For Women Lifting Weights is Better Than Cardio

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If you want to lose body fat, gain confidence, increase bone density, and overall look amazing, you have to lift weights. I don’t care if you are a man or women.

Now I know what you are thinking. I am a guy who is an avid lifter and bodybuilder, so naturally I would recommend lifting weights to get in shape. So how do I know it works for women? Well, I have been a trainer for 13 years and the large majority of my clientele have been women. I have tried countless methods of training and I always circle back around to weights for women.

My wife is also a huge proponent of weight lifting and can’t stand cardio. We just had our second child just over a year ago and she is now in the best shape of her life. No, she didn’t diet hardcore and do a bunch of meaningless cardio. She just ate a little better and lifted lot’s of weights, often. Cardio was very secondary. No, she is not big either (about 135 pounds at 5 feet 8 inches tall). We will touch more on the “bulky” topic later.

Women lift weights


Related: The Leading Fat Burning Supplements For Women


The Experiment

As a trainer, I have always kept an open mind. It is important that trainers expand their “toolbox” for training. While I was engaging in many of the different training methods, such as Yoga, Pilates, and running, I noticed that my body composition would never change. As a trainer, I felt that it was very important that I try all of these methods of training, so I could relate to my clientele. If I didn’t try it, how could I knock it, right?

Now, don’t get me wrong. Yoga, Pilates, running and other forms of cardio all have their own benefits. Body composition changes just aren’t one of them.

I also noticed the same results when my clients would partake in these forms of exercise. My clients that were not lifting weights more that once per week and were engaging in these forms of exercise, just were not seeing the results that they needed from the other activities they were doing.

My women clients kept asking me how much cardio they should be doing in order to lose body fat. When my answer was no more cardio, they didn’t get it. So, I had to really educate them on why more cardio does not mean more fat loss. I would have them track their workouts by logging them for 2-weeks, or more. We would then analyze how much cardio they were doing in a week and then compare it to how much weight training they were doing. The cardio would win by a large margin. They also realized that this may be the reason why they are stuck with the same body even after working out so much. It was frustrating for all of us.

The bottom line is if you are running, on the bike, doing Yoga and occasional throwing around the light dumbbells, you will get minimal results in the fat loss, bone density, and “muscle tone” area.


Why lifting weights is so important 

More muscle equals more metabolism: The most important reason that you should be lifting weights is to lose fat and build muscle. The affect that lifting weights has on your body composition is profound. The more muscle a woman has, the more calories she will burn at rest. So basically, muscles speed up your metabolism, resulting in more effective fat loss.

Bone Health: If you are women in your 20’s and 30’s, you probably are not thinking about osteoporosis yet, but you should be. Many studies have shown that lifting weights regularly can increase bone density. Other forms of exercises just don’t cut it when you are trying to keep your bones strong and healthy. The only true way to do this is to lift heavy stuff and then put it back down. Be procative now, so you don’t have problems later.

Strong makes everything easier: I can’t stand it when men, or anyone else thinks that a women is not strong and can’t carry in the groceries, move furniture, or carry heavy shit. Give me a break. I am a big believer that women are independent and can do things themselves. They don’t need a guy to do everything for them. If you need to move something heavy, don’t call the neighbor guy, or wait for your hubby or boyfriend to come home. If you are lifting weights on the regular, you can do it yourself!

Creating independence for yourself is an amazing thing to feel. It always feels great when you accomplish a task that you thought you never could do. Lift some weights, get stronger, and get it done on your own.

Confidence: Walking into the gym knowing that you are going to crush a workout is such a confidence booster. In the past, women were left in the corner with the pink dumbbells, or in a group fitness class jumping up and down on a small step aerobics box. They were self-conscious and felt so out of place in the weight room. In today’s gym atmosphere, I have found that most women are much better at lifting weights than men. They work harder, push themselves to the limits and have better form.

