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Weight Training Isn't Just for Men Anymore

Many women cringe at the thought of weightlifting, imagining themselves with a bulging, masculine figure. Nonetheless, resistance exercises are becoming more popular with women as they realize the benefits: increased lean body mass, decreased body fat and increased calories burned.

While a good deal of research has been done on the effects of weightlifting in men, fewer studies have addressed women, who have less muscle mass and lift lighter weights than men. In particular, little research has been done on excess postexercise oxygen consumption (EPOC), an indicator of total calories burned, in women who lift weights.

A study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise determined the effects in women of 45 minutes of resistance exercises on EPOC and calories burned during the two hours following exercise. Ten women, aged 24-34, who occasionally exercised were observed for energy expenditure before, during and for two hours after exercise.

After weight training, more calories were burned for at least one hour than were normally burned during rest. The experiment showed that fat burning was “significantly elevated” during the last half-hour of the two-hour recovery period following exercises, compared to fat burning following rest. Also, although the total calories burned were not much different than normal during the final half-hour of recovery, 79% more fat was burned after exercise than after rest.

These findings suggest that weight training can increase the number of calories burned even after you’re done lifting weights. On top of that, these extra calories burned are primarily fat stores, as opposed to carbohydrates in the body. So don’t be afraid of lifting weights! Your body will thank you for it.

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Reference: Binzen CA, Swan PD, Manore MM. Postexercise oxygen consumption and substrate use after resistance exercise in women. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise 2001:33(6), pp 932-938.