“I don’t want to work out with a barbell” is a common excuse I hear all too often from women looking to get fit and get healthy. The most popular myth about weightlifting is that women think they will get “big” or “bulky” and start “looking like a man” if they lift weights. Unfortunately, what’s been the alternative to lifting weights for most women, has been participating in extreme weight-loss challenges and excessive exercise programs hoping to reach their goals that way instead. Only to find themselves back where they started or even worse than where they started the last time.
One of the major reasons why I decided to try weight-lifting in the form of barbell training is because nothing I was doing up until then was working to get me to my goals. I was constantly dealing with lower back issues and knee pain but doing yoga and months/ years of physical therapy wasn’t providing any relief. I just wanted to have a life without pain. I wasn’t really overweight per say – I mean is 20 pounds overweight considered overweight anymore? Most people will just explain that away as being “big-boned” or “sturdy”. It was through weight-lifting that I realized that a healthy body isn’t about the number on the scale but rather what makes up that number – your body composition. The percentage of fat to muscle ratio on your body says everything about your cardiovascular health, your endurance, your energy levels, how your clothes look/feel and yes, what the scale says. A person with a higher ratio of muscle to overall body-weight is going to weight more than someone with a lower muscle ratio for the same body-weight, but guess which person is going to be affected by the number on the scale more? That’s right, the latter because fat takes up more volume than muscle does and that’s what we are always tugging at and wishing away – am I right? I mean, no one will tug at their bicep muscle and say they wish it was smaller . . .
Ladies (and dudes too!), I want to share with you a few reasons why working out with a barbell for weight-training is going to benefit you more in the long run than taking supplements, starving yourself and/ or running until your knees pop off.
 Weight training keeps your bones strong and healthy. Your bones need to stay challenged, just like your brain needs exercise to stay sharp. With that being said, tossing around 2 pound weights for 3 sets of 15 every time you saddle-up at the gym, just isn’t going to cut it. You have to keep yourself challenged. The more fit your get, the more you need to increase the intensity of your workout. This can be done with more weight, doing the workout faster or for a longer period of time. After about age 30, we start to lose bone density at a small percentage each year. Keep in mind, women make up 80 per cent of osteoporosis cases as they lose bone mass.
 Weight training staves off disease. Type 2 diabetes, and “all the classic chronic diseases” including cancer aren’t as likely with any form of activity, from strength training to cardio. “A lot of the relationships with aerobic fitness are strongly tied to and mirrored in people’s strength. The stronger you are, the more resilient you are against disease and overall risk for mortality,”
 Weight training boosts metabolism and fat loss. Since muscle mass is an active tissue, the more muscle mass you have, the more calories you can burn at rest. Fortunately, womens’ hormones do not allow for women to increase their muscle mass at the same rate men do so that fear of “getting too big” is really a bunch of who-ha. Also, inherently women will carry more fat than men because our fat is the stored energy our body uses to procreate – whether we decide to use those amenities or not.
 Weight training regulates insulin and lowers inflammation. Along with keeping away chronic disease, strength training has you burning through glucose, which is good news for those grappling with Type 2 diabetes who consistently need to manage blood sugar levels. Lifting weights even aids in fighting off inflammation, a marker tied to many diseases. Studies have suggested that regular resistance training sessions, about twice a week, resulted in drops in inflammation in overweight women. And what causes pain as we get older as well? Inflammation.
 Weight training improved posture, sleep, mood and energy levels.
 Weight training improved strength and endurance. As you train, your body grows stronger and the effects will ricochet into other aspects of your physical activity. If your legs get stronger, then the amount of time you can spend on a walking challenge, on a treadmill, on a hike, will be longer. Even very good runners who do weight training actually improve their running efficiency – they’re able to run at the same speed while using a lower capacity of their leg strength.
 Weight training improves balance and reduces the risk of falls. Strength training, even in the elderly, provides better balance and strengthens your legs. You are never too old to start using weight training to your benefit!
 Weight training improves confidence. I can honestly say that not only has weight training improved my physical health, but my emotional and mental health as well. I’ve become more aware of my body, it’s capabilities and I am no longer plagued with phantom injuries that everyone just told me to chalk up to old age. I’m 41 now and don’t plan on getting old for a while. How about you?