Weight training is a type of exercise that uses weights to build muscle and burn calories. Gravity provides the resistance for this. The equipment needed is free weights such as barbells or machine weights. Machine weights are more expensive but can be safer because the weights are stacked and drop back on themselves and not on the people using them.
Women often avoid weight training because they think it will give them bulky muscles and they will begin to look like men. This is a misconception. The muscle structure for both men and women is basically the same, but the way they react to weight training is different because of testosterone levels. Men and women both have testosterone in their bodies, but men have much higher levels.
Testosterone in Men
Testosterone is a male sex hormone. It is an anabolic steroid because it encourages the retention of protein in the muscles and will bulk up body tissues. This causes men’s muscles to react to weight training by growing larger and stronger.
Testosterone in Women
The lower level of testosterone in women prevents hypertrophy and therefore muscles do not grow large during weight training. Women tend to increase the lean muscle mass that stays small and compact with weight training.
Some women believe that weight training is for men and cardiovascular workouts are for women. While cardiovascular exercises are excellent for overall fitness and stamina, weight training is best for burning calories. Weight training will increase the ratio of lean to fat muscle mass and this will help burn more calories every day.
After a weight training workout, the metabolism remains elevated for 12 to 24 hours. This elevated metabolism continues to burn calories, and this benefit is not there after cardiovascular exercises unless it is extremely intense with both low-intensity and high-intensity intervals.
For men and women weight training increases the adenosine triphosphate, creatine phosphate and glycogen concentration. The amount of change will vary according to the intensity of the training. The two kinds of changes in the muscles caused by weight training are neurogenic and myogenic.
- Neurogenic changes are changes that occur to the connecting tissue between the nerve and muscle. This means that gradually both men and women develop more effective and efficient gross movement patterns.
- Myogenic changes are within the structure of the muscle and are much more evident in men.
Weight training also improves the efficiency that the body uses sugar which lowers the risk of developing diabetes. For people with normal or borderline hypertension weight training can reduce blood pressure which lowers the risk of coronary heart disease and stroke.
Weight training is a good way to burn calories and lose weight. Whether the muscles get large and bulky is up to the individual man, but women will become lean and sleek.