There’s been a shift happening in the fitness world lately and it’s great! Women everywhere have started ditching the cardio equipment for weights and are seeing real results. BUT there’s too many women out there who still think that if they leave their cardio comfort zone and venture to weights, that they will bulk up and start to look manly. So, let’s bust this myth right now. We will go over the most common reasons I hear as to why women are turned off by pumping iron, and why these fears are usually irrational.
Reason #1: I don’t want to bulk up.
First things first. Fitness should be a personal experience. Workouts should be tailored to your specific set of goals. So, some women aim for a more muscular physique while others shoot for thin, and both are great. The trick is finding the training style to help you get to your ideal body type. The women (and men for that matter) who look ‘bulky’ train really hard to look like that. Most women don’t have high enough levels of testosterone to build bulky muscles from a few strength training sessions per week. The benefits of resistance training FAR outweigh any fears you may have. Strength training stimulates the human growth hormone, which is the most powerful fat-burning hormone in the body. So not only are you burning fat, but you will gain muscle, giving you the toned look that cardio alone won’t. Along with body composition, strength training helps increase bone density, improves mobility, and increases metabolism. The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn during everyday life. So if you identify with reason number 1, then fear no more! All you need to do is focus on your rep range. This means choose weights that are a bit more moderate and lift reps of 12-20. This way you will still build muscle, but you will recruit more type 1 muscle fibers (slow twitch), which create a leaner physique. Not only will you age gracefully with the bountiful health benefits listed above, but your toned arms will also thank you come tank top season. :)
Reason #2: I don’t know how.
Valid excuse. Lifting with improper form can cause more harm than good and puts you at risk for injury. This is where hiring a personal trainer comes in handy, but if that isn’t an option for you then building an arsenal of free-weight exercises is a great way to start. If you’re starting basic, single joint exercises like bicep curls, triceps extensions, and a shoulder press are going to be the place to start. From there, squats, lunges, and step-ups are among my favorite multi-joint exercises, because they use big muscle groups, which burn a lot of calories while making you stronger. Once you get proper squat and lunge form down, you can start combining them with the upper body exercises to increase intensity.
Reason #3: It’s intimidating.
This is a really common concern. Being intimidated by the fee-weight section of the gym can stem from a range of rationale. If your concern is that you will look silly because you don’t know what you are doing, see the above tip to help you out. If you are worried about being outnumbered by meathead, iron-pumping dudes, there are a couple of ways to approach this. First, dumbbell racks are typically aligned by weight. Since you are likely working on muscle endurance, you can stick to the lighter side of the rack, and won’t have to worry about mixing it up with the power lifters. Secondly, don’t sweat it! Anyone who is lifting free-weights already knows the benefits of doing so, and won’t be thrown off by women lifting. Just be confident and do your thing!