“I’ll get too bulky.”
“I don’t want to look like a man.”
“People will think I’m being masculine.”
These are just some of the statements I’ve heard women say to me when I ask them if they would consider adding weight training into their fitness routines. Far too often women are turned off by this, mostly because of what society will think of a female lifting; it holds them back from their true fitness potential, in my opinion.
So let’s clear the air about a few things regarding women lifting weights, and perhaps crack some common fitness misconceptions that our patriarchal society imposes on women.
You won’t bulk up unless you want to
Let me make this clear: there is a big difference between toning and bulking up. Women can lift for years and not “bulk up” even a little bit. However, if they are fit and they train their muscles by lifting weights, they may acquire some definition and “tone.” That doesn’t sound so bad, right?
The fact of the matter is that bulking is an equation that has to do with your caloric intake when trying to add muscle mass. Take it from someone who has a very difficult time gaining weight and “bulking,” it is a long, grueling, and slow process that requires a lot of commitment to your nutrition, lots of heavy lifting, and forcing down food even when you are on the verge of vomiting.
Bulking is a meticulous, planned process that rarely happens by accident. So, to my 20something women, do not let this be a reason to completely count out lifting as part of your fitness journey
On the flip side, many female peers have approached me asking for training programs and fitness advice on “getting a flat stomach and better muscle tone in the back and leg area.” Let me give you a hint on how you are going to get your flat stomach and toned legs: Sorry to break it to you, but it’s not bouncing around on that elliptical machine for an hour.
You want abs, legs and a nice butt? Squat heavy. It’s as simple as that. If you must be the anti-lifting female, at the very least, incorporate heavy back squats once or twice a week into your routine.
Here are five benefits to lifting:
- Increased bone density: Do you like breaking bones? Neither do I. A physiological benefit to weight training is increased bone density. It may not seem like a big deal now, but when you’re pushing 60 years old, you may want some strong bones under those muscles.
- Increased metabolism: If your muscles adapt to training, you will increase your body’s metabolism. What does this mean? You’ll also be on your way to a flat stomach – two birds with one stone.
- Improved sleep: Having trouble sleeping? Or perhaps you just can’t get into a steady rhythm? Start lifting, and slow down on the liquid sugar drinks from Starbucks.
- Stress Relief: Women have a lot on their minds. Grab a barbell, let some of it out and love life a little bit more every day.
- Increased Energy: Energy begets energy, if you are revving up your metabolism by lifting weights, your batteries will stay charged longer throughout the day.
Ladies, don’t let your preconceived notions of lifting weights prevent you from reaping the major benefits. Do not let society hold you back from something so rewarding.
Nearly all of my current training partners are females. They are driven, motivated, receptive and beautiful women who bust their asses every day and don’t let me slow down for a second. I am very grateful for them and they don’t let anything hold them back, and neither should you. So go find that barbell and have at it.
Do you have some concerns about lifting? Comment below!