Doing anything “like a girl” has always been a put-down, an insult, a slam to one’s ability. But today, women are stronger and fiercer than ever. Not only can we do everything guys do, but some of us do it better. Take weight lifting for example, not only are more and more women getting their daily dose of iron, many are out-lifting the men, especially if you take into consideration the growing numbers of female Crossfitters and power lifters. The term “lift like a girl” has taken on a sense of empowerment; as it should, nothing boosts your confidence like hitting a new personal record (PR) in your squat. If that’s not enough to get you running with the big dogs, here are a few more reasons you should start lifting like a girl.
1. You’ll burn fat
Many women think the key to ditching those stubborn pounds is spending their life on the treadmill, however, that couldn’t be farther from the truth. While steady-state cardio is, by all means, a great way to burn calories, if you really want to shed the fat you need to pick up the weights. Strength training on a regular basis will build lean muscle, which on its own will help boost your metabolism. However, the recovery process is the real reason lifting weights is so effective. After each workout, your body has to devote a lot of time to repair damaged muscle tissue and build new muscle – this takes a decent amount of energy (calories), which means your body is constantly working even when you’re not in the gym.
2. You’ll get stronger
Strength may not seem like a big deal, but I assure you it is. Being strong makes life easier, simple as that. Whether you’re toting a couple of kids around every day, packing boxes across the office, carrying groceries up five flights of stairs or trying to wrestle your unwilling dog into the tub, strength is a huge asset. Here’s another way to look at it, the Framingham Disability Study found that 40% of women between 55-64 years old, 45% of women between 65-74, and 65% of women between 75-84 were unable to lift ten pounds. To put that in perspective, one gallon of milk weighs just under nine pounds – do you really want to be the one who needs help pouring milk on her Wheaties?
3. You’ll have amazing bones
We women have a tendency to lose bone mass as we age, increasing our risk for fractures and osteoporosis. Breaking a hip would be a pretty big bummer when you’re supposed to be enjoying your golden years. Scientists from Tufts University found that “nearly two dozen cross-sectional and longitudinal studies have shown a direct and positive relationship between the effects of resistance training and bone density.” Start lifting now, and instead of relying on a walker you’ll be out wake-boarding while your grand-kids drive the boat.
4. You’ll look good
Remember how I mentioned that added muscle will stoke your metabolism? Well, it will also give you a smokin’ bod. Training heavy with compound lifts will fill out that physique right where you need it, adding mass where you want it and whittling down the other parts – a fuller, lifted derrière; thighs you’re not willing to hide; a strong back and core; and arms so chiseled you’d consider going sleeveless year round. Athletes look good because they train hard, but you can and should too. Adding muscle now will keep you looking and feeling good for years to come.
5. You’ll have more energy and better sleep
If you’re one of the millions of people who find themselves constantly behind the curve on sleep and can’t seem to find second gear during the day, pumping iron a few times a week may be the magic pill you need. Building a stronger body will give you more stamina by making you more efficient at delivering and using oxygen and nutrients. The better trained your body becomes, the more energy you’ll experience throughout the day. All of that energy exerted through physical activity during the day can help you sleep more soundly at night.
6. You’ll be healthier
Lifting weights can lead to an overall improvement in health, particularly when it comes to heart health and blood sugar issues. Strength training has been shown to prevent, control and treat hypertension; improve heart and lung function; and reduce factors of coronary heart disease. The American Diabetes Association suggests strength training can lower blood glucose levels and make your body more sensitive to insulin, which means it’ll take fewer jelly beans to hit that afternoon sugar high.
7. You’ll feel better
Aside from boosting your confidence and self-esteem, lifting weight can also help you feel better in general by reducing signs and symptoms of many chronic conditions such as back pain, fibromyalgia, arthritis, anxiety, depression and obesity, according to a study published in The American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine.
8. You’ll live longer
If all that wasn’t enough to get weights in your hands, how about the fact that strength training might just add some years to that epic life of yours. Researchers at UCLA found that older adults with more muscle mass were less likely to die prematurely than those with less muscle. It’s generally believed that obese individuals are at greater risk of dying early, however, this study proved that it’s not the weight on the scale that’s important but rather the amount of muscle each subject possessed that was the determining factor – so get your muscle on!
Ready to start lifting like a girl? Here’s our guide to weightlifting!