When you think of “women’s fitness” you probably think ankle weights, pink + purple dumbbells and Zumba. The other elements of the fitness world: kettlebells, boxes and squat racks are the daunting uncharted territory of the gym. Just the thought of trading in your step counter for a pull-up bar is enough to make your stomach churn. I mean, we’re looking for the lean body look, not the Mr. Olympia look. So, if you’re not jacked up on testosterone and whey, then there’s no need to unchain yourself from the treadmill, right?
Wrong. You are so, so wrong.
Ladies, stop avoiding the weight racks! Get the destructive thoughts out of your pretty little head and pick up a dumbbell. You absolutely don’t need 26-inch biceps and pulsing veins to walk in the weight room, just an optimistic attitude and a craving for that bikini bod.
The truth is that the benefits that you gain from strength + resistance are much more efficient in helping you achieve that “toned look” than cardio alone. In fact, researchers have been recently making exceptionally compelling arguments in favor of promoting increased weight training for women. And I know what you’re probably thinking, “Won’t I get bulky and manly looking?!” The short answer is, no. Not if you don’t want to that is! Let me explain…
It Takes A LOT to Become “Bulky”
Building muscle and bulking up are two distinct processes and there are different ways you can train depending on the “shape” and look you are trying to achieve for your physique.
When you lift weights, you are essentially creating tears in the muscle. As they repair themselves, they become bigger and stronger. This is building muscle mass and decreasing fat, helping you look lean and toned.
To become bulky and gain substantial size, one would have to put in a lot of conscious effort. Bodybuilders spend hours upon hours in the gym and follow a rigorous nutrition and training plan that promotes significant muscle growth. It becomes a lifestyle in order to bulk up and is nearly impossible to do by simply lifting weights.
About five months back, I finally cut ties with my cardio-intensive approach to fitness and began to incorporate weight lifting. I have never been happier or more confident in my own skin. I’m starting to see a whole new shape to my body that I never thought would be possible. Dedicating 5 – 6 sessions a week to weight lifting, increasing my protein intake and watching my overall nutrition has proved to not only help me gain lean muscle but also helped me begin to achieve that toned look I have always desired.
Benefits of Weight Training for Women
Here are just a handful of reasons why you shouldn’t skip out.
C’mon girls, we all know that we are constantly in need of functional strength. Whether it’s lifting up children, hauling groceries or trying to maneuver that overfilled Target cart though the idea. Regularly partaking in moderate weight training can increase a women’s strength by 30 – 50%! 
Studies have shown that women who lift 2 – 3 times per week regularly for two months will lose 3.5 pounds of fat and gain approximately 2 pounds of muscle.  Why? Well, as muscle mass increases, your resting metabolic rate increases as well. This results in more calories being burned throughout the day without physical activity, for every pound of muscle gained; you will burn 40 – 55 additional calories each day; this adds up quick!
Benefit Bone Health
Osteoporosis is a grim health concern for women. You can increase your bone density by 13% in just six months simply by incorporating more resistance training to your routine.  Resistance training places stress on bones, this helps favor bone deposition by activating the production of osteoblasts (bone cells). 
Boost Your Mood
It’s known that exercising, in general, will release endorphins, “feel good hormones” that improves mood, contributes to the coping of anxiety and depression and can prevent injury.  You will also feel a sense of accomplishment after you finish your workout which can help improve self-confidence and pride.
Tips for Building Lean Muscle
As with anything health + fitness related, always remember that everyone’s bodies and genic makeup are different so keep track of your progress and be aware of your body changes. Adapt your methods as you find necessary, what may be a perfect fit for me, may not work for you!
Forget “High Rep, Low Weight”
I mean, you don’t have to forget it ENTIRELY but don’t let it be your holy grail. You don’t need to do 100 reps with 5-pound weights to get lean. To properly shape your body, you should be pushing your muscles to their limits almost every workout. A very general rule of thumb is that you should be able to complete between 8 – 12 reps with correct form. If you are able to lift more than 12 reps per set, up the weight a few pounds.
Watch Your Diet
This is arguable the most important aspect of muscle growth. Your diet must be balanced and wholesome to fuel your body, encourage muscle repair and promote weight loss. The more fat you have covering your muscles, the harder it is to see the hard-earned development underneath. BUT, you must not deprive your body of nutrients and vitamins. Protein is especially important to incorporate when trying to stay lean. On average, women should aim for approximately 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight.
Make H20 Your New BFF
Dehydration is one of the leading causes of muscle breakdown. Water makes up 75 – 80% of muscle and to encourage the production of new tissue; it’s imperative that you keep your electrolyte balance in check. As a bonus, drinking more water will also help in the detoxification of your body which leads to weight loss, improved skin and shiny hair.
Get to Bed
Many of us have a difficult time hitting the recommended 8 hours of Zzz’s every night. But sleep is crucial to muscle development, since it is the key time for growth hormone release. It also helps reduce anxiety which triggers the release of cortisol, a stress hormone that provides breeding grounds for fat gain.
So there you have it ladies, don’t be afraid to show men that strength looks sexy on women too 😉
❥ As always, I am here to help in any way I can.
You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org