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Weight Training for Women: How It Works

ome women worry that weight training may give them bunchy, unfeminine muscles, but the fact is that weight training tends to make us lose weight, gain strength and tone up in unprecedented ways.

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By working out two or three times a week with weights, women can lose 3.5 pounds of fat and put on 1.75 pounds of muscle. Although your scale will show a loss of 1.75 pounds per week, you'll immediately notice that your clothes are fitting better—or maybe even falling off! Muscle weighs more than fat, so even the muscle you gain will take up less space than the fat you lose. And you'll look toned, nut bulky: the hormones that create bunchy muscles in men are present in women, but in numbers between ten and thirty times less than in men. So, women don't need to worry about becoming hulks, even when they train hard. Isn't that wonderful!

Aside from looking wonderful, the muscle you gain from strength training will make your body burn calories faster. It's a win-win situation, as for each pound of muscle you put on will burn another 35 or 40 calories per day. If you gain five pounds in muscle (and then you will also have lost about ten pounds in fat!), you'll be burning another 175 calories a day, which will come out to 5,250 calories per month, which means your body will be burning another 1.5 pounds of fat per month without you're having to increase your exercise or reduce your eating. After a year, you will have lost another eighteen pounds of fat just because your metabolism will have increased.

But you don't have to train hard to realize the benefits of weight or strength training. With two or three times per week, you can drastically cut your chances of heart disease, diabetes and osteoporosis. Senior citizens centers and homes are hiring strength training instructors to work even with the extremely aged. Even elderly people in wheelchairs can do strength training, and increased strength results in fewer falls, which are the leading causes of death among the fragile old. Even younger seniors are weight training, because so far, strength training is the only known way to increase your bone density. You can increase your spinal bone density by nearly 15% in six months of weight training, which will help prevent osteoporosis. Keep in mind that it's never too late to start weight training.

At any age, women become stronger fast with weight training. You can increase your strength by 30-50%, which makes a big difference in your energy levels and your ability to resist muscle strains when you do take on bigger physical challenges. If you're losing energy, try some weight lifting: you may find that you don't feel as tired. Another benefit of weight training is that it reduces back pain and pain from arthritis. Strengthening your lower back can have a huge impact on keeping you free of pain, since many other aches throughout the body stem from back pain. A strong back also means fewer chances of injury, whether you're doing housework, playing basketball or dancing all night.

Finally, strength training has been shown to positively impact depression. Lifting weights contributes to your mental well-being on two levels. Exercise increases the levels of neurotransmitters in your brain, which add to feelings of well-being. Exercise also makes you feel more competent and capable—something we all need from time to time!

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