Fact: Most women want to lose fat and those who don’t say it outright say that they want to get “toned.” If you’re reading this right now, you’re probably one of them.

I’ve spent over 10 years in the fitness industry and I’ve watched women try to reach this goal doing all the wrong things in the gym, all the while avoiding the one thing that could really make it happen: lifting weights.

You might worry that lifting weights will cause you to “bulk up.” Don’t. Women’s hormones make this almost impossible without incredible effort going into planning workouts and nutrition. Lifting weights two to three times a week will help you lose that bit of flab hanging over your pants faster than an hour on the elliptical every day.

Why? There are a few reasons. I was recently at a course in which the instructor compared doing cardio in order to lose fat to “working for minimum wage.” Rather than playing a numbers game and trying to burn off more calories than you eat on a piece of cardio equipment (elliptical, bike, treadmill, etc.), why not build a body that burns more calories all of the time? Muscle is metabolically active tissue; fat just takes up space. In addition, muscle helps regulate the hormonal response to food every single time you take a bite so it’s less likely that you’ll store extra calories as fat. And don’t forget: muscle is firm and gives your body a sculpted appearance, but there’s one more piece to the puzzle.

To build muscle, you have to work with weight that is appropriately challenging. Two- and three-pound dumbbells don’t cut it for most exercises. Use weights that require a degree of exertion and concentration throughout the set and you’re on your way there.

 

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