Why Women Should Lift Weights

I love weight training. It’s empowering, makes me feel good, and helps me maintain the physique I want. I have spoken to many women who don’t understand the benefits of lifting weights or who have a fear of “bulking up”. Speaking from years of experience, it takes very heavy weight, very focused training, and a lot of calories to form large amounts of muscle. That being said, here are some awesome benefits women can experience when they choose to do a weightlifting routine!

  • You burn more body fat! With weight training (unlike steady state cardio), you activate EPOC (Excess Post Exercise Oxygen Consumption), which is just a fancy way of saying that your metabolism is elevated (working harder) after you weight train.
  • You increase your calorie expenditure! When at rest, muscle burns more calories than body fat. The more muscle you have, the more calories you’re burning without even trying!
  • You get real curves! While there is no such thing as “toning muscle”, what people are really referring to is your muscle being more visible through your current level of body fat. The more body fat you lose and the more muscle you build, the more “toned” and “defined” you will appear.
  • More energy and positive mood! Weight training protocols appear to greatly increase plasma beta-endorphin concentration, which in turn modulates mood in a positive manner and helps you feel more energized.
  • It improves your health! Not only does weight training reduce Low-Density Lipoproteins (LDL) (often referred to as “unhealthy” cholesterol), it also elevates serum values of high-density lipoproteins (referred to as “healthy” cholesterol).Weight training is also one of the most effective ways to increase insulin sensitivity. This means that your body is more efficient at using carbohydrates for energy and assisting the forming of muscle tissue, as opposed to storing them and converting them to adipose tissue.
  • Get stronger bones! Weight-bearing exercise has been proven to provide mechanical stimuli or “loading” important for the maintenance and improvement of bone health (fending off osteoporosis and osteopenia as we age).

Top 5 Nutrition Tips For Working Out

I get a lot of questions from my clients and friends about pre, post and even intra-workout nutrition. Here are my top 5 tips for the content and timing of your workout nutrition!

Unless you just plan to go on a gentle jog around the neighborhood, carbs are an essential part of weight training or intense training (think 75% effort +).  During weight training and high intensity training (*cough* CrossFit *cough* weightlifting), your body’s need for glycogen (energy made from carbohydrate) increases dramatically. If you don’t eat carbohydrates before you work out hard, you can experience poor performance, loss of focus, muscle failure, light headedness, blurred vision, and loss of endurance. Reach for carbohydrates like oatmeal, sweet potato, fruit, and whole grain bread. This doesn’t mean plow through platefuls right before going to the gym though – aim for a reasonable portion, about the size of your fist for ladies and two fists for gents.

You don’t need to slam chocolate milk as you lay on the floor in a pool of your own sweat post-training. You DO however, need to consume a meal within 45-90 minutes of your workout ending. This meal should have a reasonable amount of protein (1 palm-full for ladies, 2 palm-fulls for gents), carbohydrate (1 fist for ladies, 2 for gents) and fat (1 thumb for ladies, 2 thumbs for men). This post-workout meal will insure your body can do the following: recover from that training session (lower cortisol, the stress hormone which causes muscle wasting and body fat accumulation, and restore glycogen, the body’s fuel), build muscle (protein is the building block) and raise blood sugar levels so you can go about your day without feeling like you’re about to black out.

Don’t use your workout as an excuse to chow down on donuts, gummies, skittles, high sugar cereals or sodas. Though fast digesting carbohydrates can be good for elite athletes during a 100m sprint at the Olympics, for most of the population, whole foods (whole grains, fruit, potatoes, rice) are better. You get less chemicals and unknown substances, more slow-digesting carbohydrates that give a steady stream of energy, and less of a post-workout crash.

Water regulates your body temperature and lubricates your joints. It helps transport nutrients to give you energy and keep you healthy. Try putting electrolytes in your water for added benefit (vital for hydration, blood pH and proper nerve and muscle function). Drink a minimum of 18-25oz of water during the 3-4 hours leading up to your workout, drink water during your workout as you can tolerate it, and drink a minimum of 10oz of water after you finish your workout.

Taurine, Glycine and Magnesium will all help lower stress and cortisol post exercise (that mean hormone that wants to undo all your hard work), calm your Central Nervous System (CNS), help get rid of inflammation, and improve blood flow to muscles. You can get them all in powdered or capsule (or even some in liquid form) online or in your local health food or supplement store.