Why are women still unsure about lifting weights?
This is an interesting topic due to the popular misconception that all women who lift heavy weights will become “bulky” and overly muscular. I admit I once thought this to be true. Lifting a barbell will turn a woman into Arnold Schwarzenegger. Thankfully, us women are now understanding that we simply do not have the testosterone levels to bulk up like men can.
In the stereotypically dominated male weight training area, the male to female ratio has changed dramatically over the years with more women choosing to incorporate resistance training into their routine.
Those ladies who wish to ‘tone up’ or ‘appear more toned’, please keep reading!
Women are realising that resistance training is the key to improved overall body composition. It promotes fat loss and builds lean muscle tissue. Cardio training is essential for a healthy heart and when combined with resistance training, a balanced diet and sufficient rest, the changes in the aesthetics of your body become visible. When women say they want to be more toned, what that really means is they want bigger muscles and less body fat. Increasing numbers of women are lifting weights to change their overall physical appearance for that ‘toned’ look. However there are more reasons to go heavy other than aesthetics only.
Benefits, aside from changing your body shape!
- Muscle burns more calories than fat. FACT. Therefore, ideal for anyone seeking fat loss and should definitely be incorporated into a routine due to the positive impact on metabolic rate.
- Functional strength training is whole body dynamic movements that make daily activities such as gardening and bending down a lot easier.
- Studies have shown that the risk of osteoporosis is reduced in individuals who are active, and more so, those who do weight bearing exercises due to the rate of decreasing bone density, that come with age, slowing down. Aside from a nutrient dense diet with plenty of calcium, vitamin D and K, resistance training is one of the best ways to maintain strong bones.
- It is a key conditioning component for power and endurance athletes, improving athletic performance
- Increased confidence and improved self-esteem come along weight training as the results of hard work and dedication become evident.
- Increased strength for daily life such as lifting and children. (I do get a secret kick when the postman comes knocking delivering weights and insists on setting them in the hallway for me so that I don’t strain myself…very thoughtful, yet he doesn’t know I’m bench pressing them later)!
- Body weight training requires no equipment
- An increased sense of personal empowerment
- Research published in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine concluded that the symptoms of anxiety disorder are reduced with moderate intensity resistance training.
- Resistance training alone has been concluded by the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine as clinically beneficial in chronic fatigue.
O’Connor, P.J., Herring, M.P., & Caravalho, A. 2010. Mental health benefits of strength training in adults. American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, 4 (5), 377–96.
Progression should be gradual, though very quickly significant gains can be made and this improvement in strength builds confidence and encourages more progression. It’s highly motivating working towards targets and you will notice, sometimes when you least expecting it, just how much stronger you have become.
My personal experience
Based on my own experience, having been doing long distance running, swimming, cycling and yoga, I was content. I was active, slim and healthy. Once I started weight training, I thought almost immediately, why did I not do this sooner? I was hooked. I did keep running, cycling and yoga and increased high intensity training such as hill sprints as I was wanting to become more lean rather than appear larger. I trained my abs but made sure not to overtrain the muscles as this can lead to thickening of the midsection. Focusing on proportions, I worked primarily on the glutes, outer thigh muscles and shoulders.
Gradually, the changes in my body composition became more evident. No, my clothing did not start ripping due to my muscles, nor did I become ‘veiny’! I always had a flat stomach, however definition could now be seen, 1 ½ inches off my waist, my butt appeared bigger and rounder, yet overall I have more curves, lower body fat percentage, my waist has never been smaller yet I am stronger and actually weigh 7lbs heavier! That’s another thing: scales aren’t always indicative of progress. Of course this depends on your goals and weight but I will discuss in more detail about that in another blog soon.
Did I mention of course that lifting weights is fun and challenging! It is never boring. I love when I have my studio to myself, its like play time!
Along with muscular strength and endurance, a clean and balanced diet, cardiovascular training, flexibility work and healthy body fat levels all contribute towards your goal if it is to change body shape. Intensity, frequency and proper programming should be considered with all aspects of training as should rest periods to allow for muscles to repair.
So ladies, for that lean and ‘toned’ look, give lifting a go!
Good things come to those who weight*…..
*Sorry I just couldn’t resist!