Why Women Should Ditch Cardio and Try Strength Training for Fat Loss

woman doing strength training smiling

Find out why strength training for women could be your ticket to achieving your fat loss and health goals with our myth busting article.

Speak to 90% of women in the gym and they’ll tell you they’re there for one thing – weight loss.

And we can guarantee that the majority of these women are spending their gym hours on the treadmill, and getting nowhere fast when it comes to achieving their goals.

That’s where strength training for women comes in.

Despite traditional thought, not only does this type of training make you stronger, it also comes with a whole host of other benefits, one of the main ones including fat loss.

Although it might go against traditional thought, you need to step off the treadmill and give the weights a go. Discover the truth about what strength training does to your body and the health benefits you can expect.

 

You’ll look masculine and bulky

woman about to do a deadlift

We’ve come to this first because we know it’s at the forefront of many women’s minds when they consider resistance work.

The common thought is: strength training for women results in huge muscles and a loss of the feminine features.

We’re here to tell you that you couldn’t be more wrong.

Women don’t create the amount of testosterone needed to develop high levels of muscle. Unless you’re taking dangerous, illegal anabolic steroids and are training two times a day, a woman can’t create anywhere near the amount of muscle a man can.

On top of that, a smart strength training program for women can actually help you to craft a physique that accentuates your natural curves.

For example, a rounded, perky butt is usually the results of strong glute muscles. By working them you can lift your booty, craft the shape you’re looking for and fill out those exercise leggings.

When you see those incredible Instagram models with peachy butts, they weren’t born that way. Their derrieres are the result of hours spent in the gym, using a strength training program for women.

Far from making you look like a jacked-up dude, this is actually the perfect way to tone up and craft your dream physique.

[Related Articles: 19 Female Body Transformations That Prove Strength Training Works]

You gotta lift massive weights

woman doing a squat

This simply isn’t true.

When we say weightlifting, the image of someone ripping a huge weight off the floor comes to mind. While that is a part of it, this kind of intensity is usually reserved for the pros.

Everyone starts somewhere and it takes a whole lot of training to reach those bigger weights, so it’s very unlikely you’ll be picking up those bars straight off the bat. If you do, you might be super woman…

Strength training for women is all about development. The only rule is you have to continually challenge yourself. So, if that means lifting 30kg or 60kg, as long as you feel the burn and it’s not easy, you’re on the right track.

As time goes by, you will start to lift heavier. However, unless you have a specific type of training program, nutrition plan and a whole lot of determination, it’s very unlikely you’ll be lifting extremely heavy weights.

On top of that, the amount you lift is restricted by your size. If you’re naturally small in stature, you won’t be able to lift as much as someone who’s a foot taller than you.

 

There’s an age limit to strength training

woman doing a squat in a strength training workout

One concern you may have is that strength training is for younger women. This simply isn’t the case. In fact, the health benefits that come with this type of working out really complement many of issues older women face.

For example, as you age you lose between 3-8% of your muscle mass a decade and your bone density reduces too, leaving you with weaker and more fragile [1].

Higher muscularity has been proven to not only support your bone structure, but to strengthen your actual bones too.

Just like a younger person, you simply need to perfect your form and identify your limits when it comes to strength training for women.

Start light, make sure your body is moving in the right way, include plenty of mobility and stretching in your workouts and there’s no reason why you can’t fit in an amazing workout and improve your fitness.

[Related Article: 13 HIIT Exercises You Need in Your Weight Loss Workouts

It’s too intense for me

woman with a barbell on her back

We’ve mentioned it above, but the normal image of strength training for women is lifting big weights and a very high intensity.

For you though, it doesn’t have to be that intense. When you see those women, you’re looking at the very top of the spectrum. These incredible ladies are athletes, and we’re assuming your aim is to improve your fitness rather than reach these levels.

Having said that, you still need to challenge yourself and the fact is your body is designed to lift weights. In fact, there are so many health benefits associated with weight lifting and building muscle, that everyone who can should be doing it.

The bottom line is, every workout is only as intense as you make it and the beauty of strength training for women is you can scale it to suit your fitness levels.

