Weight Lifting for Women
Whether you are a beginner just getting started with strength training or a woman that has been working out for some time, weight lifting for women is one of the best things you can do to build strength, lose weight and get the lean, tight defined body you have always wanted... better yet, weight training will help your results stick around longer. Still, many of the women that I speak with are worried that if they hit the weight room in the gym they are going to bulk up and prefer instead to do tons of cardio... well fear not! If you are trying to understand the implications of weight lifting for weight loss, things are about to get interesting.
Weight Lifting for Weight Loss... is it possible?
Let's start with the facts. A super interesting research study was done by the good people at Duke University along with the NHLBI Institute comparing cardiovascular exercise, weight training and a combination of both. In this study of 261 people, all of which were clinically overweight, were taken though an 8 month exercise program. There were not other changes made to their lifestyle... NO nutrition modifications, NO sleep changes, NO work changes. Participants were broken into 4 groups:
- The Weight Lifting Group: This group was complete 3 resistance training workouts each week. Each workout included 8 different strength training exercises with 3 sets each in the 8-12 rep range. They were given rest periods of 45 seconds between each set.
- The Cardio Group: This group completed aerobic exercise with a total of 2 hour of cardio per week at 75% of their max capacity.
- The Combo Group: This lucky group lifted weights AND did the cardio as above.
- The Control Group: You guessed it! This group did not add any type of exercise to their life.
With this study the researchers were looking for some of the major cardiometabolic risk factors like blood lipids, body composition, fat mass, lean body mass and insulin sensitivity.
Weight Lifting for Weight Loss... the Results!
So, who were the winners? Well, the results were pretty incredible. All three of the experimental groups improved with their blood lipids and lost weight, but statistically, the cardio & the combo groups lost the most weight during the study. But wait... we are talking about how to use weight training for weight loss, right?
Here is the kicker... the weight lifting group was more likely to keep off the weight they lost long term.
Cardio Only = Gaining Weight Back
It all comes down to metabolism and lean mass. Research varies a fair bit when it comes to determining how much a pound of muscle actually increases your metabolic rate and how many calories you for each extra pound of mucle, but everyone does agree that adding muscle definitely DOES increase your metabolic rate. At the end of the day when you are talking about weight training for women, lifting weights leads to muscle gain, which boosts metabolism, and stimulates weight-loss all day, every day.
Want leaner LEGS? Weight Lifting for Women is the Answer.
If you are looking for leaner and tighter legs then strength training is a must. One of the most intriguing studies I have seen to date explored the effects of weight lifting and cardio on men versus women. In this study 65 overweight subjects were placed on EITHER cardio OR strength training regiments for 12 weeks with no diet changes. The results were pretty incredible.
For both men and women, strength training and weigh lifting increased their fat free mass better than cardio. BUT it is where they lost fat that was the most interesting. For men, the reduced fat around their trunk and in their abdomen. But, weight training for women had a more significant impact on leg fat.
Women that only lifted weights lost more fat specifically in their legs than those that only performed cardio.
So, what are the specific benefits of weight training for women? What can you expect to happen if you are a beginner to strength training?
- Lose Bodyfat
Weight training builds lean muscle which increases your metabolism and causes you to burn more fat all day long.
- Get Strong without Bulking
Women naturally just do not have enough of the hormone testosterone to get super bulky. Instead, when a female begins weight training, they gain muscle definition and strength. Just check out the changes that Dana Taggart was able to make with weight training!
- Stop Osteoporosis
Strength training strengthens bones along with muscle.
- Reduce Injury Risk
Since weight training also strengthens connective tissues and joints, women that workout are less likely to suffer injury from daily tasks.
- Burn More Calories
With weight training, your metabolism is elevated and you burn more calories for up to 24 hours after your workout.
- Feel Better
Exercise in general and strength training in particular releases endorphins that improve your mood and fight depression. One of my favorite quotes... You are only one workout away from a good mood!
Want to know more? Check out the 10 Subtle Body Changes that Happen When You Start Lifting Weights
Best Weight Lifting for Women Exercises
Weight Lifting for Women: Barbell Thrusters
Barbell Thrusters are one of the full body strengthens exercises on the planet. I love that this functional movement is a combination of a full squat with an over head press engages legs, shoulder, arms and your core. I love Barbell Thrusters when we are looking at weight lifting for weight loss as it will certainly get your heart rate up as you are building muscle!
Julie's Tip: Start with an empty bar until you feel very comfortable with the form on this exercise.
Weight Lifting for Women: Incline Dumbbell Bench Press
While a lot of women avoid working their chest because those muscles just are not as visible, I love incline dumbbell bench press. You can do this movement with a barbell if you prefer, but I like using dumbbells because you have to use more stabilizing muscles to keep them together. Engage that core and push hard!
Weight Lifting for Women: Sumo Deadlift High Pull
Like barbell thrusters, the sumo deadlift high pull hits the legs and glutes hard but still incorporates upper body. This is one of the best weight lifting exercises that a woman can do for an overall tight fitbody.
Julie's Tip: Be sure to keep your chest lifted throughout the movement and keep your core engaged.
Weight Lifting for Women: Full Range Lateral Raise
The full range lateral raises are unique - most people stop at the regular lateral raise. I like to continue on overhead with this movement to really hit all three delt heads. With time you will notice that this movement gives you tighter biceps and triceps to reduce any tricep jiggle while rounding out your shoulders.
Real Women & Weight Training
Take Jennifer Harer. Jennifer started working with me in my Online Personal Training program several months ago. At the time she was quite thin and really considered herself more skinny fat than anything. She loved cardio, but was lacked strength and muscle definition. When it came to weight lifting, she was definitely a beginner, but getting toned arms, tight abs and round glutes were high on her priority list. She just felt super awkward in the gym.
"Stepping into a gym was very intimidating to me at first. I feared looking silly and not doing things correctly."
After a few months of adding in the right balance of cardio exercise and weight lifting with a great nutrition plan Jennifer was able to make some incredible changes to her body. Not just that though. She became seriously more confident with strength training.
“I feel so much healthier working out on a daily basis. Now I look forward to working out! When I take a day off from the gym, I feel sluggish. That motivates me to get in gear and workout almost every day.”
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