Weight training proves crucial for women



In a hilarious Yahoo “Flip Side” video, men and women are shown demonstrating the opposite’s stereotypical workout traits at the gym. Men in short shorts awkwardly lift pink dumbbells or bounce on yoga balls talking about grabbing frozen yogurt while women discuss drinking protein powder to maximize their workout or shout obscenities while pushing their friend to bench-press another rep.

Unfortunately, the stereotype, while funny, is relatively true. In most gyms, men head toward the weights; women gravitate toward the cardio equipment.

Ladies, getting in shape by hitting the elliptical is beneficial and can torch some serious calories, but don’t shy away from strength training.

Adding just 20 to 30 minutes of strength training to your exercise program twice a week can help you burn more calories by increasing your resting metabolism rate, develop lean muscle and even help fight depression.

Like cardio, weight-training sessions help reduce overall body fat by torching major calories, but studies have shown women who incorporated weight or resistance training in their workout burned more calories after they left the gym than those who stuck to a cardio-only program. Muscle, unlike fat, is metabolically active, which in English means it burns more calories even if you’re not in the gym.

Forget about the myth that you’ll bulk up from lifting. Researchers have found that women have up to 30 times less of the hormones found in men that cause muscle hypertrophy. Instead, you’ll become more lean and defined and ultimately more healthy.

Plus, there are many other long-term benefits to adding weights including increasing bone density to reduce the risk of osteoporosis, reducing the risk of injury and reducing the signs or symptoms of arthritis or back pain.

Studies have even shown strength training can reduce clinical depression, as women often feel more confident and capable in themselves as a result of their program.

Strength training doesn’t necessarily mean those complicated Olympic lifts you see athletes do in the weight room. Using your own body weight, resistance bands and dumbbells all count, as do weight machines.

Try a single set of 12 reps or two sets of eight reps to get started. If using a machine or dumbbells, you want to choose a weight that tires your muscles by the last few reps. Going until failure, or when you couldn’t possibly do another one, is better to build strength than picking a weight in which you barely break a sweat. Make note of which weight you use and increase it next time to keep your muscles working hard.

If the gym intimidates you, start out slow with body weight exercises, such as push-ups and burpees. Try doing a superset workout at home to combine cardio and weight training. When you do supersets, you work one part of your body, such as doing tricep dips, and then without rest you work another part of your body, such as doing squats. Rotate back and forth between three times and then move onto the next superset. It’s an effective way to work the entire body and get a good resistance workout in.

If you’re already in pretty good shape, try switching up your strength routine by doing a lower rep count with heavier weights or incorporating different lifts. Conquer those pull-ups you never try, add more weight to the squat bar each set, or switch up your lunges by adding dumbbell rows.

Whether you’re a beginner or more experienced with lifting weights, be sure you’re using proper form to avoid the risk of injury and to get the most benefit from the exercise.

If you’re unsure about a lift or exercise, don’t hesitate to ask someone. Most health clubs or weight rooms have professional staff to answer your questions.

It’s time for women to stop shying away from the bench press, squat rack or even dumbbells. We need to break the stereotypical gym roles. Break up with your favorite treadmill and try a strength-training program two to three times a week. Your body will thank you.