Flex Appeal

10 reasons to squeeze a little strength training into your life.

Practically every woman I know wants to lose ten pounds. But a few years ago, that was a drop in the bucket for me. One marriage, five pregnancies, and a host of health problems added up to more excess weight than I cared to carry. So I decided to start exercising and eating less. I dutifully donned my walking shoes and watched every morsel of food I ate.

Before long, I became discouraged. Sure, walking paid off in terms of sleeping better and having more energy. But the numbers on my scale hardly budged. And that's where I really wanted to see results.

Just when I was ready to give up, my friend Rochelle invited me to her weight-lifting class at our local YMCA. Out of desperation, I agreed to give it a shot. That first Tuesday morning, I dragged myself out of bed at 5:30 a.m. and wondered what on earth I'd gotten myself into.

But I stayed faithful. A few weeks later, when I looked in the mirror, I saw a long-lost friend—my waist! After a few more weeks, I was sure my thighs looked more defined. Before I knew it, the needle on my bathroom scale actually moved!

Since that time, I've learned a lot about strength training—in fact, a year after I began attending, I became the instructor of that early-morning weight-lifting class.

If your to-do list is as long as mine, you're not eager to add one more thing to it. Yet I've found 10 good reasons why strength training's worth a second look.

1. Maximum calorie burn.

The truth is, the only way to lose weight is to burn more calories than you consume. Frankly, you can't afford not to strength train. The reason's simple: As you build muscle and lose fat, your body burns calories more efficiently. Why? Because muscle tissue burns calories faster than fat tissue. This means you'll burn more calories—even while you're sleeping—and lose weight faster than you would if you did no strength training at all.

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