is no way you can change the shape of your body without using weights.

Muscle not only makes you look and feel healthier, but it also helps to "slow down the hands of time," says Preen. "Between the ages of twenty and seventy, due to the aging processes, you could lose more than twenty five percent of your muscle, a condition known as myoatrophy. Regular strength training can help prevent this. The optimal workout regimen should incorporate both weightlifting and aerobic activity," he says.

Weight training is the one activity that can benefit us all irrespective of age or gender, so next time you're at the gym hit the weights and see for yourself how weight training can help improve your appearance and decrease your health risk.

Top 10 reasons to take weight training seriously

1. It increases your metabolic rate: When you gain muscle, your body requires more energy to maintain that new muscle, which means you will burn more fat and store less energy as stubborn fat.

2. It improves your bones: Research has found that weight training can increase bone density by up to 13 percent in just six months. Strength training also helps fight osteoporosis, a disease commonly found in women.

3. It improves self-confidence: Women who weight train are more confident because they have a body that they are happy with.

4. It reduces stress: Studies have shown that lifting weights can help ease depression and fight anxiety. Because you are taking out all your frustrations in the gym, you are calmer and far more relaxed after a weight-training workout.

5. It makes you stronger: The stronger your muscles, the less likely you are to get hurt. Being stronger can also help you perform functional activities like re-decorating your home, carrying heavier shopping bags and playing with your kids.

6. It protects you: Being stronger can also help you to protect yourself in danger situations.

7. It improves your appearance: Not only does weight training make you look firmer, but it improves your posture which gives you a stronger self-esteem.

8. It increases brainpower: Weight training helps you clear your mind and allows you to think more rationally.

9. It decreases your risk of diabetes: Research indicates that weight training can increase glucose utilization in the body by twenty three percent in as little as four months.

10. It helps fight heart disease: Weight training improves your blood pressure, brings down sugar levels and lowers your cholesterol profile.


About The Author
Dimi Deliyiannis is the founder and editor of GetFIT.co.za, a free online magazine with information on training, diet and nutrition. She regularly writes articles for top South African magazines, including: Fitness, Muscle Evolution and Women's Value. Visit her website on www.getfit.co.za

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