From the treadmill to the squat rack

Amy McNeel

Ladies, it’s time to step off the cardio machine and into the weight room. When I go to the gym, I see so many girls confining themselves to cardio machines and floor mats, and while these workouts have their time and place, neglecting weight training is a big “no-no” for reaching fitness goals. 

I think there are a lot of reasons so many women stick to the treadmill, and let me tell you, I was once like that, too. I never used to lift weights because I was scared, intimidated and lacked a lot of weight-training knowledge. However, as I slowly integrated lifting into my workouts, I found that the weight room was not as scary as it seemed, and neither were the people who spent time in it. Additionally, I noticed a lot of benefits to lifting and saw huge progress in my level of fitness.

Growing up, I was taught a common myth: Weight training makes women bulky. But that’s just a myth. On the contrary, lifting actually has the opposite effect; instead of making women bulky, it helps build lean muscle that in turn makes women more toned. So no, you will not be more masculine by simply lifting some weights.  

Furthermore, weight training can actually be more efficient in reaching fitness goals than cardio. Most women stick to treadmills and elliptical machines because they believe that is what will help them burn the maximum amount of fat. However, it has been proven that lifting essentially burns more fat than cardio. 

This is because weight training allows for excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) to take place. According to Muscle and Fitness magazine, EPOC “refers to how long your metabolism is elevated after exercise, enabling you to burn fat long after finishing your workout.” Weight training stretches and tears the muscles, and the body needs more energy to recover and repair them, allowing EPOC to take place, which can increase the metabolism and burn fat for hours after a workout. 

Likewise, more calories are burned by muscle tissue than fat tissue. According to, “Research shows that 1 pound of muscle burns seven to 10 calories per day, while 1 pound of fat burns only 2 to 3 calories.” Therefore, by building muscle, weight lifters also increase their resting metabolic rate and in turn burn more calories.  

A couple of years ago, I found myself stuck in the same routine of cardio and core workouts, and I wasn’t seeing or feeling many results. The shift to weight training was an extremely positive experience for me; I found that I enjoyed weight training more than cardio and that the results were much more progressive. Knowing this, I want to urge more women to make their way into the weight room. It can be scary and challenging, but more than that, it can be worth it. 

Remember, everyone had to start somewhere; no one knew exactly what they were doing the first time they entered a weight room. So, go after it and allow your fitness goals to become your reality.