I often see women at the gym, or hear from them on forums, that are working so hard yet aren’t seeing the results they think they should.  They do hours of cardio and eat properly but the body they want just isn’t taking shape.  The problem is they are missing a vital part of the equation that women are often reluctant to include in their health and fitness routine.

Women and Weightlifting
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image by Usodesita

Ladies, you are going to have to start lifting weights if you want to achieve a lean body, lose weight and keep the weight off. Before you start with the “I don’t want to get bulky and look like a guy” excuse, I want you to go to the About page and click on my name. Look at my photo. Do I look bulky to you?  I have been lifting consistently for over 10 years and bulky is probably one of the last words anyone would use to describe me.  So put that myth aside and start looking at facts.

Lifting weights, or really any sort of resistance training, is the key to maintaining a lean, shapely look and a healthy weight.  Cardio is great to burn fat and keep your heart healthy but you have to work the muscles to maintain your everyday metabolism and create the lean and toned look.

Here is a basic truth. Every decade, on average, we lose 6 lbs of muscle mass due to the natural aging process. This translates to a roughly 3% reduction in resting metabolic rate.  In everyday terms, when I lose muscle I need fewer calories to maintain my basic body functions and activities. So even if I don’t increase my calorie intake, I will gain weight because my body needs less fuel.

Now that we have that somewhat depressing fact out of the way, let me give you the good news. You can avoid this muscle loss by doing basic weight lifting. It doesn’t have to be fancy and you don’t have to spend hours in the gym (unless you want to).  Several studies over the years have concluded that a full body resistance program performed 2-3 times per week provides significant benefits that include increased muscle mass and increased fat burn.

For example, an often cited study in 1994 at Tufts University by Dr. Campbell and his colleagues showed an increase to resting metabolic rate of 7% after a 12 week 3 times per week strength training program.  Again, translating into everyday terms, for someone who needs 1500 calories a day at rest you would now need an additional 105 calories per day.  Let me say it again-105 additional calories burned at rest every day! So now instead of packing on pounds eating the same calories because you’re losing muscle, now you gain muscle and get a few extra calories each day and still maintain your weight.

When you are trying to lose fat, you want all the help you can get. Resistance training is that additional help. If you cut calories slightly, increase your activity and build muscle to create an additional calorie burn you are on the road to success!

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