Walk into your local fitness center and you’re likely to see women everywhere. We are finally being encouraged to get into the world of fitness. We are applauded for our muscle-toned physiques and praised in a world previously known only to men. Fitness isn’t just for male counterparts. In 2007, the National Sporting Goods Association released a report that females represented 50 percent or more of participants in physical activities. (See the report here.) Hurray for ladies! But if you read beyond the first paragraph it isn’t much further until you see that the percentage of women participating in weight lifting is well below men, at 36 percent.

fitness woman powdering her hands before weight lifting

Why is it that women view weight lifting as a no-no? Is it so engrained in us that the moment we pick up a barbell we’re going to look like Arnold from 1975 flexing for the judges? Maybe we’re stuck with the images of unwanted mustaches and body hair. Or just maybe we aren’t as well educated in the benefits of weight lifting. All of those benefits we hope to gain in the gym can be attained through weight lifting. Here, 8 reasons you’re absolutely crazy not to lift weights:

Amazing Arms: Read, muscle definition. Those women with arms whose biceps and triceps give the curves you’re lusting after, that is from weight training. That is not from cardio. Sure, cardio burns some excess fat away from the muscle, but what if there’s no muscle left to define? You need to increase muscle mass to obtain that look. Check out 17 Free Weight Exercises for Toned Arms.

woman with toned arms holding a free weight

Bootylicious:  No woman has ever been known to pine for the mom-jean’s look. What we want is a tight, round backend that doesn’t jiggle from California to Maine with every step. Your muscles need the stress of tearing and repairing to build strength and size. Squat heavy and you’re sure to have the rear that other women are coveting. Check out 14 Exercises for the Perfect Bubble Butt.

strong woman doing a lunge with a kettlebell

Calorie Burn: Cardio junkies love to shout from the rooftops that they burned 500 calories during their last run. But that was during their run. Now? Nothing. Weight lifting is a constant calorie burn. A study in The Journal for Strength Training and Conditioning Research found that an hour-long strength training session burned 100 more calories, on average, throughout the day as opposed to those who weren’t lifting. Mix your crazy cardio with strength training to torch calories in the moment and the rest of the day.

woman doing chest presses at the gym

Metabolism: Your muscles are metabolically active. This means that they’re constantly working and they need to burn through energy to do this. Calories are a measure of energy gained from food per gram. If your muscles are always burning through energy, they’re always burning through calories. Get it?

woman doing bicep curls at the gym

Bone Strength: The National Osteoporosis Foundation reports that about 80% of the 10 million Americans who suffer from osteoporosis are women. Slight stress in your bones, similar to that of your muscles, increases density and reduces the risk of a fragile frame.

barbell

Spot Train: Unlike many other forms of exercise, and no matter what you think is happening during your rounds of sit-ups, lifting weights is the only true way to “spot train”. Spot training does not mean fat reduction. Unfortunately, it does not work that way. However, specific compound movements to certain areas of the body will change your muscle composition. Including a better diet will help you to lose the excess fat around all areas of the body and allow you to see the newly developed, defined muscle groups.

women doing calf presses at the gym

Natural Mood Enhancer: Like other forms of exercise, strength training releases endorphins into your blood stream, naturally boosting mood and cognitive performance. In an overly medicated world, why not feel better the healthy way?

happy woman lifting weights

Because You Can: The myths about lifting anything more than an 8-10 pound weights are crazy. I promise you that doing bicep curls with 15 pounds will not turn you into a man. Consider this, the average weight of a two year old is 28 pounds. I guarantee that you moms out there are lugging 28 pounds in one arm, a 20-pound diaper bag in the other, and a 5-10 pound grocery bag at the same time. That’s over 50 pounds of upper body weight lifting.

young woman doing a butterfly chest press machine at the gym

Weight lifting should really be called strength training because that is what’s happening to your body. You’re building strength. You’re building muscle density. You’re building a fabulously toned physique that we all love.