When you think of “women’s fitness” you probably think treadmills, pink and purple dumbbells and Zumba.
While the rest of the fitness world: barbells, kettlebells and squat racks are for those who are much more intimidating and buff.
You might even think upgrading from ankle weights to pull-up bars means you have to be jacked up on testosterone and whey protien.
In other words, there isn't a reason to unchain yourself from the elliptical machine, if you want a lean body, right?
It almost seems conditioned into our brains to think that cardio is the best thing for weight loss and looking fit.
Many individuals, women in particular, are misguided to think that running for miles will help you shed those unwanted pounds.
And give you your toned abs and thighs you’ve always dreamt of.
The truth is that the benefits you reap from resistance/strength training have been researched extensively.
Researchers have been recently making exceptionally compelling arguments when it comes to weight training for women.
And I know what you’re thinking, “Won’t I get bulky?!”
The answer is, no. Not if you don’t want to!
Let me explain…
THE Benefits of Weight Training for Women
Ladies, stop shying away from the weight racks!
Get the negative thoughts out of your head and pick up a dumbbell.
You don’t need 25-inch biceps to enter the weight room, just a positive attitude and a desire to achieve that bikini bod.
Resistance and weight training is beneficial to your body and self-esteem. Here are just a handful of reasons why you shouldn’t skip out.
You will burn ALOT of calories
Studies have found that the average woman who weight trains 2 – 3 times per week regularly for two months will lose 3.5 pounds of fat and gain approximately 2 pounds of muscle. 
This is because as lean muscle increases, your resting metabolism increases as well.
It has been shown to result in an escalation of metabolism for up to 24 hours post workout.
In other words, you burn more calories throughout the day without having to do any physical activity.
For each pound of muscle you gain, you burn approximately 35 – 55 more calories each day – this can add up quick!
It's a mood booster
Exercising in general, specifically weight training, will help improve your mood and reduce stress.
The release of endorphins throughout a training session can help fight depression, prevent injury and improve mood. 
Endorphins also naturally aid in the reduction of anxiety.
You get stronger
Ladies, we are constantly in need of functional strength.
Whether it's for lifting children, lugging groceries or pushing that overfilled Target shopping cart.
Moderate weight training can increase a woman’s strength by 30 – 50%! 
Your bone health improves
Osteoporosis is a serious health concern for women.
By incorporating more resistance and weight training into your routine, you can increase your bone density by 13% in just six months. 
Resistance activities increase the physical stresses on bone, which help activate osteoblasts (bone cells) and favor bone deposition. 
Even your posture gets better
Strengthening your back and core will help promote proper posture.
This can make you stand taller and avoid slouching.
Also, a stronger core and back will prevent lower back pain by developing the muscles necessary for flexing, rotating and extending.
The American Chiropractic Association reports that 70 – 85% of people experience back pain at some point in their life. 
How to Lift Without Getting Bulky
There are different ways that you can train your body, depending on the look and “shape” you are trying to achieve.
Building muscle and bulking up are two distinctive entities.
By lifting weight, you are creating tears in the muscles, when they are repaired, you become stronger and bigger.
This is building muscle; this will decrease fat and increase your muscle mass making you look leaner.
In order to become bulky, as many women fear, you have to put a lot of work in.
Bodybuilders spend hours upon hours training and follow a rigorous diet that promotes muscle gain.
It would be hard to become bulky by simply lifting weights.
If you are looking to tone up and slim down, here are some great tips to follow as a general guideline.
As with anything health related, it is important to remember that everyone’s body is different so stay aware of your changes and adapt your methods as you find necessary.
Start HIIT'ing hard
High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) and Circuits are short and effective workouts that will keep your heart rate elevated and give your muscles a good run for their money.
It’s an extremely effective way to build strength, burn fat and develop muscle.
Here's an awesome 6 minute HIIT routine you can do.
Watch your diet
To develop a toned, lean body you have to make sure your diet is balanced and wholesome.
The more fat you have on your body, the harder it is to see the muscle development underneath.
However, you cannot deprive your body of nutrients. You need ample protein and vitamins to build muscle and promote healthy weight loss.
On average, women who are looking to tone up and lose fat should aim for approximately 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight.
Start hydrating regularly
Did you know that your muscles are 75 – 80% water?
Dehydration leads to muscle breakdown and in order to encourage the production of new tissues it’s important that you keep your electrolyte balance in check.
More water also helps in the detoxification of the body which leads to weight loss and improved skin + hair!
You have to get rested
Though sleep is a critical element of overall health, many of us have a tough time hitting the recommended amount of Zzz’s each night.
Rest is so important for muscle development as it is a key time for growth hormone release.
It also prevents the release of cortisol, the dreaded stress hormone that contributes to fat gain and anxiety.
Always listen to your body
To get toned and shape your body, you must push your muscles to their limits each workout.
Don’t approach lifting with the “low weight, high rep” mentality, instead figure out your muscle’s ability.
You should be able to do between 8 – 12 reps of an exercise with correct form.
If you can get more than 12 reps per set, then you should be lifting heavier weight.
TAKE YOUR WORKOUT TO THE NEXT LEVEL!
At the end of the day, it’s important to keep variety in your fitness routine.
Spending day in and day out doing cardio won’t help you achieve the body you want so make sure to shake it up!
Don’t be afraid to pick up some weight and show the fellas that strong is sexy on women too.