“I do not want to lift weights because I am afraid of looking too masculine”
“I want a nice ass but no heavy lifting”
These are some of the comments personal trainers get from some – or most, at the beginning – female clients who want to build their dream body.
A lot of women still have the wrong misconception that if they start lifting weights they will turn into she-hulks and scare off men or lose their physique. Not only women but almost every person starting the ‘gym’ journey does not understand how complex and difficult it is to build muscle AND keep it on! For the human body it is far easier getting rid of excess body fat than it is to build muscle. Why is that? If one does not put the body to extra stimuli – lifting, pulling, pushing weights, or any resistance type training – the body will not build muscles because it simply does not need it! The problem comes up when in the few occasions that strength is needed; since one has not prepared the body for any extra work, then any task which should be performed easily will become a very difficult one. Another fact is that not investing time in strengthening the body now leads to many other health issues as one moves on in life.
Weight training properly combined with a balanced nutrition will produce the results one wants, be it a man or woman. Here are some tips for women who have doubts about grabbing a dumbbell or two.
- Do not be afraid of looking butch. Women have to learn that to build muscle, even the tiniest bit, they have to challenge their body and lift some proper weights. A good repetition range to start with would be the 12-15 of any exercise you perform. Aim at feeling that burning sensation and having the last 3 repetitions be a real challenge to complete. Anything easier means you are not putting in the right amount of effort and results will not come by.
- Do not be afraid of intensity. Working in a gym I always end up seeing women training but also managing to chat with their friends while squatting. As mentioned before, if the intensity is not right there will be no results. You have to challenge yourself, break a sweat, make ugly faces and if needed even a curse or two. If you do not challenge your body your body will not give you the curves you desire!
- Do not go overboard on the abs. Flash News! Everyone has abs. the only thing is that one has to work on nutrition to uncover them. Therefore for this part of the body, even if training hard is good there is no need to work with heavy weights. The abdominal and lower back muscles can be worked with a higher repetition range, generally 15-20 or even higher, because they are smaller muscles and respond to stimuli quickly but get fatigued faster than larger group muscles like those of the legs.
- Too much aerobics. Yes, a moderate amount of aerobics can help towards increasing the fat burning process but there are more effective ways of increasing heart rate, burn calories and at the same time build muscle. Try practicing some High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) or Tabata sessions. These training methods usually require medium heavy weights or none at all because sometimes only one’s bodyweight is enough. Performed under the supervision of qualified trainers these workouts are challenging and fun resulting in high fat burning and muscle building training sessions.
- Aim at proper nutrition not diets. Nowadays I see a lot of people entering “21 day challenge to your dream body” or a 4 week detox programme. I believe in a lifestyle building type of diet. Every person has their own routine which varies due to work and family obligations so the trick is to find a nutrition routine and make it part of your lifestyle. Apart from building this nutrition lifestyle you have to keep in mind that an important part of it is timing your nutrition. It is proven that nutrition is essential before – in the way of hydration and fueling the body for the training – and after – providing the necessary substances for the body to recover from the training session and help build strength.
Also do not overdo it with extra supplements or by downing blended type foods. Granted, they are convenient but they bypass an important food processing stage done by the body which can lead to faster and higher spikes and dips in insulin which can lead to higher insulin resistance by the body and therefore less effective absorption of nutrients. No hard food to digest by the stomach means one will feel less full causing the risk of getting hungrier earlier and ending up overeating to keep your “hungry” body satiated.
- More pros than cons to lifting weights. The human body is not built to sit down all day in front of a computer or just do the minimum necessary to get by the day. The human body is a wonderful, living machine which has to be taken care of and nurtured to make one’s life easier. As one can see with professional athletes the human body is able to preform incredible feats of strength, speed and balance. Of course not everyone is genetically gifted for sports but a minimum amount of physical activity is essential to keep your engine running the right way. Resistance training will help you;
- Improve strength for daily chores
- Build stronger and healthier bones
- Assist in hormone balancing and is a known stress and anxiety reliever
- Promotes better sleep
- Better pregnancies in terms of higher pain thresholds and better preparedness for the physical toll pregnancies can present.
Lifting weights and resistance training is not only for men. Women can safely train according to their needs and desires and weightlifting can be an integral part of their training lifestyle.
So ladies, or whoever it is, do not be afraid of getting under a bar or grabbing a dumbbell. Start moving, challenge yourselves, set health goals. That way you are safeguarding your wellbeing and improving your time spent on this earth.
Until next time Stay Strong, Stay Focused, Stay Safe!