Girl Power

At your local gym, down the hall from the cycling studio and a few steps from the treadmills, is a place many women have heard of but never ventured.

The weight room.

Fit614_Melanie_01.22.15_RM0079Women have been avoiding this place for decades, instead choosing the comfort of cardio equipment, out of fear they will end up looking like Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Ladies, enough is enough.

Not only is the notion ridiculous that lifting weights will make you “bulky,” it’s an out-of-date mindset keeping too many women from reaping the benefits of strength training.

If your goal is to lose body-fat, look toned and be a smaller, tighter version of yourself, the answer is in the weight room.

Did you know if you are over the age of 30, you’re already losing a little muscle mass each year? Resistance training is the best way to prevent it. In addition, increasing muscle mass helps you lose weight. The more muscle mass you have, generally, the faster your metabolism operates. This means your body is burning more calories even at rest. Using more calories means burning more body fat!

(While we’re on the subject of fat-burning, studies show strength training combined with cardiovascular exercise is more effective at burning fat than cardio alone. So by all means, keep your long runs, but be sure you’re pumping some iron in between!)

Studies show strength training combined with cardiovascular exercise is more effective at burning fat than cardio alone. So by all means, keep your long runs, but be sure you’re pumping some iron in between!

Muscle mass isn’t the only thing that diminishes as we age, bone density does as well. This puts women at risk for osteoporosis, which can lead to things like broken bones and fractures. Strength training helps make our bones stronger, and it prevents naturally occurring bone loss. If you lift weights now, you’re less likely to break a hip due to a fall when you’re 80.

Should you fall down, you’re going to want to be able to push yourself back up. Pushups build the strength to lift and lower your own body weight. Throw a few weighted squats and dumbbell shoulder presses in there, and you have a great, functional strength-training routine!

Fit614_Melanie_01.22.15_RM0261

Many women worry about getting too big from lifting weights. They fear they will end up looking like a bodybuilder. The truth is it’s extremely difficult to build that kind of muscle mass, and it takes a long time. Women simply don’t have the necessary testosterone in our bodies naturally to grow that much muscle. Unless you’re taking steroids or specifically eating and training to get huge, it’s not going to happen from lifting weights a few times a week.

Instead, you will gain confidence and strength. Don’t be afraid to be the girl who can lift more than the guys. It feels good to know you can take care of yourself and don’t have to ask for help. (Not to mention being more confident in your ability to defend yourself physically if needed.)

There’s no doubt the weight room can be an intimidating place. There are these big, grunting men everywhere, and you’re afraid of looking silly or attracting unwanted attention. However, thats no excuse for denying yourself the many benefits strength training provides.

Give yourself a pep talk, let go of your fear and get in there. Once you have a few lifting sessions under your belt, you’ll feel a lot more confident and you’ll realize those muscle-head guys aren’t even paying much attention anyway.

Start with two to three days a week of strength training combined with a few days a week of cardiovascular exercise. If you prefer not to go on your own, find a qualified trainer who can get you started on a program.

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