Reasons Women Should Lift Weights
Fitness | Strength Training

7 Reasons Women Should Lift Weights

Reasons Women Should Lift Weights

“Aren’t you afraid of bulking up?”

#Repost @sarahwyland with @repostapp ・・・ “Aren’t you afraid of bulking up?” I was asked that question for the umpteenth time today. These photos were taken on the same day – deadlifting 240 at a meet by day, heading out to a wedding by night. Women shy away from lifting heavy weights because of fears of “bulking up”, but it’s simply an unwarranted fear. “Bulking up” as a woman is HARD to do – we don’t naturally have the testosterone required. But lifting heavy weights DOES help body composition (significantly). It’s also great for bone health and even self-confidence. I promise you will feel like you can take on the world when you rip a bar loaded with weight off the floor. Lifting heavy weights – correctly, with good form – is a game changer, especially when supplemented with something like barre or running. Ladies, don’t be afraid to pick up something heavy. I’m glad I do it every single day. It’s cool – and okay – to be strong. • • • • • #girlswholift #fitfam #fitness #fitpro #weightlifting #westsidebarbell #powerlifting #strong #personaltrainer

A photo posted by Sarah Wyland (@cvillebarresarah) on

I get that question a lot when people learn that I lift weights. People tend to associate lifting weights with big muscles and bodybuilder physiques. And it’s true that those things can and do happen when lifting weights.

However, lifting weights is incredibly beneficial for women. I started lifting heavy in June, and the changes I’ve seen in my body have been drastic. My body composition has changed significantly. Even though my weight hasn’t changed all that much in the last six months, my body fat percentage has consistently gone down, as has my clothing size, while my amount of lean muscle has increased (hence the minimal change in weight). 

Outside of physique changes, I’m infinitely stronger. By stronger, I don’t just mean the ability to bench press 100+ pounds. I feel stronger. Tasks like carrying my groceries up the four flights of stairs to my apartment or moving my couch at 11 PM on a Saturday night because I decided on a whim to re-decorate the living room are easy. I’m also more confident. My improved confidence has been the greatest takeaway from following a consistent lifting program.

Despite the common “bulk up” myth, it’s actually very hard for women to bulk up. We simply lack the testosterone to do so. Women who do desire to bulk up often have to take supplements and follow specialized diets. Don’t let the fear of bulking stop you from picking up a barbell.

I strongly believe in the benefits of women lifting weights. So much so that today, I’m sharing seven reasons women should lift weights.

Burn More Calories

A lot of women turn to cardio to burn calories. While logging a few miles on the treadmill will most certainly achieve that goal, the burn stops when the workout ceases. After a weightlifting session, the body continues to burn calories for hours as the muscles work to repair themselves. Personally, I really love that part of weightlifting – all the food!

Define Your Curves

Have you ever heard the phrase “skinny fat”? The medical term for this is “metabolically obese normal weight.” What the term means is not enough muscle and too much fat, especially around the belly. There are plenty of health risks associated with being “skinny fat” (read about them here), but I’m focusing on the physical side of things. When you start lifting weights and building muscles, you body fat percentages goes down, your amount of lean muscle increases, and your curves become more defined. Trust me, 

More Energy

When I was a “cardio bunny” at the gym, I would get off the elliptical or treadmill after 45 minutes to an hour and be completely devoid of all energy. While my lifting workouts are hard – nothing says “leg day” quite like leaving the gym after squats, only to have to climb those aforementioned stairs – they also leave me with a lot of energy. Lifting boosts those “feel good” chemicals in the brain, leaving you feeling good for hours after your session. 

Bone Health

Perhaps one of the most important reasons women should lift weights is for bone health. We all know women are prone to osteoporosis as they age. Bones begin to deteriorate, particularly from under use. Adding resistance training to your workout routine helps maintain and even increase bone density, leading to stronger bones and a reduced risk of developing diseases like osteoporosis or osteopenia down the road. 

A Healthier Heart

Technically, your blood pressure goes up when lifting and stays elevated immediately after a training session. In the long run, however, researchers at the University of Michigan found that people who did three resistance loading workouts a week for two months decreased their diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number) by an average of eight points. That reduces the risk of a stroke by 40 percent and the chance of a heart attack by 15 percent. The heart is, after all, a muscle. 

Improved Balance

As your body becomes stronger, particularly your core, your balance improves. This becomes especially important as women age. Essentially, strength training aids in keeping the fast-twitch muscle fibers we use for strength training from deteriorating. These fibers help with the speed and power movements and can contract quickly. Basically, they help catch you when you feel yourself start to fall. 

Confidence

One of the biggest reasons women should lift weights? The confidence factor. You feel like an utter badass when you squat twice your body weight or rip a deadlift off the floor. You truly feel like you can take on the world. I know I walk taller (and straighter – between lifting and barre, my posture is really improving!) now that I know just how strong I am.

I promise you, you are stronger than you think you are.

The hardest part in weightlifting is getting started. It’s intimidating, to stand in front of a squat rack and think “what am I supposed to do?” There are a number of good programs out there, but I highly encourage you to work with someone knowledgeable about lifting, at least for a few sessions. I can’t stress enough how important it is to lift weights correctly. Proper form and technique go a long way in preventing injury, and also ensures that you’re becoming the strongest version of yourself.

If you have questions about lifting weights, feel free to email me – I’m a certified personal trainer through the American Council on Exercise, definitely not some random woman who loves to lift heavy things (although I suppose I’m that, too!).

What are your thoughts on women and weight training?

(If you’re in the Charlottesville area and want to get into weight training, I highly recommend The Gym – I’m there four days a week, and the coaching is top notch!)

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