Women of all ages from all around the world have been regularly strength training for many years, because they know and have personally seen the wonderful benefits that they can gain from doing so. Yet it still amazes me that in this day and age there are still so many ridiculous ideas and beliefs about weight lifting for women still floating around.
I had to laugh when I was first told by a male colleague not to lift too much weight or I’d look too masculine and become big and bulky like one of those huge bodybuilders. He just could not comprehend that by lifting heavier weights I could actually shrink at least one size by the end of the year. This is just one of the crazy fallacies there are about women and strength training.
The simple fact is that females just can’t build huge muscle like men basically because we just don’t have the same testosterone levels that they do, in fact we have something like 15- 20 times less!
Regular weight lifting can increase your lean muscle mass but that won’t lead to you adding on pounds of bulky muscle. Muscle is a lot more compact than fat so takes up less space which means if you train to build more muscle mass, you can actually shrink your body size.
The professional female bodybuilders you see not only have an amazing dedication and have trained extremely hard for countless hours over a long period of time, but they also very likely to be gifted with amazing genetics. Not only that, but for several weeks before they actually step onto that stage they partake in a very strict diet regime that is structured to strip away a lot of their body fat. This regime is so strict and extreme that most of us wouldn’t be able to handle it. Plus many of the bigger competitors also take Anabolic steroids which is a synthetic version of testosterone, in order to try and increase their muscle mass.
Women shouldn’t train like men
Why not? – We have the exact same muscles that men have and they all need to be worked in order to see results, so we too need to lift weights and I don’t mean those cute little pink dumbbells. The light dumbbells are fine when you first start out and are practicing to get the correct form, but you need to be constantly increasing the weight you are lifting in order to see results. The only difference between men and women is that our individual goals will be slightly different and therefore we would adapt our training routine accordingly.
Also remember that you cannot spot reduce and just try and lose fat on one particular area you dislike, instead you have to work your whole body hard to get the desired results. The best exercises you can start with are compound exercises, as they will work a number of your major muscles at the same time. Once you start to get the shape you desire you can look at doing isolation exercises that will target specific muscle groups more.
Another fallacy is that strength training makes you muscle bound and less flexible and like any physical exercise you should always take time to stretch properly afterwards. However there are certain weight training exercises like Romanian deadlifts and pullovers that can actually help increase your range of motion.
Why Women Love Weight Lifting
Women Only Go To The Gym To Lose Weight – This is another ridiculous notion as many women now know strong is the new skinny. They regularly go to the gym to become stronger fitter and more confident females. More and more women are realising that that hour of cardio will only burn calories for up to an hour afterwards. Whereas a strength training session that also increases your heart rate can help your body to continually burn calories due to an increased amount of muscle.
Apples and Oranges
Also if you do decide to stop training the muscle does not just turn to fat, they are two different structures, it’s a bit like saying apples can turn to oranges. If you stop training yes, you will gradually lose strength and your muscle mass will decrease overtime. But you will only put on fat if you continue to consume a lot more calories than your body actually needs.
Weight Lifting Can Help Combat Effects of Ageing
As we gradually get older our bodies slowly start declining, from our twenties we start losing about 5 pounds of muscle every 10 years, even more so after menopause. By lifting weights regularly we can slowly put this muscle mass back on and reverse this effect of ageing.
Also our metabolism slows as we get older and strength training can help rectify this as well because the more muscle you have the higher rate of metabolism, which means you constantly burn more calories even when you are resting.
Strength training can also increase bone density therefore reducing the risk of osteoporosis which women are more susceptible to due to hormone changes as we get older. So as you can see strength training can greatly help to reduce and even reverse the effects of ageing.
The Scales v The Tape measure
Yes, the scales may go up but your jeans will get loser and if you keep training hard you will eventually become a tighter leaner more compact version of your former self and can go down several sizes in clothing. This is one of the reasons why you should keep a journal, take progress photos along your fitness journey and take measurements with a tape measure rather than looking at the dreaded scales. Have a read of my post Losing Body Fat vs Losing Weight – which one is more important and why…
Dopamine Rush From Weight Lifting
Pushing your body to its limits in any strenuous physical activity that you like to take part in, will give you a dopamine rush and weight training is the one that I enjoy the most. There is nothing like the buzz and satisfaction you get when you have successfully completed that last set at the heaviest weight possible.
So if you haven’t already ditch the long hours of cardio and start lifting some serious iron you’ll benefit a lot more from it and see the results you are after a lot quicker. If you have already started working out with weights and have seen some good results or have any questions about weight lifting for women please leave a comment below, I’d love to hear from you…