Ladies, skip the cardio bikes and pick up the dumbbells instead. Despite the belief that “you lift big, you get big,” women can get toned and in shape by doing some heavy lifting. In Picture Fit's video, “Should Women Lift Weights? Muscle Myth #1,” the short answer is yes, they should. There are plenty of benefits to it, too, from weight loss to alleviating back pain.
Study after study supports the benefits of strength training, but women are often worried about bulking up. While women can bulk up, it only happens in rare cases. "Women naturally have difficulty putting on muscle mass because of the lack of the muscle-building hormone, testosterone, when compared to men," the video says.
So what benefits can women reap from hitting the weight room two to three times a week?
Women looking to lose weight should start to lift weights. Weight lifting adds muscle and boosts the body's metabolic rate, which ends up burning more calories throughout the day. In a 2012 study, Miriam Nelson, nutrition researcher and director of the Center for Physical Fitness at Tufts University, put 10 overweight women on the same diet with half of them lifting heavy weights twice a week. Both groups lost 13 pounds, but while the diet-only group only lost 9.2 pounds of fat, the lifters lost 14.6 pounds of fat and gained 1.4 pounds of muscle.
Adding muscles helps to shape out the body giving it a more fit appearance, while cardio only makes your unfit body smaller. For example, if you have a plum-shaped body, cardio will only turn you into a smaller plum.
Aside from boosting your metabolism and weight loss, other benefits of lifting weights include increased mobility, preventing muscle loss, fixing posture, and alleviating back pain. A 2008 study found those who use weight training to ease their lower back pain are better off than those who choose other forms of exercise, such as jogging. The study showed a 60 percent improvement in pain and function levels for people with chronic backache who took part in a 16-week program with resistance straining.
There’s a catch, though: Women should lift heavy. Lifting 3 pound dumbbells isn't going to cut it; you need to lift strong to look strong.