What are your current diet or fitness goals? If you’re like most women, chances are your main objective is to attain a particular body weight or be able to fit into a certain dress size. But instead of focusing on the number on your scale or clothes labels, research indicates you’d be better off striving for strength.
Making the case for strength training
A Penn State study showed that women who lifted weights several times a week in addition to performing aerobic exercise and sticking to a healthy diet lost an average of 40 percent more fat than the non-weightlifting participants. This is due to the fact that typical aerobic activities such as running and walking tend to burn muscle in addition to fat, while weightlifting torches almost only fat. Other studies indicate that weightlifters experience a significant boost in metabolism for nearly 40 hours after their workout, leading to more total calories burned.
More reasons to embrace strength training
Quicker fat loss and a fired-up metabolism aren’t the only reasons to incorporate strength training into your workout plan. Weightlifting also helps you develop functional strength, which essentially means that you’ll be better equipped to perform daily tasks such as carrying heavy boxes and suitcases or opening tightly sealed jars.
Another benefit to strength training is that your body will go through a “recomposition” wherein fat will slowly be replaced by muscle. Though the numbers on the scale might go up (after all, muscle is denser than fat), you will actually look leaner, your clothes will fit better, and you will be healthier.
And perhaps the best reason to embrace strength training is that doing so allows you to eat more! The more muscles you have, the more energy (read: food) you need to keep your body functioning. So if you’re tired of trying to subsist on 1200-calorie meal plans, start hitting the weight room.
As you can see, strength training can do a lot more for your health than cardiovascular exercise and diet alone. Of course, you should bear in mind that we’re talking about the kind of strength that comes from lifting heavy weights or doing programs like CrossFit and P90X, not the minimal toning and tightening that comes from holding a 3LB dumbbell in each hand while power walking on the treadmill. Try adding 3 to 4 strength sessions per week so you can discover for yourself why strong is the new skinny!