Regardless of your gender, your muscles respond to resistance via adaptation. This adaptation results in increased strength, healthier bones, improved endurance and a reduced risk factor for common diseases. It also has an effect on your body's fat-to-muscle ratio. As a general rule, you can expect to lose fat equal to the amount of muscle mass you gain during bodybuilding, but results vary depending on factors ranging from genetics to the intensity of your strength-training program. Don't quit your aerobics class, though -- add a bodybuilding workout to your routine to burn fat both ways.
Trade in those jiggly thighs and flabby abs for firm, shapely muscle by doing bodybuilding exercises a few times a week. Based on algorithms generated by Emory University, HealthStatus estimates that a 155-pound woman who lifts weights for 30 minutes burns between 121 and 214 calories, depending on the intensity of the workout – for bodybuilding, the calorie burn likely skews toward the high end. To put this in perspective, about 3,500 calories equals 1-pound of body weight. According to studies performed at the South Shore YMCA in Quincy, Massachusetts, women who participated in strength-training programs two to three times weekly gained roughly 2-pounds of muscle and lost 3.5-pounds of fat over the course of two months.
Every little bit counts when it comes to burning fat. Although the actual number of calories burned during resistance training isn't massive, bodybuilding essentially increases your body's metabolism, which leads to additional weight loss. A 2001 study from the University of Maryland found that across subjects of varied age and gender, regular strength training increased resting metabolic rate – or the rate at which your body burns calories while at rest – by a significant 7 percent.
Don't rely on bodybuilding alone to send fat packing. At the end of the day, expending more calories than you consume results in weight loss. If your focus is on burning fat, you'll need to accent your bodybuilding program with a low-fat, high-protein diet and regular cardiovascular exercise, such as running, swimming, biking or spinning. A 155-pound woman who runs at an 8-mile-per-hour pace for 30 minutes burns 474 calories -- two to four times as many calories as the average lifting session. For a healthy bodybuilding program, you'll need to allow specific muscle groups at least 24 hours of recovery before working them again – try active recovery with cardiovascular exercise to maximize your fat loss.
Bodybuilding won't give you the same results it will give your man. Compared to men, women have fewer hormones that cause muscle hypertrophy. This means that women who participate in strength-training programs tend to increase their muscle tone and definition without gaining weight, though diet, genetics and the use of supplements may alter this. Despite what you may have heard, lifting lighter weights with more repetitions does not burn more fat than moderate repetitions of heavy weights. At the beginning of a new weight training program, muscle mass gains may outpace fat loss, but fat losses typically increase as you gain endurance and engage in longer, more intense workouts. Make a commitment and do the work for the body of your dreams
- ExRx.net: Weight Training for Specific Populations – Women
- Bodybuilding.com: 10 Reasons Women Should Do Resistance Training
- HealthStatus: About Us
- HealthStatus: Calories Burned Calculator
- Columbia University, Go Ask Alice!: How Many Calories Does it Take to Lose One Pound?
- Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise/ PubMed.gov: Effect of Strength Training on Resting Metabolic Rate and Physical Activity: Age and Gender Comparisons
- ExRx.net: Fat Loss and Weight Training Myths
- Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images