When you walk into a gym, chances are the free weight section will likely be full of men working out. Sometimes the lack of women in the weight room can subconsciously make us think we don't belong there.
It doesn't help that there are a lot of myths about women who lift, like they will get a bulky, masculine body shape or that it's dangerous for women to do.
The truth? Men's AND women's bodies benefit from lifting weights and strength training. So if you're a woman that's curious about starting to lift weights in the gym, we have the 6 things you actually need to know about strength training for women!
Building muscle helps you look leaner.
If you're worried that growing your muscles will make you big and muscular, like the guy curling 100lb dumbbells on the other side of the gym, we've got good news for you! Bulking or intentionally gaining a lot of muscle is an intensive process that takes a lot of effort to do.
Women don't produce the same amount of testosterone as men, which is one of the hormones responsible for this bulky, muscular look. So unless you're a professional weightlifting athlete or training to get huge muscles, chances are you will look leaner and gain more defined muscles instead.
Weightlifting helps you burn more fat all day long.
Many women work out to lose weight, but many of them have yet to realize that weight training has a big effect on reaching those weight loss goals rather than doing cardio alone.
Adding weight lifting into your workout program is great for increasing muscle mass which increases your resting metabolic rate (aka the number of calories one burns doing nothing.)
It's also important to remember that you will start to look leaner and more toned as you increase your muscle mass and decrease fat, even though the scale might not show that you have lost weight.
Your bones get stronger too.
Roughly 1 in 3 women will experience an osteoporosis-related fracture at some point in their life. Age-related bone and muscle loss can make you more likely to get fractures and other injuries, experience falls, and be more likely become immobile later in life.
Lifting weights and other forms of resistance training works great for helping increase your bone density because, like muscle and fat, your bone is a dynamic tissue that the body is constantly breaking down and replacing. Adding in some physical stress that's greater than just your normal daily activities (especially activities like strength training) must happen to strengthen and maintain strong, healthy bones!
Lifting weights is great for pain reduction.
Many adults experience back, knee, neck, and shoulder pain frequently. This pain is usually a result of improper movement or muscle imbalances in the body.
Strength training is a great way to target underused muscle groups that causes these painful muscle imbalances. You can even get help from a certified fitness professional to get specific feedback on improving your form to promote healthy movement patterns.
Overall, lifting weights (properly) is a great way to keep yourself moving pain-free for longer!
It gives you more natural energy, reduces stress, and makes you feel good.
Just like you do from other workouts, weight lifting helps your body release endorphins to give you more energy and lower stress levels. The neurochemical release from strength training is a great way to lift your mood fast!
Plus, pushing yourself outside your comfort zone to master new exercises and eventually progress to lifting more weight helps build your strength, competence, and confidence in and outside the gym (which feels great!)
You don't have to be a pro to start.
Whether you start lifting weights at home or in the gym, remember that everybody started somewhere in their weightlifting journey. Those weights you see them lifting now are different from what they used when they were beginning, so don't get discouraged that your number doesn't match theirs.
If you're still not comfortable with free weights, use the machines (and don't be afraid to read the instructions for the ones you aren't sure how to use yet!) Find machines that work the same muscle groups and start a workout routine that way. Or, if you really have no clue how to start and need an extra confidence boost to get going, work with a personal trainer! You'd be amazed at how much you can learn from a single session with a pro.
Having an appropriately designed, regular strength training routine is an important part of a healthy lifestyle for women of all ages and stages of life. Weight lifting has the power to strengthen our muscles, bones, metabolic systems, and mind to help us achieve our fitness goals and more!
Comment below with questions or advice you have about starting strength training!
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