For decades, fitness experts pushed aerobics and other soft exercises for women, and weightlifting for men. Even today, women often are afraid that squats will make them have huge thighs or shoulder exercises for women will give them boulders at the top of their arms, but none of this is true.
It’s hard work to get huge from lifting weights – it’s fairly difficult for most men. What weightlifting provides for everyone, however, is a host of positive health effects. No matter who you are, lifting weight and resistance training is critical to a healthy body.
Health benefits of weightlifting
Resistance training makes you stronger, that much is true and everyone can benefit from strength. Contrary to myth, the simple act of lifting weights will not make you have huge, bulging muscles unless you also eat in excess and truly overload your workouts.
Regular trips to the iron stations at your gym, however, provide a huge amount of physical and mental health benefits, including:
- Increased metabolism – muscle requires more energy to maintain, and so more muscle means a higher resting metabolic rate.
- Improved cardiovascular health – weight lifting requires controlled breathing that can lower blood pressure and strengthen certain key valves in the heart, reducing your chances of heart attacks or strokes.
- Weight loss – people who regularly lift weights benefit in multiple ways regarding weight loss. For one, the simple act of exercise burns calories and increases metabolism, and the habit of exercise often imparts secondary health awareness, meaning you’ll eat better and get more sleep.
- Helping to reduce the impact of diabetes and control blood sugar. Type 2 diabetes is a disease that manifests from insulin resistance, meaning your cells start to ignore insulin when it tries to bring them glucose. This causes too much blood sugar to circulate and damage the various organ systems in the body. Weight lifting makes your cells more insulin sensitive, improving blood glucose, and overall health.
The best weightlifting exercises for women
These are the must-do, must-have workouts for women. They should be done at least 3 times a week, with increased weight when possible. Grab a notebook and record each week and see how your health improves.
- Squats – the single most impactful, powerful exercise anyone can do, squats hit the largest muscle group in the body, the quads.
- Bench press – while there are most focused shoulder workouts for women, the bench press improves arm and shoulder strength and tone in one simple movement.
- Rows – the last foundational exercise, rows improve posture and strengthen your back and biceps.
Don’t skip the weight room
Lifting weights is one of the most fundamental exercise routines you can engage in, regardless of gender. The health benefits are monumental, it’s more fun than hour-long stretches of cardio, and all the reasons you were told not to lift weights as a woman are pure myths.
Take a deep breath and head into the weight room the next time you have the chance; you’ll be surprised at how great it feels.