Strength training is an important part of any exercise routine. We've posted before about how lifting weights can help you lose weight. But many women don't know enough about lifting weights and may have misconceptions about that type of training. For example, many women have fears that weight lifting will make them seem bulky or unfeminine.
Let's look at some common barriers women face with strength training so you can get out there and start lifting!
Fear of 'bulking up' - Many women think if they lift heavy weights they will become bulky and develop a masculine physique. This isn't true. Biologically, women are extremely unlikely to achieve that type of muscle mass because they don't have enough testosterone. Testosterone is what makes men able to achieve that super-muscle appearance.
Think about rock climbers, gymnasts, track and field athletes and dancers who all possess incredible levels of strength while staying light. How do they do that?
Weight training has two different types of effect. The neural effects are those that improve the connection of the mind to the muscle, allowing it to contract harder and faster. It's entirely possible to enhance this capacity and not see any increases in muscle size. The opposite is true for the metabolic changes. At certain rep ranges you will see increases in muscle size brought about via an array of mechanisms.
Lifting weights only for a few reps is less likely to cause size gains than lifting weights for more reps. Please note there are other factors here, such as what you eat and how many total sets you do (it is still possible to lift for only a few reps at a time, but do many sets and cause metabolic changes to the muscle.)
Not sure how to use equipment - Free weights like dumbbells, barbells and kettlebells look really simple, but this can actually cause confusion with how to use them to get the best results. If this is something that's stopping you talk to someone in your gym, book a personal training session, or speak to one of our sales people. You can also check out these sample workouts we have using medicine balls and kettlebells.
Fear of getting hurt - One reason women might not want to try to lift weights is simply because they don't want to lift too heavy, too soon, and hurt themselves. Again, talk to a personal trainer or one of our staff members about the size and kind of weights you can start with.
Why should women lift weights?
- Get great definition in your arms, back and legs. Cardio and proper eating can help with fat loss, but lifting weights can help you get tones and defined.
- Easy to track progress. When you start lifting, you will know the limit of how much you can lift. When you go up a weight, you'll know the exercises are working. This will help with motivation and hep you set goals.
- Sleep better. Heavy lifting is trying on the body – it tears muscle fibres and they have to work overtime to repair themselves, but this does make them stronger. Calories are burnt long after the last rep. Many people find that lifting weights helps with sleep.
- It helps burn fat. Lifting weights will burn fat, and promote muscle growth.
It's not important that you move big weights; what's important is that you're lifting weights that are heavy for you. Over time, you will get stronger and the weights you can handle will increase. A heavy load can be defined as a weight that you can lift in good form for 3-6 repetitions.