Three Benefits of Weight Lifting Specific to Women

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Quote: They said I should learn how to iron. So I did.

Regular exercise offers so many advantages that everyone, men and women, can gain. There are many health benefits and obvious social benefits that men gain from weight lifting but did you know that there are benefits of weight lifting that are specific to women? Here are three of the most important:

1. Confidence 

How lifting weights is beneficial to women
photo credit: https://www.wellandgood.com/good-sweat/strength-training-heavy-weight-low-reps/slide/2/

First off, and the biggest, most important one in my opinion, is self-confidence. The confidence that weight lifting gives you makes it all so worth it. All exercise, including weight lifting, will give you a temporary hit of endorphins which give you an instant confidence boost. 

While you can get endorphins from any physical activity, you get an extra confidence boost from weight lifting in the form of testosterone [1]. Now before you stop reading because you can’t bear to become “manly” from testosterone, you won’t, hear me out.

All women have low levels of testosterone naturally. The small amount of testosterone present in women’s bodies and the amount that you can change it by lifting weights is not nearly enough to make you grow a beard or chest hair, etc. Small increases in testosterone, however, have been shown in studies to increase self-confidence [2].  

On top of the physiologic confidence from changing hormone levels, weight lifting gives you a more long-term sense of confidence that comes from setting goals and making consistent incremental progress towards them over time.

In all these ways, resistance training for women can kick your confidence up a couple notches. Who wouldn’t want that?

Want to learn how to minimize the confidence-draining effects of PMS hormones? Check out my post on 9 Natural Ways to Minimize PMS Symptoms.

2. Weight Control

The second benefit of weight lifting for women is weight control. Weight lifting has significant effect on maintaining a healthy body weight as muscle is metabolically active tissue, meaning it will continue to burn more calories for you even when you aren’t actively lifting weight. 

While both men and women have significant problems with obesity in our society, many studies have shown much more negative effects of obesity in women, even at lower BMIs [3].

Women seem to perceive themselves as worse-off, even at lower levels of obesity, and therefore both have higher levels of depression as well as avoid or delay other healthy activities such as regular medical care and healthy eating. Regular weight training can help with weight control and the particularly negative effects of obesity on women.

If you’d like to read more about how weight lifting can help you lose weight faster, check out this post here.

3. Bone strength

Prevent hip fractures in women by weight lifting
photo credit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hip_fracture#/media/File:Cdm_hip_fracture_343.jpg

Bone strength is a major health problem for women specifically. We tend to build the vast majority of our bone mass between the ages of 13-20 and then we maintain that bone mass well into our 20s. However, after age 30, bone density (bone strength) tends to start declining. This happens at a much higher rate in women than in men. 

Then, after menopause, when estrogen begins to decline significantly, bone density drops precipitously along with it [4]. Men obviously avoid this steep drop. Of those diagnosed with osteoporosis, 80% are women [5]. 

This loss of bone strength can actually be life threatening.  Studies have shown that of those over age 50, 25% of people die within one year after a hip fracture and 75% of people die within 7 years after a hip fracture [6]. That number is HUGE!!! People don’t die from the fracture itself but after the fracture, there is a huge inflammatory response, causing a very large burden on the heart, in addition to the risks of surgery to fix the bone, risks of hospital-acquired infections, decreased ability to care for yourself, etc. All after a minor slip and fall on some water on the floor in the kitchen one day. 

Regular weight lifting and resistance training has been shown to maintain and can even increase bone density throughout life [7], helping to prevent bones breaking later in life and the catastrophic consequences of those events.

One of the best ways to build bone strength is by lifting heavy. Check out these posts on the best ways to perform your heavy lifts:
4 EASY WAYS TO MAKE YOUR DEADLIFT MORE FEMININE
4 EASY TIPS TO MAKE YOUR BENCH PRESS MORE FEMININE
4 EASY TIPS TO MAKE YOUR PULL UP MORE FEMININE

How lifting weights is beneficial to women kettlebells

While there are myriad other benefits that women can gain from weight lifting, these three are particularly important and specific to women. 

Check back often or sign up for my email list for weekly updates on tips related to weight training and proper nutrition for your most feminine life yet.

Dr. Elle, MD
Belle of the Barbell

Three benefits of weight lifting specific to women pinterest

References:

[1] Consitt, L. A., Copeland, J. L., & Tremblay, M. S. (2002). Endogenous anabolic hormone responses to endurance versus resistance exercise and training in women. Sports medicine (Auckland, N.Z.), 32(1), 1–22. https://doi.org/10.2165/00007256-200232010-00001

[2] Dalton PS, Ghosal S. Self-confidence, Overconfidence and Prenatal Testosterone Exposure: Evidence from the Lab. Front Behav Neurosci. 2018;12:5. Published 2018 Jan 30. doi:10.3389/fnbeh.2018.00005 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5797613/

[3] Pearl RL, Puhl RM. Weight bias internalization and health: a systematic review. Obes Rev 2018; 19: 1141–1163. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6103811/

[4] Moretto, M.R., Silva, C.C., Kurokawa, C.S., Fortes, C.M., Capela, R.C., Teixeira, A.S., et al. (2011). Bone Mineral Density in Healthy Female Adolescents According to Age, Bone Age, and Pubertal Breast Stage. Open Orthopaedics Journal; 5:324-330. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3178934/

[5] Wright, N.C., Looker, A.C., Saag, K.G., Curtis, J.R., Delzell, E.S., Randall, S., et al. (2014). The Recent Prevalence of Osteoporosis and Low Bone Mass in the United States Based on Bone Mineral Density at the Femoral Neck or Lumbar Spine. J Bone Miner Res; 29(11): 2520-2526. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4757905/

[6] Panula J, Pihlajamäki H, Mattila VM, et al. Mortality and cause of death in hip fracture patients aged 65 or older: a population-based study. BMC Musculoskelet Disord. 2011;12:105. Published 2011 May 20. doi:10.1186/1471-2474-12-105 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3118151/

[7] Hong AR, Kim SW. Effects of Resistance Exercise on Bone Health. Endocrinol Metab (Seoul). 2018;33(4):435–444. doi:10.3803/EnM.2018.33.4.435 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6279907/

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