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If you think the weight room is for boys and will give you 20-inch biceps, think again. It's for results. Lifting weights gives you an edge over belly fat, heart disease, and even cancer. And no, you won't bulk up, says Pete McCall, exercise physiologist with the American Council on Exercise. You'll actually slim down: We ladies simply don't have the testosterone to build boyish muscles. Not to mention that strength training burns 40 percent more fat than cardio -- building muscles will rev your metabolism and keep you burning more calories all day long, even when you aren't in the gym. As if that weren't enough reason to pick up a dumbbell, it turns out pumping iron will help fight that stress. (Talk about a two-for-one deal!) People with the greatest muscle mass maintain better blood pressure levels during stressful situations.
The Plan: Three to four times a week, hit the weights, McCall advises. Start things off with light weights (5 to 10 pounds) to get your form down, and once you do, start adding on more weight to push the intensity. When you can eke out your last rep with proper form, it's time to add more weight. That pace will keep you burning fat and toning up without sacrificing form or putting you at risk for injury.