Weightlifting can be really intimidating, especially for women.
When you walk into the gym you generally see a ton of dudes. There’s a lot of guys that walk in there and take over. They come with all of their friends, take up the entire weight room, and what happens next really just depends on where you are. Some gyms, it’s generally a bunch of teenagers sitting around on the equipment while using their phones to Instagram about how hard they’re working out. Other places, like my gym, it’s a bunch of guys grunting and talking loudly, lifting very heavy weights and are generally doing very interesting, incorrect lifts.
This has lead to women being terrified of the weight room, especially those of us who are overweight. Unless you already know what you’re doing, the weight room is frightening, and I completely understand why. I felt the same way when I started to lift. But the only way to get over that is to learn and do.
Women who lift intimidate people.
I honestly believe it dates back to the fact that women are meant to be ‘feminine,’ and men are meant to be ‘manly.’ Women in history have generally been “less than.” Women were, and in some cases still are, seen as less smart, less strong, less important than men. The idea of weight lifting takes women out of that box; it gives them confidence, strength, and the knowledge that they really can do anything they set their mind to.
It takes a lot of work to get big.
I feel like it’s been said a million times before already, but I’m going to say it anyway: if you’re worried about getting huge and looking like a man, it probably won’t happen. For those of you like me that want to get bigger muscles and look like a bodybuilder, stay tuned. I’ve got stuff for you, too.
But for the women who think that lifting weights heavier than two pounds will get them bulked, you are sadly mistaken. Due to the lack of testosterone in our bodies, it is very hard for women to get big. We can with the right amount of work, but it’s harder. A lot harder. Our bodies have more estrogen, which causes us to hold on to fat. Gotta love nature, huh? This estrogen holds onto fat to make sure that we’ve got enough energy to keep a baby safe and secure.
There are different strategies for your different goals.
I’m going to focus on muscle strength, muscle endurance, and muscular hypertrophy.
Muscular strength: Being able to lift heavier things with greater ease.
For those of you with young children, this would be the ideal program type to follow. Kids are heavy. My son isn’t even two yet, and he’s over 35 pounds. It is by no means easy to lug a 35 pound child everywhere.But due to my lack of strength, I can’t as often as I’d like. Once I’m able to easily pick up thirty five pounds, he’ll be bigger. So it’s something that we as moms have to stay on top of if we really want to be able to be there for our kids. This applies to anyone who has to carry anything heavy, or who just wants to be prepared.
Muscular endurance: how many times you can lift something.
While muscular strength focuses on how much you can lift, muscular endurance is how many times you can lift it. For example, if you can do 25 push-ups in a row, that’s muscular endurance. For those of you in jobs where you’re consistently carrying heavy things, or picking things up and down a lot, this could really help you. If you work to be able to lift a twenty pound dumbbell multiple times, this will make lighter weights easier. For example, if you’re a hair stylist, you’re on your feet all day holding different equipment doing your clients’ hair. A set of clippers or pair of scissors obviously doesn’t weigh twenty pounds. But if you can easily lift twenty pounds up and down multiple times, you’re going to have a much easier time of lifting and lowering your arms.
Muscular hypertrophy: growing the size of your muscles
Muscular hypertrophy is tied with muscular strength as my favorite. I love being able to lift heavy things, but I also love big muscles. It’s not saying that you won’t get stronger or have more endurance if you follow a program that is focused on hypertrophy, because you will, it’s just that it’s not the main focus. Muscular hypertrophy is a mix between strength and endurance. So you won’t be lifting as heavy of weights as you would if you were super focused on strength, but it won’t be as light as if you were focusing on endurance. So if you want a program that is focused on both, muscular hypertrophy is something to look for.
Unless you put in the hours of dedication necessary, you won’t look like a bodybuilder. Women who are bodybuilders work super hard, and dedicate their lives to build their bodies. Nature itself is working against them, so even if you focus on growing bigger muscles, unless you put the time, energy, and effort into looking like a bodybuilder, you won’t. So don’t let that deter you.
Weightlifting strengthens your bones.
Strength training is essential to increasing bone density, which will decrease your chances of getting osteoporosis. This is a greater concern with older women, since your estrogen levels are lower. Estrogen is essential to maintaining your bone density, and if you’re looking to build that bone density without taking a bunch of supplements, turn to lifting. Also strength training increases your metabolism, which causes you to burn more fat even after you’ve stopped working out.
Weightlifting and weight loss.
If you’ve watched The Biggest Loser, they don’t spend all of their time on the treadmill or stationary bike. They have a variety of different workouts, and they lift a lot of weight. Heavy weight. Heck, when Bob trains them it’s a full on CrossFit workout and the only cardio machines you’ll see are a row machine and Assault Bike. These two particular machines are ideal because they’re a full body workout. To use these as a warm up is a very efficient use of your time because not only are you raising your body temperature (which is what a warm up is for), but it gets all of your main muscles moving so that you’re ready to go when it is time to lift.
When you lift weights, you’re causing micro-tears in your muscles that have to heal, which is what allows them to get stronger. In order to help that heal, your body has to put more energy in that, so with the proper lifting program, you could continue burning fat for up to three days after the workout is over. If you’ve been steadily avoiding the weight room and staying a cardio queen, I dare you to step out of your comfort zone.
What is your biggest concern with weight lifting? Does it scare you, or are you ready to attack it?