Okay, guys. This is what I consider to be a silly question. Of course "working out" is not limited to weight-lifting, even as a guy! If you're a cyclist, you "work out" when you're cycling - training for endurance. If you're a runner, you "work out" when you're running. It really depends on your body type and your specific training program.
work·out (wûrk'out') pronunciation
1. A session of exercise or practice to improve fitness, as for athletic competition.
2. A strenuous test of ability and endurance.
That really says it all. Weight-lifting can be good for you, if you do it right. Naturally, the specifics for training will be different for guys and girls, due to the differences in stature and structure of our muscles. As a girl who lifted in high school, I warn all the other girls to get a good instructor - and for that matter, get your coaches checked out. High school coaches can be major idiots who make it up as they go. Going to a local YMCA or gym with credited instructors for advice is the way to go. Otherwise you might end up totally out of balance. Our weight program for HS sports was so bad, half the team wound up tearing stuff. Girls must have a balanced program, especially since the posterior muscles (hamstrings, trapezius, etc.) need specific exercises to be in balance. I tore my hamstring nearly in half because my quads were so out of balance (too strong) and I'm a naturally limber person whose hamstrings are naturally loose. My physical therapist was flabbergasted.
Your weight program really depends on how much free time you have on your hands. If I were perfect with all the time in the whole, I'd work out twice a day, two to three times a week. As it is, I only have time for once a day. My routine is varied between running, cycling, and weight-ligting. But the basic plan for someone would be to work cardio in the morning since that's when metabolism is high and weights in the afternoon/evening hours. I don't have that kind of time, so I do both in one session. Here, I start with my warmup (light jogging) and then follow with weightlifting and lastly, cardio (running).
Why? Glucose. When you work out, you need to make sure you have an adequate amount of glucose/stored carbohydrates. When you start with weights, your body uses the reserve glucose first, and you'll feel better by the time you get to cardio - your body will be ready to burn fat for energy when you run. On the other hand, starting with cardio would make you burn your reserve glucose first this way, and by the time your body has resorted to fat burning, you'll be lifting weights but you will be fatigued due to a lack of glucose and burn less fat. So you basically burn more fat with doing cardio last. Or that's the way it was explained to me.
You could also do cardio one day and weights on another, but you have to be careful or else you won't get enough recuperation between them and overtrain. Those of you who do endurance sports, like marathoning or biking would probably benefit from cardio workouts with weight lifting only in your spare time. When you train, you have to allow recup time. You must always have active recovery at the end of your workout, and then cool down. I won't go into lactic acid stuff, cause I think I'd bore you to tears. If you don't get enough rest, you could be setting yourself back. You must get enough sleep, have intervals between workouts, yadda yadda. You could probably look this up if you want specifics.
So, weight lifting isn't bad. It really won't make you bulk up as a girl if you do it right.
Weight lifting raises your metabolism, because -duh- muscle uses calories more than fat does. More muscles = more calories burned in general. Plus, muscles make you stronger and increase endurance. If you have lower back problems, working on your posture and your abdominals really helps (my older sister can tell you this). This "core strenghtening" naturally helps coordination and balance. Lastly, the pulling of the muscles on the bones strengthens them too - which is particularly good for us women.
A few things to remember:
Lift and lower slowly. I can't tell you how many times I see people going way too fast with their weights, with improper technique to boot! You shouldn't "swing" or use momentum to get the weights up. If that's the case, you've got too much. You want enough weight to have resistance, so achieving your rep goal is difficult by the end, but you don't want to sacrifice form.
Don't hold you breath. If you don't breathe, you're stressing yourself and possibly compromising your full range of motion throughout the movement. I have to really pay attention to my exhale, personally. It's easy for my to take deep breaths, but what I forget is exhaling, so I really blow my air out to keep the rhythm.
FORM. Make sure you're striaght and doing things correctly, Involve your abs in everything so you keep your balance and protect thy spine. I see guys doing squats and they're all hunched over at the waist and I just want to strap a belt to them. I like belts, especially in those kinds of exercises.
Hokay. I totally just spammed this thread. ;_;