Step into most gyms in North America and take a close look at what is going on. The typical scenario looks like this- men on one side lifting weights, women on the other side working the cardiovascular machines. Take a peek inside your typical aerobics class- invariably it will be filled with 90% (or more) women.
If you were to ask these women what their primary goal was I can guarantee 50% (or a lot more) would say that they wanted to lose body fat and “tone” up. So why are these people who are keen on ridding their bodies of fat and developing a leaner, more toned appearance neglecting the one form of exercise that will work wonders for them long after they have left the gym?
It is an unfortunate fact that many people are not aware of the importance of strength training for women when it comes to fat loss. As a matter of fact, if losing body fat is your goal, weight training should top your priority list of physical activities that you do. Here’s why;
Strength training builds lean muscle. Muscle is active tissue, by this I mean it requires energy (calories) to sustain itself. As a woman adds more muscle to her frame she is causing her body to increase its metabolic rate and burn more calories. This is an extremely important point to remember. The effects of strength training and the resulting increase in muscle mass and metabolism can be illustrated as follows;
30% body fat
Lean Body Mass: 91 pounds
Metabolic Rate: 1,092 Calories per day (91×12)
18% body fat
Lean Body Mass: 106.6
Metabolic Rate: 1279.20 per day (106×12)
Now watch closely and witness the benefit of strength training for women. Subject B has a metabolism that burns 187.2 (1279.20 – 1092 = 187.2) calories more per day than Subject A. This may not sound like much but let’s take a look at this over time. We know that there are approximately 3500 calories in one pound of body fat. Assuming that there is a direct relationship between calories and fat burning, what will be the effect of Subject B’s increased metabolism over the course of one year?
There are 365 days in a year. Subject B will burn 187.2 more calories per day than Subject A. 187.2 x 365= 68328 extra calories burned in a year. 68328 divided by 3,500 (calories in one pound of fat) = 19.52 pounds of fat lost.
That is nearly 20 pounds of burned body fat that may have otherwise ended up on her hips, thighs and buttocks (among other places) without doing anything more than Subject A!
This really starts to snowball over time- believe me when I tell you that losing 20 pounds of body fat is going to make a huge difference in the way a woman looks and feels. This number can be increased even more when you add in extra cardiovascular exercise as well.
In addition, a well designed strength training program will provide benefits beyond body fat reduction. These benefits include;
1. Increased bone density. By the age of 18, you will have all the bone density you will ever have unless you strength train. Research has shown that resistance training can increase spinal bone density by 13 percent in six months. This makes strength training a powerful tool against osteoporosis.
2. Decreased risk of heart disease. According to recent research, strength training will improve your blood pressure and cholesterol profile.
3. Decreased risk of developing diabetes. Type two or adult-onset diabetes is a growing and serious problem for men and women alike. Studies have shown that strength training can increase glucose utilization by 23 percent in only four months.
4. Improved state of mind. The Center for Disease Control discovered that exercise and more specifically, strength training, “has a profound effect on a person’s mental and emotional health.”
If the fear of “looking like a man” is your reason for not participating in a strength training program you should re-consider. The fear of developing big, bulky muscles is largely born from seeing pictures of professional bodybuilders in magazines. It should be noted that in order to achieve this look, these athletes must inject exogenous anabolic hormones that enable them to grow well beyond what nature intended.
For women of all ages, this ends the debate over whether or not you should be training with weights. The answer is clear- lift and lose!
Bruce Krahn is the author of the Fat Fighter Diet and president of eBodi.com- the internets #1 system for healthy fat loss. You can download a free copy of his secrets to fat loss and take his free wellness analysis (find out how healthy you really are) by visiting http://www.ebodi.com