WEIGHT LIFTING 101 FOR WOMEN: WHY AND HOW
A recent research shows that only one fifth of women engage in weight lifting and the remaining 80 per cent spend most of their gym time on cardio machines. Perhaps this is because most women are unaware of the tremendous benefits that weight lifting offers them. As a form of exercise, it doesn’t just have the ability to help you lose weight, it also has the ability to help you transform your entire body, put you on the right track health wise, and do great things for your mental state of being.
The takeaway is that weight lifting is not exclusively for men. Women like you too have incredible benefits to enjoy from lifting weights and strength training.
Here are the reasons why women should lift weights
It helps you to burn calories: When you lift weights or engage in strength training, you burn fat and more calories faster than you would have if you were only doing cardio exercise. The benefits of exercising as it relates to fat and muscle loss cannot be fully realized except you include weight lifting in your weight loss plan, as your body remains in a fat burning mode long even after you have finished lifting the weights.
It revs up your metabolism: Lots of adverse things happens to our bodies as we get older and one of them is that our metabolism slows down. We gain weight and find it hard to lose the excess weight, due to the decreasing levels of mitochondria in the cells. One sure way to combat this is to lift weights, as there is a direct correlation between our metabolisms and our muscle masses. Strength training builds lean muscle mass, preventing age-related muscle loss and positively affecting the production mitochondria. Metabolism thus remains optimal.
It helps you get a toned and sleek body: Weight lifting helps women build lean muscle mass and the buildup of a lean muscle mass always makes women look fit and fabulous no matter the body shape.
It lessens the risk of injuries: When you lift weights, your muscles, ligaments, bones, and tendons all get intense work outs and get strengthened in the process. Also, the production of collagen is intensified and your bones become less fragile than those of someone who doesn’t lift weight. You are thus less prone to injuries. And when you do have injuries, they tend to heal faster.
It reduces the risk of muscle loss: Let’s face it; We all start losing muscle mass once we hit 30 years. This is why we are all confronted with loose skin in the tummy area, in the arms, shoulders, chest, chin and butt. One way to reduce the risk of muscle loss or halt its progression is to mix cardio training with weight lifting.
It boosts energy levels: Lifting weights makes a huge difference on how energetic you are throughout the day. This is because weight lifting awakens every one of your muscles and makes them work more effectively to utilize food as energy. This in turn makes you feel agile and light on your feet.
It improves your ability to participate in sports: To be able to participate in sports, you need to have muscle and bone strength, quick reflex muscle power, and endurance capacity. Weight lifting is a sure way to develop all these qualities that are required if you are to be good at any sports, no matter the nature of the sports.
It keeps your heart protected: Research has shown that you can improve your heart function and protect it by lifting weights. The research studied patients with coronary artery disease and found that their endurance, heart muscle strength and heart rate variability (HRV) improved with strength training.
It gives great posture: You can improve your body posture by lifting weights, as long as you follow the right steps in strength training. When you lift weights, you build both bone and muscle strength, and are able to stop slouching and bending.
It helps to relieve stress: Because exercising generally has a positive effect on mental health, lifting weights alleviates depression, lowers anxiety and helps relieve stress. Weight-training release endorphins into the bloodstream as neurotransmitters that help us fight depression, prevent pain and improve mood.
It enhances your flexibility: The repeated stretching and contracting motion that weight lifting requires improves the body’s ability to be flexible.
It decreases your susceptibility to osteoporosis: Weight training strengthens both muscles and bones and increases bone density, which cuts the risk of broken bones and fractures.
4 weight lifting exercises you can begin right now
Seated shoulder press: This targets the shoulders. Sitting upright on a workout bench, begin with dumbbells held straight up above your head. Then gently bend your elbows and lower the dumbbells until they fall in line with your shoulders. Without stopping, drive straight back up to the start position. Aim for 3 sets of 13-15 reps.
Hip thrust: This targets your glutes and you should aim for 3 sets of 15-20 reps, using a 20kg barbell and 5kg weights on each side. Sit with your back against a bench on the floor and roll barbell to the front of your hips. With your knees bent, and with your shoulders on the bench, drive your hips off the floor until your back is parallel. Gently lower your hips downwards, and then drive it back up again.
Single arm row: This is great for your biceps and back, helping to reduce back pain and improve posture. To do this, start with your right knee and right hand on a bench, while your left foot is stepped out wide and with a dumbbell hanging down in your left hand. Drive your left elbow up, lifting the dumbbell to your torso while your back stays in a neutral position, and with the left knee soft. Lower back to start. Aim for 2 sets of 8-10 reps on the left side with a 90 second rest, then alternate sides.
Deadlift: Place an Olympic bar on the floor and stand with your feet hip-width apart. Grip the bar with hands a little wider than your feet are. Driving with legs, stand up straight, with your shoulders back, and your arms straight down. Keep the bar close to your body as you return to the floor; while maintaining a flat back. Aim for 3 sets of 10-12 reps.