There seems to be this old tale that women who lift weights are manly and will have ginormous muscles. Well, today I wanted to chat about WHY it is important for women to lift weights, and more importantly, lift heavier than they think they can lift.
There are so many benefits to weight lifting. We will get into that, and also chat about how to get started.
So, you're ready to start lifting but have no idea where to go? If you plan on attending a gym, it may be worth booking an appointment with a personal trainer to at least get familiar with the strength training area. At my gym they have it separated by cardio equipment, strength training machines/dumb bells, and another room with another rack of dumb bells and things like yoga mats, foam rollers, resistance bands/tubes, and kettle bells. Having someone show you around the gym will not only answer any questions you may have about the facility, but make you feel more comfortable. Being comfortable is HUGE in starting a strength training journey (or any health journey for that matter), as you will be more inclined to stick to it if you don't feel awkward or out of place.
That's not to say that feeling awkward won't happen, because I can guarantee that it will happen! However, getting your bearings will help make things easier in the long run.
To get started means to simply put on your work out gear and get going. If buying a new exercise outfit will motivate you to take the first steps, then by all means, do what you need to do. That being said, in order to begin a program you just have to START, so start now, whatever that may look like for you!
When it comes to strength training, having a plan will allow you to visually see what you need to do in the gym. A plan tailored to your specific needs will also alleviate that, "OMG what do I do today!?" feeling that can arise. Start small to start - say two times per week - and build up as you start to feel stronger in the gym. Soon enough, you will have a work out split (another word for plan) that can target multiple parts of your body.
For me, my workout split looks something like this:
Legs twice per week, shoulders/triceps twice per week, and one day for back and biceps. Occasionally I will mix in some back/biceps on my shoulder days, but it is completely up to you. Every 4-6 weeks I switch things up (providing I am seeing results), and I mix some cardio in there as well because I love me some running! : )
Again, your first steps into strength training may be at-home YouTube videos, and that's okay, too! Do what works for you and what makes your body feel good.
So, WHY should women strength train?
I'll tell you why I personally do it. I strength train for mental clarity, for challenging my body, so I can withstand day to day activities with ease, so I can age gracefully (or so I am hoping anyway), and so I can be a better me.
You can tell when I haven't worked out because I am grouchy, irritable, and I won't be as in tune with my body or my mood. This is important to me as I want to be present and mindful in my interactions out there in the world, so working out can set the tone for a great day.
However, some other reasons why women should strength train are listed below.
1. You will burn more fat. Strength training builds muscle, and muscle burns more calories and fat while resting. Sure, you burn calories after a run, but not nearly as many as you would after a good strength training session!
2. You will practice the art of mental strength. Yep, you can do one more rep. Yep, you can lift a little bit heavier. Yep, you can do one more squat. Strength training (and athletic training in general) helps train your mind in that whole, "mind-over-matter" sense, which can translate to so many other areas of your life.
3. You'll strengthen your bones, as strength training helps your muscles, bones, ligaments, and tendons adapt under pressure. Your bones will become stronger and more dense, which will help stave off age related degeneration.
4. You will lean out. Yes, weight lifting (combined with a clean diet, OF COURSE) will help your jeans feel looser and make your shirt less tight. This is because muscle takes up less space than fat. Sure, a pound is a pound, but a pound of fat is more voluminous than a pound of muscle. So while you may still weigh the same weight (which I don't recommend going by the number on the scale anyway), you probably look a little slimmer since your body is increasing muscle and decreasing fat.
5. Your HEART will seriously thank you. Strength training and cardiovascular exercise is a God-send for your heart. As you get into better shape, your heart actually doesn't have to work as hard to send blood throughout your body. Exercise reduces blood pressure, and we all know high blood pressure ain't cute.
If you are a woman who has a strength training routine, what does this look like for you? Let me know in the comments! Any AMAZING moves I should try in the gym!?