The Benefits of Weight Lifting for Women (2022)

Maintaining adequate muscle mass is one of the best ways to keep body fat in a healthy range and to improve overall fitness, particularly as you age. Resistance exercise such as lifting weights is the best way to build muscle. Still, the number of women who participate in any formal or consistent weight training workout is lower than it should be.

Some women who exercise spend much of their gym time on cardiovascular exercise. But no matter your fitness goals, strength training is important. Learn more about what weight lifting can do for you and how to get started.

Benefits of Weight Lifting for Women

Weight lifting can be rewarding for many reasons, and its advantages are available to people of all genders. Pursuing a regular weight-training routine can change your body and your brain.

Improved Strength

Weight lifting strengthens your muscles. When you are stronger, daily tasks and routine exercise will be less fatiguing and much less likely to cause injury. Improving your muscle mass and strength increases bodily function and life satisfaction.

Lower Body Fat

Studies performed by Wayne Westcott, PhD, from the South Shore YMCA in Quincy, Massachusetts, found that the average woman who strength-trains two to three times a week for two months will gain nearly two pounds of muscle and will lose 3.5 pounds of fat. As lean muscle increases, so does resting metabolism, allowing you to burn more calories throughout the day.

Women typically don't develop big muscles from strength training because, compared to men, women have significantly less of the hormones that cause muscle growth, or hypertrophy. Weight training does not make you bulky.

RMR: What Is Resting Metabolic Rate?

(Video) Benefits of strength training for women: Mayo Clinic Radio

Improved Athletic Performance

Strength training improves athletic ability. Golfers can significantly increase their driving power. Cyclists are able to ride for longer periods of time with less fatigue. Skiers improve technique and reduce injury.

Whatever sport you play, strength training can improve overall performance as well as reduce the risk of injury.

Less Back Pain, Injury, and Arthritis

Strength training not only builds stronger muscles but also strengthens connective tissues and increases joint stability. This acts as reinforcement for the joints and helps prevent injury.

Strengthening the gluteal muscles can help in eliminating or alleviating low-back and knee pain. Weight training can strengthen joints and ease the pain of osteoarthritis.

Lower Risk of Certain Diseases

Weight training can improve cardiovascular health in several ways, including lowering LDL ("bad") cholesterol, increasing HDL ("good") cholesterol, and lowering blood pressure. Adding cardiovascular exercise to your workout routine helps maximize these benefits.

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Weight training can increase spinal bone mineral density and enhance bone modeling. This, coupled with an adequate amount of dietary calcium, can be the best defense against osteoporosis (women are at higher risk of osteoporosis than men).

Lastly, weight training may improve the way the body processes sugar, which may reduce the risk of diabetes. Type 2 diabetes (sometimes known as "adult-onset" diabetes) is a problem for people of all genders and can be associated with excess weight.

Better Mood and Increased Confidence

Strength training (and exercise in general) decreases depression because the act of exercise produces mood-improving neurotransmitters such as endorphins, dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin.

Plus, women who strength train report feeling more confident and capable as a result of their program. These are important factors in fighting depression.

How Much Weight Training Do Women Need?

The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommend at least two days per week of resistance training that works every major muscle group. However, you can gain additional benefits with more training days. Just remember that recovery time is essential; rest for 24 to 48 hours between heavily training a particular muscle group to allow for muscle repair.

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The guidelines also advise adding at least 150 minutes of moderate cardiovascular exercise, 75 minutes of more vigorous exercise, or a combination of the two,. Cardiovascular activity improves heart health and helps with energy balance (that is, creating a calorie deficit if you hope to lose weight).

How to Get Started

Where you start with weight training depends on your current experience and fitness level. If you haven't done much strength training before, it can help to seek guidance from a personal trainer so you can learn proper form. This can help prevent injuries.

Once you build some basic skills, you can move on to a regular weight training routine using bodyweight, weights, or a combination. If you aren't interested in going to a gym, you can still get a good weight lifting workout at home with basic equipment including dumbbells or kettlebells.

Try starting with one set of 6 to 8 repetitions of a few different exercises targeting each muscle group. Focus on compound movements such as the squat, deadlift, bench press or push-up row, and shoulder press.

Practice with an empty bar, broomstick, or lighter dumbbells until the correct form and movement patterns become second nature. Then add more sets and repetitions. Gradually, but consistently, increase weight, repetitions, sets, or all of these in order to make progress.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many repetitions should women do when lifting weights?

Perform a number of repetitions that sufficiently challenge your muscles. This can range widely, from 1 to 3 reps to 15 to 20, depending on the type of workout you are doing, the weight you are lifting, and the muscles you are working on.

For instance, if you are working on building strength, choosing heavy weights with low repetitions—2 to 5, or even fewer—is ideal. If you are performing an exercise with a small muscle, such as a lateral shoulder raise, you will need to use lighter weights and increase the number of reps.

How much weight should women lift?

