It's not uncommon for people to think that weight training or even exercising with weights can only lead to one thing: big muscles. And a result, those looking to avoid the bulked-up look, most often women, are put off ever going near anything resembling a dumbbell.
In truth, according to the Women’s Heart Foundation, it's very hard for females to become extremely muscly. Due to the higher levels of oestrogen in women, lifting weights results in toning and strengthening as opposed to an increase in muscle size. Weight lifting also helps women with their endurance and stamina too. So ladies, there's really no need to worry about looking like Hulk Hogan after a stint with the kettlebell.
There's also a perception that if you're not 'strong' already then attempting to lift heavy weights will cause injury and pain, which is also completely wrong – weights are there to help with strength. You just need to lift only within your ability.
There are many reasons why training with weights can benefit your health, as well as help you hit your fitness goals quicker, that couldn't be further from acquiring bulging biceps. Don't believe us? Well read on...
Burn up more fat
Doing cardio exercises burns fat for sure, but it also burns up a proportion of muscle too. Doing cardio alongside weight lifting however will result in a higher percentage of fat being burned, saving your muscles for strength and stamina. Sure, just aerobic exercises (dancing, spinning, running etc.) will help reduce your weight, but what you'll be left with may still be soft and flabby (there’ll just be less of it). Incorporate weights into your routine too and once the calories have shed, you'll see a firmer body underneath.
Burn calories whilst watching TV
Pumping iron at the gym, even for just 10 minutes, means you will be burning up calories when you're back home, relaxing on the sofa. How? This is because the muscles used in your session need to repair themselves and use up energy in the body to do so. So as you're sat watching a boxset, your recently-worked muscles are eating up even more calories. Just don't be munching on crisps or popcorn at this point – you'll be counteracting all their good work!
Increase your bones’ density and muscle mass for the future
As we age, our body's muscle mass diminishes, and our bones get weaker and we are less able to carry heavy things. The older we get, the more muscle we lose and the more fat we gain (as a natural replacement) too. This makes for a very feeble, unhealthy body, especially if fat increases around vital organs. Lifting weights earlier on in life helps to increase bone density and keeps the muscles you do have stronger for longer.
The Upper Body Workout
The Lower Body Workout
Want more workout tips? Check out some of Clean Eating Alice's best exercise advice.