How Lifting Weights Really Affects Women

A topic that used to be taboo is now trending: women lifting weights. On the gram, hashtags like strong is sexy and girls who lift have taken over the fitness world, and with good reason. Weight lifting, according to Global News, has more health benefits than many women are aware of, including weight loss, improved posture, better sleep, and increased bone density. 

With age, women lose a percentage of bone density each year, which results in a higher risk of bone disease like osteoporosis (weak and brittle bones). Significant studies show regular weight training improves bone strength and decreases the risk for bone diseases and fractures (via Harvard Health Publishing). In addition to a decrease in bone density, you can also expect to lose muscle mass as you get older, which puts you at risk for developing sarcopenia (via WebMD). Sedentary people can lose as much as five percent of their muscle mass per decade. This can cause a slew of health problems including fragility, functional decline, and even death (per The Lancet). 

Furthermore, resistance training can increase lean muscle mass and decrease fat, and studies have shown that the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn naturally (via Verywell fit). 

Your body will get better, not bulkier

There is a myth in the fitness world that if ladies lift heavy weights, they will get bulky, or appear too masculine. According to senior exercise physiologist Carol Harrison, women do not naturally build massive muscles, as they have lower levels of testosterone than men do. Rather, lifting heavy will help to maintain a desired weight and to tone and sculpt a woman's body (via MDAnderson). On heavy lifting, Harrison reports "there is nothing wrong with a woman pushing up to 200 pounds on a leg press if she can do it."

Furthermore, fitness expert Jacque Crockford, MS, CSCS, tells SHAPE that "lifting heavy weights is a great way to get the shape of the body that you may be seeking." There is also the benefit of targeting specific areas of your body. Crockford says, "Want a perkier bum? Do squats and deadlifts. Want more defined arms and back? Do some shoulder presses and pull-ups". She goes on to explain that for women to create a body-builder figure, it would take years of daily, heavy lifting, a hefty calorie surplus, and persistent hard work. 

More health benefits to enjoy

If you aren't convinced to hit the weights yet, consider these other health benefits of strength training. According to Healthlineupon gaining more muscle mass, you will inevitably lose more fat, and your body can continue to burn calories for up to three days, post-weight training. Not only will you boost your metabolism, but muscle takes up less space than fat does, so the more muscle you put on your body, the leaner your body will get.

According to Verywell Fit, weight training can improve heart health by promoting healthy cholesterol levels, and might help decrease your risk for type 2 diabetes. Adding strength training to your fitness routine two-to-three times per week can strengthen your body, improve your health, and even offer emotional health benefits. A study of 33 clinical trials published in the peer-reviewed journal, JAMA Psychiatryfound a decline in depression symptoms in those who added strength training to their fitness routine. 

It's never too late, and you are never too old, to start a new routine. With the many benefits surrounding weight training and the negative myths debunked, the only question left is when will you start lifting?