7 Reasons Women Should Lift Weights

Yoga and the treadmill have their place, but they're not enough. Lifting weights gives you an edge over belly fat, stress, heart disease, and cancer – and it's the single most effective way to look hot in a bikini. Yet somehow women are still hesitant. Only about 1 in 5 females strength train two or more times a week.

Here are 7 reasons why you should prioritize strength training in your fitness routine today!

1. Burn More Fat

If you think cardio is the key to blasting belly fat, think again. When Penn State researchers put dieters into three groups (no exercise, aerobic exercise only, and aerobic with resistance training), they all lost around 21 pounds. The group who lifted weights shed 6 more pounds of fat than those who didn't perform any resistance training.

Muscle loss may drop your scale weight, but it doesn't improve your reflection in the mirror. You're also more likely to gain back the flab you lost. By adding resistance training to your workouts in addition to your nutritional plan, you'll protect your hard-earned muscle and burn more fat.

2. Increase Metabolism and Burn More Calories

The less muscle you have, the slower your metabolism will be. When you diet without doing resistance training, up to 25 percent of the weight loss may be muscle loss. Weight training while dieting can help you preserve and even rebuild muscle fibers. The more lean mass you have, the higher your metabolism will be and the more calories you’ll burn all day long.

Researchers found that when people did a total-body workout with just three big-muscle moves (like Fitrme's Free Workout Wednesday) their metabolisms were raised for 39 hours afterward. They also burned a greater percentage of calories from fat compared with those who didn't lift.

3. Change Your Body Shape

Resistance training can slim you down, create new curves, and help you avoid the "middle-age spread." As you build muscle, your body begins to take a nice hourglass shape – perfect for that swimsuit. Dropping only 3 percent of your total body fat could translate into a total loss of 3+ inches off your hips and thighs.

Worried about bulking up? Don't – women don't have enough muscle-building hormones to gain a lot of mass like men. Keep your diet clean, be consistent with your workouts, and be amazed at your results!

4. Build Stronger Bones

As you age, you are at risk of losing both bone and muscle mass. Just as muscles get stronger and bigger with use, so do bones when they’re made to bear weight. A study conducted at McMaster University found that after a year of resistance training, postmenopausal women increased spinal bone mass by 9 percent. Stronger bones and increased muscle mass also lead to better flexibility and balance, which is especially important for women as they age.

5. Be Happier

Exercise in general is a great way to manage stress. Researchers found that people who performed three weight workouts a week for six months significantly improved their scores on measures of anger and overall mood. Studies have consistently shown those who regularly strength train tend to manage stress better and experience fewer adverse reactions to stressful situations than those who don't exercise.

That's not all. Resistance-training studies on older adults show that moderate intensity weightlifting improves memory and cognitive function. Next time you need to blow off some steam, hit the weights.

6. Have Better Heart Health

More than 480,000 women die from cardiovascular disease each year, making it the number-one killer of women over the age of 25. The good news is adding resistance training to your workout can help keep your heart pumping. Resistance training was approved as a healthy form of exercise for those at risk of heart disease by the American Heart Association. The American Medical Association (AMA) reports that people who do 30 minutes of resistance training each week have a 23% reduced risk of developing heart disease compared to those who don't lift weights.

Researchers at the University of Michigan found that people who did three total-body workouts a week for two months decreased their diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number) by an average of eight points. That's enough to reduce the risk of a stroke by 40 percent and the chance of a heart attack by 15 percent!

7. Get Into Shape Faster

The term cardio shouldn't describe only aerobic exercise. Researchers found that circuit training with resistance training raises your heart rate 15 beats per minute higher than if you ran at 60 to 70 percent of your max heart rate. This approach strengthens muscles and provides cardiovascular benefits similar to those of aerobic exercise – so you save time without sacrificing results.

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