The amount of weight you should lift will change as you progress. The weight you lift should challenge you by the last few reps, or even with each rep if you are training with very heavy weights. Each time you train, you can try to increase the weight lifted from the last session. This is one way of ensuring you progress in your strength training goals and continue to see results.

What muscle groups should women target when lifting weights?

Women should target every muscle group during their weight lifting. However, you can separate the muscle groups you target with each training session, focusing on the legs one day, the chest and shoulders the next, and so on. During a week, you should target your entire body using every major muscle group.

How can women avoid bulking up when lifting weights?

Women are unlikely to become bulky when lifting weights unless they purposefully try to. The act of gaining substantial muscle is challenging even for men who can build muscle more quickly and easily due to greater testosterone and other factors. How large your muscles grow and how quickly will come down to many factors, including genetics, nutrition, and training.

A Word From Verywell

It's never too late to benefit from weight training. Women in their 70s and 80s have built up significant strength through weight training and studies show that strength improvements are possible at any age. It is vital for women to develop and maintain strength as they age to prevent injury and stave off bone loss and osteoporosis.

Strength training not only strengthens muscles, but also the bones that support the muscles. Note, however, that a strength training professional should always supervise older participants.

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FAQs

The Benefits of Weight Lifting for Women? ›

6 Benefits of Weight Training for Women
  • 1) Improved fat loss. When lifting weights, you build lean muscle. ...
  • 2) Enhance your mood and reduce stress. ...
  • 3) Gain strength without bulking. ...
  • 4) Reduce your risk of injury, back pain and arthritis. ...
  • 5) Improve your athletic performance. ...
  • 6) Reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes.

What does weightlifting do to a woman's body? ›

Resistance training improves strength in key areas like the core, legs, lower back and upper body. Improves heart health – According to the Mayo Clinic, heart disease is the leading cause of death for women. Exercising regularly can reduce the risk of heart disease in women.

How often should a woman weight lift? ›

You need to be hitting the weights at least three days per week. The research says that at the very least, training a minimum of two days per week is needed to maximize muscle growth.
...
Strength training.
Training levelDays of training
Beginner2 to 3 days per week of strength training (full-body each session)
2 more rows

Why women must lift weights? ›

Reduces many chronic diseases and stress

Weightlifting improves cardiovascular health in several ways. It lowers cholesterol, heart diseases, blood pressure and reduces the risk of diabetes. It keeps you fit and healthy, promotes bone density, increases spinal bone mineral density, and enhances bone modeling.

How does your body change when you start lifting weights? ›

By stressing your bones, strength training can increase bone density and reduce the risk of osteoporosis. Manage your weight. Strength training can help you manage or lose weight, and it can increase your metabolism to help you burn more calories. Enhance your quality of life.

Does weight training change your body shape? ›

Not only does gaining muscle mass help you burn more calories at rest, but it also gives your body shape and definition. In the end, that's what many women are really after-whether they know it or not-not just losing fat, but replacing it with shapely muscle.

How long does it take for a woman to see results from weight lifting? ›

Building muscle won't happen overnight, but consistent strength training combined with balanced nutrition, you can start to see results in up to 12 weeks.

How long does it take to see results from weight lifting? ›

How long it takes to build muscle and see results. Gaining muscle is a slow process. It can take about three to four weeks to see a visible change. You'll see some real results after 12 weeks, but it "all depends on your goals, and what type of strength training you are doing," says Haroldsdottir.

How long does it take to build noticeable muscle for females? ›

The answer: Depending on how often you exercise and the intensity of your workouts, give it between four to eight weeks for your muscles to get ripped, says Kawamoto.

Can a woman lose weight by lifting weights? ›

Weightlifting is beneficial for women at any age and will not make you bulky. Rather, it can help create a lean, stronger look. It helps you build strength and muscle and reduces your risk of chronic diseases, and it can promote weight loss.

What happens when a woman lift heavy weights? ›

Building muscle can increase your resting metabolic rate and enable your body to keep burning calories even when you're not training. It improves libido: One surprising benefit that lifting heavy can have for many women is that it can increase their libido because heavy lifting naturally elevates testosterone.

Is weight lifting or cardio better? ›

A cardio workout burns more calories than a weight-training workout. However, your metabolism may stay elevated for longer after weights than cardio, and weight lifting is better for building muscle. Thus, the ideal exercise program for improving body composition and health includes cardio and weights.

How weight lifting changes your face? ›

As Warner mentioned, resistance training can further boost your skin's youthful appearance since it increases the production of growth hormone. This handy hormone is produced by the pituitary gland in your brain, and some studies show that it can aid cell repair, says Bank.

How should a woman start lifting weights? ›

Weight lifting tips for beginners
  1. Warm up. ...
  2. Start with lighter weights. ...
  3. Gradually increase the weight. ...
  4. Rest for at least 60 seconds in between sets. ...
  5. Limit your workout to no longer than 45 minutes. ...
  6. Gently stretch your muscles after your workout. ...
  7. Rest a day or two in between workouts.

