To invoke the naysayers: muscle mass isn’t feminine. Beware of bulking up! Women are the weaker sex. You could hurt yourself! Given these familiar associations with women and weight training, it’s no surprise that many women still live by the belief that they shouldn’t lift. We’re here to debunk that myth once and for all and offer the top 5 reasons ladies should add strength training to their regular gym routines.

Turn Heads Celebrities like Cameron Diaz, Juliana Margulies, and Jessica Biel are ushering in a new era of toned women in the spotlight, role models for a new generation of fitness-savvy women. If you’ve bought into the fear surrounding female lifting, its time to reconsider, especially now that summer and its requisite sleeveless tops are fast approaching.

Improve Your Mood The benefits of lifting aren’t just skin deep, however. Cardio is often prescribed to alleviate depression, anxiety, or just general irritability, but recent studies also link weight-bearing exercise to improved mood. Plus, strength training can have positive effects on self-image and overall confidence as well. According to a review published by the University of New Mexico, “resistance training has been shown to improve self-esteem in healthy younger and older adults as well in cancer, cardiac rehabilitation and depression patient populations”. Lift yourself out of a bad mood—literally.

Protect Your Bones and Boost Metabolism Strong is sexy. And lifting doesn’t just affect muscle mass, it can have a positive impact on bone health, too. According to a review in the Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, resistance training “has the added benefit of influencing multiple risk factors for osteoporosis including improved strength and balance and increased muscle mass”. In addition to supporting bone health, lifting also increases metabolism. Post-training, you’ll burn more calories as your muscles work to recover from a workout, even during rest.    While the immediate effects of lifting are certainly compelling enough, weight training has many additional long-term benefits. How often is your television watching or magazine flipping interrupted by ads for anti-depressants, blood pressure medications, osteoporosis treatments, and stories of women’s declining overall health? Weight training can be useful in treating acute issues, but also serves as a powerful preventative measure. Therefore it’s essential for both men and women to maintain a strength training routine as they age.

Burn Fat and Live Longer Lifting has also been shown to lower risk of heart disease, which has held rank among the leading killers of women in recent years. The Standard American Diet (or SAD) puts a large portion of the population at risk for not only heart disease, but for cancer and obesity as well. Combined with a healthy diet, lifting can help reduce your risk. Plus, the fat-burning benefits of strength training will support a steady weight through the decades.

Preserve Your Memory Finally, consistent training has been shown to boost cognitive function, increase our ever-shortening attention spans, and aid memory. After all, the brain is a muscle. Work it out!
Forget whatever bad press female lifting has gotten in the past, and pick up a pair of weights ASAP. Your heart, bones, metabolism and brain will thank you!