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Why Women Shouldn't Fear the Weights

Weight training is what will shape and change your body, not endless hours of cardio.

To this day it is a struggle for women to comprehend that they don't need hours of cardio to get in shape. Those hours will indeed improve your cardiovascular fitness, improve function and impact your health. But, it's not giving you great arms, a flat stomach or legs that are strong with great muscle tone. That's what those weights are for!

You Won't Look Like a Man

Many women have a fear of weight training because they think they will look manly. They look at female bodybuilders and believe that anything over a 5-pound dumbbell will give them massive shoulders and thick thighs. Uh-uh, that's not how it works. Female, and male, bodybuilders have spent years building their physiques in a very specific way. They've monitored their nutrition and training so closely that they are sometimes adjusting things daily and weekly. Everything is under the microscope in order to achieve a look. So, no, you're not going to look like a man.

What It Can Do

Regular weight training—sessions where you challenge yourself—will shape your body. It can give you shapely arms, a flat stomach, lifted buttocks and great legs. To make those changes, your sessions need to push your body. Doing 1,000 crunches may make you sore, but it's obviously a little too easy for you.

For example, say you are doing two to three sets of 12-15 repetitions per exercise. Choose a weight that makes it hard to finish all of your reps. If you feel like you can do a few more, it's too light. Increase the weight just a little on your next set.

You also want to train each muscle two to three times per week. You can do full-body workouts on non-consecutive days like Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Or you can split it up into upper and lower body—doing each twice in a week. Just don't train the same muscle group two days in a row. Give your body a chance to rest and recover.

Impact Your Health

Osteoporosis is a serious concern for women and men. Your bones become less dense as you age naturally, but osteoporosis increases your risk of breaks and debilitating pain. Weight training can help make your bones stronger. As your muscles pull against your limbs, it stimulates bones. They can become stronger, and help you avoid problems in the future.

Improved muscle mass also means that you burn more calories—even if you're just sitting on the couch. Muscle is an active tissue. It requires more energy and helps you burn fat. This, in turn, helps you achieve the look you desire, while also lowering your risk of disease.

[Image via Shutterstock]

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