When it comes to weight loss, most people are aware of the benefits of cardio and diet for reaching their goals. Many people, especially women, seem to neglect adding strength training to their regimens.
When I talk to women about strength training and weight loss, the most common thing I hear is, “I just want to tone/lose weight, I don’t want to get bulky”. Although this is a very common thought among women, it really is just a myth.
Fears of Bulking Up are Overblown
Many women have seen pictures of professional female bodybuilders, and get the idea that if they start lifting weights that they are going to have bulging biceps, and this just isn’t true.
Testosterone is the main hormone responsible for increased muscle mass, and women just don’t have the testosterone levels to “get bulky” without the use of drugs, steroids, and an intense supplementation program. In addition to that, it takes these women years of intense training to get where they are.
When I first started my weight loss journey, I was concerned about how strength training would change my body. I wanted to be strong, but I didn’t want to appear masculine. After doing some research, I learned how beneficial strength training was.
In the past year, I have really gotten in to strength training and lifting weights. I have put most of my focus on gaining muscle with the hopes of competing in a figure competition, and I have discovered how difficult gaining muscle mass really is.
I now lift the heaviest weights I can five days a week, and am on a supplement program that is specifically designed to help me build muscle. The progress is slow, and I often wish that it was as easy as I used to think it would be.
Even if you aren’t ready to start curling thirty pound dumbbells, adding strength training to your program will be extremely beneficial for your weight loss as well as your general health.
Why You Should Strength Train
The first reason that strength training should be added is because strength training has been shown to elevate your metabolism for up to 38 hours after you are done. That means that even after you stop strength training, you are still burning calories.
However, with cardio, the increased calorie burn practically stops as soon as you are done with the exercise. Additionally, the more lean muscle mass you have, the higher your metabolism is – even when you’re not being active. In a day, one pound of muscle burns approximately 5.67 calories, whereas a pound of fat only burns approximately 1.98 .
Another reason that strength training is important is because when you get on the scale and see that you have lost 2 pounds, that doesn’t mean it is all fat. Some may be fat, but you can also be losing muscle.
Seeing as most people’s goals are fat loss, adding some kind of strength training will help you to retain more muscle. In addition to that, adding strength training can help with bone health, decreasing the risk of osteoporosis, and improve one’s mood .
Overall, strength training has many benefits and can yield better results than diet and cardio alone. If you still hesitate to strength train because you don’t feel like you know what you are doing, schedule an appointment with a personal trainer. They will show you the equipment, how to set it up, how to use it, and how to properly perform exercises.
If that isn’t an option, you can do research online. Research strength training exercises for beginners or read a fitness magazine. Lastly, understand that people at the gym aren’t making fun of you just because you are starting out, because we were all there once.