Written by Nina Kate
Don't be intimidated by those grunting muscleheads in the weight room at the gym—that space is for girls, too! And as a female, you have plenty to gain (and lose) by picking up a set of dumbbells or heading for the selectorized weight machines. If you start lifting weights now, you can help protect your health for the rest of your life. What's more, you probably won't develop bulging, masculine muscles no matter how much weight you lift. According to WebMD, women lack the testosterone to build Arnold-sized brawn. If you're not convinced, just lift a low amount of weight at a high number of repetitions to guarantee that you won't beef up. If you think you won't benefit from a weight-training routine, these reasons to lift will set you straight.
- You'll boost your metabolism. Cardio gets all the glory when it comes to weight loss, but lifting weights also contributes to a leaner physique. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, you can up your metabolism by 15 percent through strength training. That's because muscle is active tissue, whereas fat is essentially dead weight; so muscle requires greater calorie usage, even at rest. Not only is this boost helpful for weight loss, but it can also help prevent the flab from creeping back on. Other helpful strength-training options include body-weight exercises like squats and push-ups, and using resistance cables or tubes.
- You'll have stronger bones. The CDC also pushes strength training for building bone mass. This is especially crucial for women, who lose 1 to 2 percent of their bone tissue each year after menopause. By increasing bone mass, lifting weights can help prevent osteoporosis and spare you from fractures and breakage.
- Youll fight aging. As if getting older didn't suck enough already, you lose muscle mass and gain body fat as you age, according to MayoClinic.com. So the only real way to stop your body from slowly growing flabby, soft and untoned is to build back the missing muscle tissue. Strength training is hands down the best way to accomplish this. Fight Father Time all over your body by performing exercises for all major muscle groups: arms, legs, butt, back, chest and tummy.
- You'll feel better. Feeling blue? Skip the antidepressants and hit the gym instead. The CDC claims that strength training affects the brain in a similar way, elevating your mood and improving self-esteem. The mood boost likely stems from a combination of chemical changes in the brain and improved self-image from increased strength.
- You'll be stronger. No more asking the nearest man to open the spaghetti sauce jar. With weight training, you'll grow into a stronger senorita who's perfectly capable of carrying her own groceries, moving her own furniture and opening her own doors (not that you'll turn your cute neighbor down when he offers to help out). It's empowering for women to be able to perform challenging tasks, and your new-found muscle may allow you to take on activities that were off-limits before.