Lifestyle column: Why women must weight train

Ben Hanton
Ben Hanton

The most effective and healthiest way to train for rapid fat loss results is to lift weights.

Not the little 1lb plastic weights in the aerobics studio, but the big heavy ones found in the free weights area of your gym.

Most women are put off this idea because of the misconception that picking up anything heavier than their water bottle will immediately give them the physique of an Olympic shot putter. However in reality, this could not be further from the truth!

First and foremost, testosterone levels in women are 15-20 times lower than those found in men. Testosterone is one of the key muscle building hormones, so this fact alone tells us that women will experience only a small fraction of the muscle growth of men given the same training stimulus.

Additionally, in order for a man to gain a noticeable amount of muscle mass, he must be consuming a large calorie surplus for a long period of time. So unless you are injecting yourself with anabolic steroids and eating three whole chickens a day, you do not need to worry about developing a physique like Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Now on to the benefits of weight training: there is a growing body of research showing weight training to be a more effective fat loss tool than traditional aerobic training. Studies have shown that our bodies burn additional calories for up to several days following an intense weight training session. Additionally, any small gains in muscle mass over the course of a training programme serve to increase resting metabolic rate, improve markers of health (such as insulin sensitivity and bone mineral density) and reduce the likelihood of joint pain and injury. Weight training also elevates fat burning hormones to a greater extent than aerobic training.

One of the most important features of any training programme is the principle of “progressive overload”. This means gradually increasing the stress placed upon the body during exercise and it is essential for continual fat loss results (the body will not be forced to adapt if it is exposed to the same stimulus time and time again). It is the most commonly missing component of the training programme of your average gym user. Weight training provides us with very straightforward ways in which to progress slowly and consistently. Every workout we can lift a slightly heavier weight, perform an extra repetition or set, or decrease our rest intervals by several seconds. This all adds up to force our bodies to continue to adapt to the stresses placed upon them.

The only problem with weight training is getting started. Many women find it intimidating due to the male dominance of that area of the gym and a lack of perceived competence. Do not be afraid to seek help. You will be amazed how willing people are to give you advice if you just ask for it!

If you are still struggling for confidence, I recommend considering a few sessions in a private personal training studio, away from the hustle and bustle of your commercial gyms.

If you are interested in personal training or would just like to discuss your training and nutrition, get in touch with Ben Hanton at Elitas Fitness, Chichester. Contact Ben on 01243 920536 or via email ben@elitas.co.uk.

For more information about Elitas Fitness, visit their website.