To lift or not to lift? If you’re still wondering about this, perhaps the top 3 reasons here could help you decide once and for all:
1.) Look lean and tone all over while keeping bones and muscles strong
The first reason dispels one major myth: "I'll bulk up."
You won’t bulk up. In large part because women have only a fraction of the "male" hormone testosterone, which helps promote muscle tissue growth. As a result, women build less muscle mass than men, and they do so at a slower pace.
Also, when you strength-train, your body will need more energy than usual, and you may feel the need to eat more. And here’s the thing: if you’re not eating the right kinds of foods and portions, and simply eating to satisfy hunger, you could very well gain unwanted pounds and mistake that look of weight gain for “bulking up due to strength training.” So you must understand, it’s not the strength training that’s “bulking you up,” but more so, the not-so-clean foods you were eating or started to eat.
Furthermore, a pound of muscle takes up about 18 percent less space than a pound of fat, so as you burn fat and replace it with lean muscle tissue, you'll actually look leaner, not bulkier.
Aside from aesthetic reasons, strength training helps to not only maintain, but improve bone density. This can help to fight off osteoporosis (brittle and fragile bones).
2.) Improve your metabolism, for the long term
As women age, they naturally lose muscle mass. This causes your metabolism to slow, which means you could start building a spare tire by the time you reach your 30s. When you do weight-bearing exercises, you start revving up your metabolism—and it keeps burning for many hours after your workout.
Without regular strength training to build and maintain muscle mass, your body’s metabolism cools down over time and burns fewer and fewer calories. According to a study done in the US in 1992, women who do not strength train lose about 7 pounds of muscle every ten years and experience a reduction in metabolism equal to at least 350 calories per day.
Also keep in mind, muscle tissue is more "active" than fat tissue, with each pound burning about 30 calories a day just to sustain itself. So even if you’re sitting on the couch or stuck at your desk for eight hours a day, the extra lean muscles you develop will burn more calories, helping you keep weight off for good.
3.) Blast fat fast — yes, even belly fat!
If you want to sculpt your body to look great in a bikini, then you must lift weights. A study done by the University of Alabama proved that women that were strength training lost more intra-abdominal fat (deep belly fat) than those that just did cardio.
Adding strength training to your cardio workout can certainly help burn way more calories than just doing cardio alone. This is especially true for women that manage to progressively increase the weight load they are lifting.
It has been proven that even though more calories may be burned during a one-hour session of cardio, with strength training you can benefit from the “afterburn" effect. This means that for up to 24 hours after the workout has ended, calories are being burned at an elevated level for recovery, blasting more fat even while you’re at rest.