When people ask me what I do when I go to the gym I tell them that I mainly do weights. The response that I get from a lot of people is that they don't do weights because they're scared of getting 'big'. To this, I laugh.
Weight training will not make you 'big'. Whatever 'big' even is. (If you want to be big, go ahead and be big - who cares). The reality is that unless you are actively trying to build bulk – eg, lifting extremely heavy weights and eating thousands of calories every day, then it is difficult to put on significant size.
The biologically female body does not naturally produce anywhere near as much testosterone as the biologically male body. Testosterone is a hormone that plays a major role in muscle growth. Without much of this hormone it is very difficult to put on significant size. Weight training is, in fact, the best type of training that you can do for fat burning, fitness and overall health.
Weight training is an incredibly effective fat burner. Studies have shown that this type of training burns more calories than cardiovascular exercise. This is all thanks to after-burn. After-burn, also known as Post Exercise Oxygen Consumption, is the principle that the body continues to burn calories after the workout has ended.
After doing heavy strength training the body continues to use extra oxygen, even hours and days after the session. Where the body is using greater amounts of oxygen, more calories are burnt and the metabolic rate increases.
Going to the gym is most definitely not all about losing weight. It is about getting fitter and stronger. The benefits of weight training carry over to your overall fitness, which in turn improves performance in other sports.
Weight training creates stronger, thicker muscle fibers that improve the quality of the muscle. This is beneficial for muscular endurance. Balance, coordination and posture will improve. Furthermore, lifting weights can make you faster. This is because weight training works your ‘fast-twitch muscle fibres’. These are the muscle fibers that generate power. The stronger these are, the quicker you are off the block.
Weight training has also been proven to improve your overall health. Studies indicate that resistance and weight training improves the quality and length of sleep. Research has shown that blood pressure and resting heart rate are lowered the morning after weight training. Most significantly, weight training improves bone strength. Activities that put stress on bones push the bone-forming cells to produce more. This is especially important as you get older and your bones become more fragile. Because the body stops producing estrogen, premenopausal women are especially prone to osteoporosis. Weight training combats this, especially where it targets bones of the hips, spine and wrists - the areas at most risk of weakening and breaking.
For the Workout
Below is a full body workout. This is designed for those who are just starting out with weight training but have a medium level of fitness.
10 reps of each exercise, going through each sequence three times
- Shoulder Press
- Hammer Curls
- Renegade Row
- Dumbell front squat
- Dumbell deadlift
- Step ups (10 each leg)
- Wall Sit
- Weighted Burpees
- Squat and Press
- Russian twist
So ladies, don't be afraid to introduce weight and resistance training into your workout routine. You'll be better for it!