Can you lose body fat by lifting weights? ›

Lifting weights has a unique weight loss advantage that makes it superior to other forms of exercise for weight loss: When you lift weights, you build muscle and lose fat.

What should I eat to lose weight while lifting weights? ›

Minimally processed foods are the best for sports and weight lifting nutrition. Lean protein, complex carbs and fiber are your best friends, especially if you're trying to lose weight. Your body needs lean protein such as turkey, nonfat Greek yogurt, fish and egg whites to build muscle and stay full.

Does lifting weights make your arms slimmer? ›

Start Lifting Weights

While it may not cause fat loss in your arms specifically, it can help increase overall fat loss and tone your arms to help them look slimmer.

What is the best exercise to change body shape? ›

Follow the below 7 Simple Exercises Transform Your Body Shape
  • *Each sets with count of 8-16 reps.
  • Push ups. Pushups are one of the most basic yet effective body weight moves you can perform because of the number of muscles that are recruited to perform them. ...
  • The Burpee. ...
  • The Squats. ...
  • Situps. ...
  • The plank.
Jan 23, 2020

What happens after 1 month of weight training? ›

“There will not be a huge change in weight loss or muscle gain in one month, but that shouldn't discourage anyone,” he writes. “It's a slow process but the benefits are worth it,” adding that most people can expect to gain around 1-2 pounds of muscle, max, per month.

How do you tell if you are toning up? ›

In the first weeks and months of a new workout, though, the signs will be so subtle that you might miss them.
  1. Increased Mobility. One of the first signs of muscle toning is an improvement in mobility, particularly if you're new to exercise. ...
  2. Longer, More Intense Workouts. ...
  3. Muscle Soreness. ...
  4. Weight Changes.
Apr 18, 2018

What will happen if I workout everyday for a month? ›

Working out every day for a month can enable you to lose about 4.5 lbs., although the exact weight loss will depend on the type of workout and your weight. A well-rounded workout consists of aerobic activity, which you can do for one hour each day, and two days of strength training each week.

Why does lifting weights make me feel so good? ›

It's all thanks to endorphins, your feel-good chemicals released to ease your body during the physical strain of weightlifting.

What happens if u lift weights everyday? ›

Lifting weights every day can support your weight-loss goals by helping you burn calories and reducing overall body fat. Although you can't spot-reduce specific areas, like your belly, strength training promotes body fat loss by building lean muscle and increasing your metabolic rate.

How many reps should I do when lifting weights? ›

The American College of Sports Medicine recommends 4 to 6 repetitions with heavier weight for hypertrophy (increased muscle size), 8 to 12 repetitions for muscular strength and 10 to 15 reps for muscular endurance.

How long does it take to tone arms female? ›

If you train your arms at least two times per week AND improve your nutrition, you can see significant improvement in your upper arm development in as little as 6 weeks. The less excess body fat you have, the quicker you will be able to tone your arms.

How do I know if Im gaining muscle or fat? ›

When you gain muscle, you'll notice that your muscles naturally look more defined and are more visible, Berkow said. (To see your abs specifically, you'd have to also lose fat.) Your muscles would also be larger in size or feel "harder." If you gain fat, you'll notice more softness, she said, and you'll gain inches.

What is the ideal muscle mass for a woman? ›

Muscle mass percentage averages for women
AgeMuscle mass percentage
18–3531–33
36–5529–31
56–7527–30
76–85< 26
Jul 8, 2019

What should a woman do at the gym to lose weight? ›

Lifting weights, eating in a calorie deficit, and doing 30 minutes of cardio 2-3 days per week are your best bets for seeing results. You should also prioritize protein as much as possible and increase your NEAT throughout the day to accelerate your fat loss.

Does lifting dumbbells burn belly fat? ›

Full-body compound weight lifting is one of the best ways to build muscle mass. Because muscle tissue has a higher metabolic rate than fat, it burns three times more calories than fat, even after you finish working out. As a result, lifting weights will help you burn body fat, including your stubborn belly fat.

Can a woman lose weight by lifting weights? ›

Weightlifting is beneficial for women at any age and will not make you bulky. Rather, it can help create a lean, stronger look. It helps you build strength and muscle and reduces your risk of chronic diseases, and it can promote weight loss.

Does weightlifting affect uterus? ›

Long-term or repeated heavy lifting as a female can actually cause what is called a uterine prolapse. A uterine prolapse is when the pelvic floor muscles are weakened, which support the uterus, and the uterus descends downward.

Videos

1. Cardio vs. strength training: What you need to know
(MD Anderson Cancer Center)
2. Cardio VS. Weights: Which is better for fat loss?
(Precision Nutrition)
3. Jessie Hilgenberg's 6 Reasons Women Should Lift - Bodybuilding.com
(Bodybuilding.com)
4. Why women should lift and weight train for a stronger body
(Cityline)
5. 5 Reasons Why Women Should Lift Weights (MAJOR BENEFITS!!)
(Athlean-XX for Women)
6. Why Women Should Lift Weights 💪 | Lose Weight, Tone Up | Joanna Soh
(Joanna Soh Official)

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