A one-hour cardio workout is great when you are trying to lose weight, but when it comes to overall fitness, strength training will no doubt give you the best bang for your buck.
Sadly though, many women avoid lifting weights like the plague, out of fear that their feminine physique will be transformed to resemble that of The Hulk. However, experts will tell you that by skipping the weight room, you are missing out on the ultimate fat buster and that dumbells are a smart idea if you really want to define your shape.
"Women shy away from it because they say they don't want to get tough," said fitness expert Greg Dawkins. "Another reason they shy from it, is because they don't know how to do it. But once you get good advice, you will be able to do it properly."
Here are some reasons you should be doing strength training as a woman:
1. You burn calories even at rest. Muscles, unlike fat, are metabolically active, and so you burn weight even at rest. Yes, you might be able to sweat hard during a 30-minute cardio session, but by pumping iron you get the added benefit of losing weight with little effort. It's like your body is transformed into a fat busting machine that is in action 24/7.
2. You reduce risk of osteoporosis. Women are far more susceptible to developing osteoporosis which results from the lowering of bone density. Resistance or strength training is a woman's best defence to counteract this issue, which leads to brittle bones. Bone mass generally starts to decline after age 40, but strength training will help to keep bones stronger even through menopause.
3. You will become stronger and more defined. Despite popular belief, women don't generally bulk up by lifting weights because of their low testosterone levels. You also get the added benefit of defining your figure by toning your arms and you glutes and lifting your butt.
4. It lowers risk of heart disease. Your risk of heart disease is lowered when your body is lean. That's because resistance training helps to stabilise blood pressure levels and helps you lose visceral fat which is the most dangerous type of fat when it comes to cardiovascular health.
5. You will feel empowered. Being able to pump iron that weighs almost the same amount as yourself will help to give you an ego boost like nothing else, especially if you are the one the males at your gym look to for tips on weight lifting.
6. Your clothes will fit better. One pound of fat takes up 18 per cent more space than one pound of muscle. So as someone who is muscular, you would be able to fit into your clothes much better than someone who weighs probably less than you, but has a lot of body fat.