When a woman realizes her outer strength, she can tap into her inner strength. and that begins to radiate. Confidence is a very attractive quality and that gym confidence starts to leak into every other aspect of life. A strong girl in the weight room  = a confident girl outside of the gym.

Ashley Horner


The bulky thing debunked 

The majority of women simply do not have the level of testosterone necessary to support a bulky physique. Furthermore, any women that does have a massively muscular physique us probably supplementing with with hormones. There are, of course exceptions. I don’t have any data to back this up, but if I had to guess, maybe 0.00001% of the female population are blessed to have the cocktail of hormones that naturally can induce large amounts of muscle mass and fat loss.

If it was that easy to gain muscle, no bodybuilder would complain about how they are not gaining muscle, every college frat guy would be huge, and defensive backs in football would get so huge they would turn into linebackers. Bottom line, even men with descent testosterone levels and above average genetics can not build muscle that easily.

Women often start out worried that they will get to bulky if they lift weights 2-4 days per week. They quickly find out that eating too much will make them look bulky. The reason is because we don’t train women to make them look too muscular. They are not supposed to do endless amounts of sets of isolation exercises and body part splits. We focus on full-body free weight training (squats, deadlifts, lunges, push-ups, pull-ups, rows and presses), kettlbells swings, Turkish Get-ups, loaded carries and metabolic conditioning finishers. We use a combination of compound, full-body movements as possible, to increase lean mass and decrease body fat.

Women lifting weights


Make sure the diet is in check

We know that in order for all of this training to be effective, you have to get your diet in order. This is something that we all can agree on. I have found that the best way to do this is reduce nutritional deficiencies, balance your macronutrients for your body type, pay attention to workout nutrition, increase food quality and don’t worry about meal frequency.

So eat high quality animal protein and lots of cruciferous vegetables, lot’s of healthy fats (avocadoes, extra virgin coconut oil, nuts) whenever your body needs it. Don’t eat when you are not hungry, drink a ton of water and minimal caloric beverages and chug a post workout shake or Branched Chain Amino Acids before and after your workout.

Oh yea, don’t marry yourself to one method of eating (Paleo, low-carb, vegan, etc.). It will just limit your ability to choose foods and piss you off. Just combine them, since they all worked when used properly.


The workout program

 Now that you have an understanding to why lifting weights is so important, let’s take a look at a 3 day a week program for someone looking to start a solid strength training program. There will be NO 3-pound pink dumbbells and endless hours on the Elliptical. This is a true weight-training program that gets the job done, ladies.

(Make sure to perform a proper dynamic warm-up that includes foam rolling, dynamic mobility, core work, medicine ball throws and plyometrics. This should be brief, yet effective and only last 10-15 minutes. )


Day 1

 Goblet squats: 8 reps

Push-ups: 8 reps

Kettlebell Swings: 15-20 reps

1-Arm dumbbell row: 8 reps each side

*Perform these in a circuit fashion for 3-5 rounds. Rest as minimal as possible.

Finisher – Perform a Farmers Walk for 3-5 minutes straight. Put the weights down as minimal as possible. Pick a weight that you can carry for 50 meters


Day 2

 Deadlifts: 6-8 reps

Assisted Chin-ups: 6-8 reps

Dumbbells Push Press: 6-8 reps

*Perform these in a circuit fashion for 3-5 rounds. Rest as minimal as possible.

Finisher – Burpees: Perform 8 rounds of 30 seconds on, and 30-seconds off. Try and match your previous rounds rep number each round.


Day 3

Inverted Row (TRX Row): 10-12 reps

Walking Lunges: 8 reps each leg

Dumbbell Chest Press: 10-12 reps

Single Leg Deadlift: 8 reps

*Perform these in a circuit fashion for 3-5 rounds. Rest as minimal as possible.

Finisher – Perform your favorite cardio exercise as hard as you can for 10 minutes. You can break it up into intervals if you need to.