Cardio certainly has its time and place, but if you haven’t stepped foot into the weight room yet, you should probably consider creating a strength training program for yourself. Although weightlifting may traditionally (and stereotypically) be known as a physical activity for men, women have been dominating the weightlifting space this past year — and we’re more inspired than ever to pick up those dumbbells.
If you’re flirting with the idea of doing more weightlifting, don’t procrastinate any longer. These are the major benefits that come to you when you have a regular strength-training program.
The muscles you develop and grow from weightlifting wouldn’t be achieved if you only stuck to running or cycling. By using extra weight on top of your bodyweight to strengthen your body, you develop more lean muscle mass — without getting bulky. Not only do you get stronger, but building that muscle also increases the rate at which your body sheds fat, according to Dee (Diksha) Gautham, NASM-certified personal trainer and NPC bikini competitor.
You Burn More Fat Throughout the Day
That lean muscle you’ve been building works in your favor long after the workout is over. “Weight loss is a simple principle based on a healthy caloric deficit,” explained Ridge Davis, personal trainer in West Hollywood, CA. “Weightlifting raises your resting metabolic rate, which simply means the amount of calories your body burns in and out of the gym increases,” he explained. According to Ridge, if you spend one hour lifting weights, you “will increase the amount of calories you burn the entire day, making it easier to stay in a caloric deficit.”
As you’re giving your muscles a workout, you’re also strengthening the tissues and joints, which prevents future injuries from occurring. Your ankles will be stronger when you run, your elbow joints will feel less achy when you play tennis, and you’ll have less chronic pain in your knees after a long day at work.
Additionally, studies show that weightlifting helps to prevent osteoporosis, since your bones become denser and stronger. You’ll be happy many years down the line when you still feel strong and fit.
You Build Natural Curves in Your Body
No, this is not a myth. You can actually build curves in your body and enhance the curves you’ve already got! “Muscle adds an amazing toned, feminine definition to the body,” Dee said. She says you have nothing to worry about when it comes to getting bulky. “It’s really hard for women to put on the kind of muscle mass that guys can, because we don’t have the hormones for that,” she explained. “What will happen if you train with weights is that you’ll get sexy murves (muscle curves)!”
Ridge added, “Heavy lifting is the best way to create strong, curvy hips and a tiny waist.” He works on moderately heavy weights with his clients, and he recommends doing cardio only once a week.
You Improve Your Mood and Get Better Sleep
“Besides feeling stronger and sexier, weightlifting is proven to reduce your stress levels and enhance your sleep,” Ridge told POPSUGAR. All the endorphins rushing through your body will put you in a great mood, then at the end of the day, your body will be more than ready for a long, restful night of sleep.
You Feel Stronger and More Confident
Getting stronger and fitter will inevitably increase your self-esteem, but there’s something particularly exciting about hitting a PR in your squat for the first time. When you realize how strong and capable your body truly is, you’ll feel much more confident in your day-to-day life.