Do I look like I lift heavy weights?
I used to be one of the only women in the gym in the free weights area 10-15years ago, with a load of blokes and either the only woman or one of just two women in the strength training orientated 6:45am gym class! Luckily things have changed and its become more popular amongst ladies to lift heavy but I’m still pretty sure there are lots of women out there who still think weights are for men. They’re most certainly not!
There are many misconceptions of strength training and lifting heavy weights
- Lifting makes women look masculine
- Muscle will turn to fat when you stop working out
- Women shouldn’t lift heavy or they’ll get bulky
- You can spot reduce fat
- You need cardio to lose weight
- Men and women should train differently
- Older women shouldn’t strength train
No no no! It’s never too late to even start!
There are many advantages of strength training.
Lose body fat
Larger muscles burn more calories and more fat as your metabolism is elevated after the exercise.
Gain strength without bulk
Your body adapts to training and gets stronger/bigger/faster/smaller because of the neural, muscular, hormonal, and skeletal changes that are the result of a chosen training stimulus. So it is possible, to get stronger without getting bigger – it’s a “skilled act.” you can teach your body to be strong.
Decrease your risk of osteoporosis
It’s easier to maintain bone density than to build it. So, engaging in progressive strength training as young as possible ensures your bones will get, and stay, strong through your older years, Strong bones are important for long-term health and you’ll be less likely to experience fractures.
Improve your athletic performance
It can improve your peak torque, your muscle’s maximum strength capability. Training for maximal strength can enhance endurance performance and exercise economy and can improve your explosive power. A lot of athletes do the same motion over and over, which can cause issues if the muscles stabilising the joints are weak. The stronger your core is, the longer you can maintain good form and keep pace at the end of a race for example.
Reduce your risk of injury, back pain & arthritis
You are less likely to get injured, the stronger you are in all planes of motion.
Reduce risk of heart disease
You will reduce your risk of heart disease as you improve your aerobic capacity and you keep your body lean.
Reduce your risk of diabetes
Your muscles and cells are desperate for fuel (glucose in the blood) during and after a workout. Improvements in the sensitivity of the cells to insulin quickly follow this high demand.
Improve your attitude and fight depression
Strength training also increases self-esteem and self-confidence, which overall helps one’s quality of life. It can also help alleviate some symptoms of depression.
Improve your sleep
People have experienced falling asleep more quickly, sleeping longer, and waking up less often during the night.
Your boobs get a boost
Just like lower body exercises make your butt perkier, upper body pressing exercises have the same effect on your pectoral muscles. People often report that strength training has “lifted” their breasts.
While most sources say women should strength train just to lose fat and get sexy, there are many other benefits women can reap from strength training. It can help build a better brain, better bones, better boobs, better sleep, and basically improve every aspect of your life while making you a better person.
I am now 41 years old; this picture was taken in Dec 2016 with no changes to my normal training.
I have found if I do 2 or 3 weight sessions per week for 30-60mins each one, I can maintain a healthy, functional, injury free life, with self confidence and enabling me to enjoy playing with my son. Getting stronger in the gym makes everyday tasks easier to perform. Any other training I may get to do, like running and cycling, just gives me more ‘me time’ outside in the fresh air which is a bonus when it can be fitted in.
Fat loss doesn’t have to be the reason you do strength training.
Lifting weights isn’t about fixing your flaws and no, exercise isn’t punishment for overeating.
Perhaps a better brain, performance based goals, better sleep and stronger bones doesn’t appeal to you. Maybe the only thing you want is to look better naked and you don’t care about the other benefits. That’s fine, it’s your body, but I like women to focus exclusively on what their bodies CAN do and strive to get stronger and improve their performance with strength training. I understand some couldn’t care less about any other benefits.
If vanity is the only reason you go to the gym, so be it. Strength training is awesome for making that happen. Whether you want to reduce body fat or create that “toned” look. In my opinion, it’s the best tool for the job. With consistency you’ll be rewarded with a leaner, stronger, better-looking body (in my opinion). Perhaps, soon, you’ll begin to appreciate the other benefits along the way.
There are many more benefits to strength training, but I hope you can see there are no drawbacks. Just these reasons we’ve mentioned should convince you to start immediately, or continue as you are already doing, forever!