It does need to be intense enough to reap reward, but what’s intense for you isn’t the same as what’s intense for a professional athlete. Pick weights that are challenging for you and go from there.

 

I’ll get hurt lifting those weights

woman doing a stiff leg deadlift

Injury is something you should be aware of in every sport and, much like other disciplines, there are measures you can take in strength training to avoid getting hurt.

The first thing you need to do is perfect your form. Whether you’re starting out or you’ve been lifting for a while, ask a trainer to check your technique, otherwise you could be putting your body at risk of injury.

You should start light when learning the correct form, drilling each movement until it feels natural and strong.

It’s also a good idea to know your limits.

By this we mean, listen to your body and don’t lift too heavy. If your form starts to go as you progress through the sets, you’re lifting too much weight. Your technique should never be compromised by a lift.

If you follow these simple rules, you should be in the best position to ensure you don’t suffer from any injuries whilst training.

 [Related Article: Strength Training Exercises That Will Transform Your Performance]

The health benefits of strength training for women

Now we’ve busted the myths that were standing between you and starting your first strength training program for women, it’s time to take a look at the health benefits.

 

Promotes fat loss

The direct benefit of lifting weights is more muscle on your frame. Muscle uses more energy than fat does on your body, so it promotes a higher metabolism and boosts calorie burn.

As long as your diet also supports muscle growth and you’re training regularly, you should see a reduction in the fat on your body. 10 weeks of regular strength training for women increased lean muscle weight by 1.4kg, reduced fat weight by 1.8kg and heightened resting metabolism by 7% on average [1].

[Related Article: Best Fat Burner Supplements for Women]

 

Reduces anxiety

woman smiling with a barbell

If you get anxious you should definitely check out weightlifting. You’ll be surprised how much strength training can help work through those negative feelings.

Studies have shown that lifting weights can actually help to lower the feelings of anxiety you feel, particularly when working at moderate weights [2]

 

Heightens joint and bone health

As we mentioned above, science has found that if you don’t exercise you can lose between 3-8% of your muscle mass every decade, which can directly impact your quality of life, your strength and your overall wellbeing[1].

After 10 weeks of training, the women in this particular study showed a 1-3% increase in bone density[1].

 

Improves body image and confidence

This may not be the most obvious health benefit, but it’s still an important element to consider. After all, it’s the reason so many women go to the gym.

Scientific studies analyzed the effects of strength training in older women and found it resulted in significant improvements in body image, quality of life and satisfaction and comfort [3].

 

So where do you start?

woman doing a weighted lunge in a HIIT workout plan

Now you’re thinking about taking up strength training for women, it’s important to know where to start.

The first thing you need to do is find a good trainer and use their expertise to perfect your technique. This is key to working out safely and keeping your body free from injury.

Next you need to find a training program that works for you.

To do this you need to identify your goals, along with how much time you can realistically commit to your training.

If you’re completely fresh to this type of training we’d recommend working out no more than three times a week and beginning at light weights that you can build up. Once you get into the swing of things you can up the load and the frequency of challenging lifts as you see fit to suit your goals.

 

The final rep

Although it may go against what you’ve always heard, it’s not all about cardio.

If you want to improve your overall fitness, boost your wellbeing and drop fat then you need to be pursing strength training for women too.

To really boost fat loss results, combine your resistance workouts with HIIT. It’s a form of cardio, however it’s more time efficient than endurance training and it’s proven to burn fat, whilst supporting muscle.

Add this style of training to your repertoire and transform your body in a way long treadmill sessions never could.

 


References: 

  1. Westcott WL, Resistance training is medicine: effects of strength training on health. Curr Sports Med Rep. 2012 Jul-Aug.
  2. Strickland, Justin C, and Mark A Smith. “The anxiolytic effects of resistance exercise.” Frontiers in psychology vol. 5 753. 10 Jul. 2014, doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00753
  3. Seguin, Rebecca A et al. “Strength Training Improves Body Image and Physical Activity Behaviors Among Midlife and Older Rural Women.” Journal of extension vol. 51,4 (2013): 4FEA2.

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