Why should women use weights?

By guest writer Mirella Clark

“WANT TO LOOK GOOD NAKED…? GET OFF THE TREADMILL AND INTO THE WEIGHTS ROOM!”

I have been asked by many women, on many different occasions, how they should go about getting their bodies in better shape; how to get better tone and definition; not to mention making the results last! More often than not, when I question their current methods, I get the same response…usually the combination of cutting calories and/or fats, with doing hours of endless cardio. Okay, so this is where you are going wrong ladies!

To burn fat, particularly long-term, you need to build some lean muscle. Burning fat on its own will not help, and long hours spent doing cardio will only lead you to become catabolic (that’s eating away at your muscle), meaning you will lose muscle and ultimately end up as a ‘Fat-Storing Machine’ as opposed to a ‘Fat-Burning Power House!’.

Still confused? Okay, well too much cardio can cause a rise in the stress hormone, Cortisol. And High Cortisol will hinder your ability to burn fat as it can cause a decrease in muscle tissue, suppress your thyroid function, lower your immune system, increase abdominal fat, not to mention a whole host of other negative effects on the body.

Having myself a training history of getting my kicks from cardio throughout my teenage years and upwards, I began to notice in my mid-twenties how lots of running, swimming, aerobics and spinning was not having the same effect on my body composition as it used to, despite training 5, 6, sometimes 7 days a week. It was learning from a friend and Personal Trainer, who introduced me to firstly Kettlebells, then free-weights, that I could reduce the amount of training I was doing (a lot!) and train harder and smarter, with much better results. Within a month of doing 2-3 weights sessions a week, I was noticing a huge difference in my body shape and tone. Not only that, but I felt energized and it was easier to sustain what I had achieved, even after a week off.

There are so many benefits to weight training for females, not just the physical aspect. Lifting weights can make you feel strong and empowered. Daily activities such as lifting, carrying and moving things around become easier, not to mention the benefit this has for us as we age! Weight training is also associated with a decreased risk of disease, such as diabetes and cancer.

The big problem I find with most women I speak to is that they tend to shy away from weights for fear of bulking up. This is where I want to SHOUT OUT to all the ladies reading this…women DO NOT have enough testosterone to grow such large amounts of muscle mass. Do you think that men get big just from lifting weights? No, they also have to eat large amounts of food, and often ‘bulk eat’. I have been lifting weights (hard and heavy I have to add!) for a good number of years now. I am not big and bulky, but more have a greater sense of satisfaction with my body and often asked by women how I achieve my shape.

Cutting calories, which I mentioned earlier, is a common method women use to try to achieve a better body. This is not the route that will help you achieve this. In fact, it is one of the worst things you can do if you want to store more body fat. Nutrition is also a key factor (see my previous article on ‘Fat Loss for Females’) and you cannot out-train a bad diet, particularly with long and endless amounts of cardio. But you can afford to enjoy more of the foods you enjoy with the right nutrition plan and the RIGHT TYPE OF TRAINING!

So if you have never stepped foot in a weights room, and find the treadmill a safer, easier and less intimidating option, why not employ a Personal Trainer for a  few months? Believe me, you will learn a lot and hopefully see some good results that you will be sold on the idea of weights, I pretty much guarantee I! Make sure you challenge your muscles. This means going heavy enough to elicit an adaptation in your muscles (which won’t be achieved with that 2kg dumbbell!).

Still need another good reason…? Weight training also burns more calories post-workout, so your metabolism will still be chugging away, helping you achieve your goals whilst you sit with your feet up!

This doesn’t mean that you have to give up the cardio. Cardio can be achieved from a weights session if you give yourself less rest. Check out this circuit I did on the link below…okay it’s a little hardcore, you don’t have to go this crazy…but it goes to show how effective weights can be at raising your heart rate, making you sweat and pushing you to your limits!

Mirella is a highly qualified strength and conditioning coach and a specialized Bio Signature practitioner based
in the UAE with clients around the globe. She works predominantly with women, coaching them to get the best out of their lives, through education and coaching on the best training, diet and lifestyle approaches to adopt.
Follow Mirella on TWITTER or contact her directly at mirellaclark@hotmail.com

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