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January 2, 2015

Why Women Should Lift Heavy Sh*t.

*Disclaimer: Elephant Journal articles represent the personal opinion, view or experience of the authors, and can not reflect Elephant Journal as a whole. This website is not designed to, and should not be construed to, provide medical advice, professional diagnosis, opinion or treatment to you or any other individual, and is not intended as a substitute for medical or professional care and treatment.

 

As a woman, I’ve found that I carry the weight of the world on my shoulders. Like many of us, I take the burdens of my family and make them my own.

I stress myself by overworking, under-eating, and getting burnt out.

In essence, I feel like I do all the heavy emotional lifting.

Weight lifting (along with yoga and self love), has helped me to shift into doing the heavy lifting in the gym and dealing with all of the other stress in my life differently.

I can’t remember exactly when I started lifting weights regularly, maybe three or four years ago. However, I do know that I’ve had a love/hate relationship with the gym because of time and money constraints, but I always come back. I know that cutting it out of life makes me feel like crap and that I’m unhappy with my body when I’m not consistently lifting. I immediately recommend weight training to anyone who is looking for weight loss advice.

I have not found any other thing that delivers more benefits, lasting results, and is more enjoyable than weights.

Weight lifting isn’t just for men—it’s for anyone who can do it (you can certainly work around any disabilities or injuries, so ask your doctor or physical therapist first).

So these are the four reasons why I lift heavy sh*t and one myth that may be holding you back:

1. Strong women are badass.

Thanks to weight lifting, I’ve never felt more powerful, more confident, more in charge of myself than when I get my butt to the gym regularly and consistently go up in weight or hit one more rep than I did the week before.

It has physically made me stronger, but it has also taught me perseverance.

You don’t get results overnight in the gym as with most things in life. To really benefit from the gym, you need to go consistently (something I admit I struggle with on a routine basis because of school), but this doesn’t mean you need to kill yourself every day of the week either.

2. You will look great.

Although I don’t think that how you look should be the sole motivating factor for going, it can definitely make you feel better about yourself.

We’ve all heard that muscle weighs more than fat, right? Wrong!

A pound of muscle weighs exactly the same as a pound of fat. But, muscle is a lot denser than fat so a pound of muscle takes up a lot less room than a pound of fat. I’ve found with consistent training and good food, my body weight normalizes. Even with less than desirable eating habits, my body has continued to lose fat and look better.

With weight training, I’m able to sculpt my body the way I want. If I desire wider shoulders, I can do that. If I want thicker thighs or a butt, I can do that too. If you’re just getting started, I wouldn’t worry about any of that though—just get in the gym and get a routine going.

3. Better health.

We all know that physical activity is great for us, but how and where do weights fit into all of this?

Bone density is one of the hardest things to build in our body. Because women rely on estrogen for a lot of things and our levels tend to dip naturally with our monthly cycle as well as dip permanently with menopause, we’re at risk for developing osteoporosis. By strength training, we can mitigate some of the adverse effects of decreasing estrogen levels.

Weight lifting has also shown to have protective effects on the brain and is a great pick-me-up for those dealing with depression (I can vouch for this, as I use weight lifting along with other things to manage my own depression).

 It has also shown such health effects like reducing bad cholesterol, helping diabetes sufferers manage their blood sugar (it also helps people without diabetes regulate blood sugar), and promotes better quality sleep. This list is definitely not conclusive and researchers are discovering more every few months.

4. Weight lifting is more effective than cardio alone for burning fat.

By building muscle, the body becomes more efficient at burning fuel (and fat). The more muscle you build the more calories your body burns. It’s also been proven that your body continues to burn calories even after you’ve stopped lifting, but this isn’t the case with cardioonce you’ve stepped off the machine, that’s it.

Myth: If you lift weights or lift heavy, you will become She-hulk and look like a man. Wrong.

Women don’t make the same amount of testosterone that men do. What this means is that we cannot produce the same amount of strength and/or muscle mass that a man could, naturally. Even if you have higher levels of testosterone (see Dutee Chand, Indian sprinter who was banned from competition sprinting because her testosterone was too high), you will not necessarily look like a man because there is more to it than that (diet is about 80% of your results).

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Author: Melissa Scavetta

Apprentice Editor: Bria Luu / Editor: Catherine Monkman

Photo: Boemski at Flickr

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