Doing cardio is not the solution to increased fat loss. Yes, you read that right. For many years, cardio was the go-to advice for women seeking greater fat loss. Run longer. Walk further. Spend more time on the elliptical. Go to more aerobic classes. What was eliminated, though, was increasing strength and building muscle.
This is not to say that cardio is not important. It is! Yet, strength training and development is just as important. In the past, it was often thought that weight lifting would result in them bulking up like a linebacker. Women worried about looking too manly. Most women today have a much better understanding of the benefits of strength training. Let’s look at some of those benefits here, as well as some important tips to consider when starting (or continuing) your strength training routine.
As obvious as this sounds, you will get stronger; but I am not just referring to specific muscle groups. It is important as you age that your body is strong, from the inside out. Strength training does help tone and strengthen individual muscle groups, like your arms, legs and abs; but it also helps increase bone strength which improves bone density, and increase the strength of connective tissues.
Increased Fat Loss
When you talk about wanting to lose weight, what you are really referring to is losing fat. Burning fat is what losing weight is all about—or should be, at least. Everyone has fat. In fact, we need fat for survival. As many do today, we have too much fat causing obesity, or just those extra few pounds we want to lose.
While we are on the topic of weight, we should discuss the common belief that muscle weighs more than fat. Technically, this is not true. A pound of fat weights one pound, just like a pound of muscle weights—you guessed it—one pound. Muscle is denser than fat by around 18%, which means that one pound of muscle will take up less space than one pound of fat. This is why significant weight loss may go unnoticed somewhat when starting up a strength training program; but you will lose fat and enjoy smaller sizes as your body tones up.
Burn More Calories at Rest
Another benefit of strength training is an increased metabolism. By building lean muscle, your body’s metabolism will increase which, in turn, helps you burn more calories. It is for this reason that a woman who has more muscle will burn calories at a higher rate, even when “at rest” (meaning, not working out). You will soon be burning more calories than before, just while standing or sitting, for example.
A New Shape
Everyone’s shape is different, and there is no single definition of beauty. One thing we know, though, is that a healthy body is beautiful regardless of its size or shape. As you build lean muscle, your body will not only tone up but also begin to form a new shape with new curves.
Better Sleep and Increased Energy
I combined both of these benefits into one since they correlate to each other. Strength training has been shown to improve a woman’s quality of sleep. You will find that the quality of your sleep improves and that you will sleep longer, especially after a night of weight lifting.
Strength and resistance training may also help increase energy levels. This is not only because you should be experiencing better sleep, but also because it increased your metabolic rate. Keep in mind that post-workout energy level does vary by person; but many do report an initial energy burst following their workout.
Strength Training Tips and Strategies
- Watch your Form. Be sure you are lifting the weight in a straight line as opposed to a curve, or uneven lift with one side higher than the other.
- Go heavier! Do not be afraid to lift heavier weights. This is important for building muscle and burning fat.
- Let Your Body Recover. Do not over-train your body. It needs time to rest between intense strength training workouts. Not letting your body recover from a workout can lead to injury and, in the long-run, set you back further.