When discussing fitness, one of the most common questions I encounter is, "Should I weight train?" For most men, weight training is more often than not well accepted and engaged in with vigor and enthusiasm. With many women, there is often present an unrealistic fear of gaining "bulky muscle" or "looking like a man." There can be nothing farther from the truth. Women who engage in weight training discover they look and feel far more feminine. (Throw those horrifying images of female bodybuilders out of your head. Those women are drug abusers who are filling their bodies with male hormones.) Truth be told, a woman cannot look like a man, whether she wants to or not, via a natural and health-promoting weight training regimen. So, why should anyone consider engaging in a well-rounded weight training regimen? Consider the following:
1. Weight training and gaining beautiful muscle mass keeps fat away. How easy is that?! Muscle, all by itself, helps keep the body lean. Muscle must maintain itself by burning energy even while you're enjoying a movie with the family on the sofa.
2. Weight training prevents sarcopenia (muscle atrophy that occurs with aging) and frailty which not only counters the effects of aging, but actually promotes a younger, more youthful appearance. So you achieve a double benefit: a beautiful, shapely body that looks and feels young.
3. Weight training helps in the development of improved and enhanced body mechanics. This not only helps improve the execution of daily activities, but improves quality of life and body confidence.
4. Strength training improves and can increase bone density. While beginning a weight training program earlier in life can guarantee a lifetime of strong bones, beginning a weight training program later in life prevents bone loss and may even improve bone density (results depend on the seriousness of the weight training regimen). For women diagnosed with osteopenia, this is the time to begin your weight training regimen to prevent and halt the development of osteoporosis.
5. Weight training Increases the strength of ligaments and tendons. This leads to improved motor performance and a decreased risk for injury. In other words, weight training strengthens and improves the health of the joints.
6. Weight training plays a major role in disease prevention. Studies have clearly shown that engaging in weight training prevents diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis, lymphoma, and other cancers.
7. Weight training helps manage chronic conditions by reducing the signs and symptoms of arthritis, back pain, obesity, heart disease, depression, and diabetes (to name a few).
8. Weight training boosts energy levels. Not only does strength training increase your physical work capacity, but also (as noted above) improves your ability to perform activities of daily living. This translates into working harder and longer.
9. Weight training improves your mood. Exercise releases neurochemicals called endorphins. Endorphins help bring about feelings of euphoria and general well-being.
10. Weight training burns calories during and after exercise. The most effective and health promoting exercise regimen is known as HIIT, an acronym for High Intensity Interval Training. Weight training does exactly that. With each set performed, the body engages in a high intensity burst, followed by a period of rest. This burns a great deal of calories and is the safest type of exercise for the heart. And (again, as noted above), muscle burns energy in order to maintain itself even while at rest.
Still wondering if you should engage in a weight training regimen? ;)