Contrary to what you might think, lifting weights doesn't lead to gained weight (generally speaking). In fact, strength and resistance training will most definitely help you slim down and change the shape of your body.
Many women are scared to grab heavy dumbbells in class or at the gym for fear of looking bulky or muscular, but the truth is, over time, weight training can seriously impact weight loss — just as much if not more so than cardio can. In fact, there are weight-loss benefits beyond the scale. Here are some reasons to start lifting heavy — stat.
- It boosts your metabolism. When you lift weights or strength train, you gain more muscle. "Muscle uses more energy and thus burns more calories than fat," said Nicole Aurigemma, M.S. physiology at the Women's Health and Exercise Lab at Penn State. This also means you'll have "a slightly higher resting metabolic rate, meaning that your metabolism is increasing with training."
- You'll lose fat. Long-term resistance training "can lead to the decreases in adipose tissue (fat), which can also contribute to weight loss," Aurigemma said.
- It'll help you slim down. Trying to get that long, lean look? Weights can help. Have you ever seen a pound of muscle compared to a pound of fat? (Go on, google it.) It's MUCH leaner. Check out how Adrienne Osuna transformed her entire body and slimmed down with power lifting.
- It can change your shape. Trainer Tia Falcone, who helped Miss America 2013 lose over 50 pounds, said, "You're not going to change the shape of your body [with cardio], you're just going to be exactly like you are but you'll be a smaller version. All your flaws will be the same, everything will just be smaller." Want to change your shape? Lift weights.
- You'll burn more calories. Especially if you're using your legs — those muscle groups are calorie-burning powerhouses! Aurigemma said to "remember that protein synthesis is ramped up significantly four hours after your resistance exercise, and it's maintained up to 24 hours," meaning "you will continue to burn calories even after exercise."
Keep in mind that "weight loss" might not necessarily correlate to a number on a scale; you might look leaner and slimmer (like Adrienne), but the scale won't budge. That's OK! Judge your progress by how you look and feel (and how your clothes fit) vs. the scale to have a better indicator.