Should women avoid lifting heavy weights at the gym?

One answer… DO NOT avoid lifting heavy weights! Embrace this.

Women can and should lift heavy, as heavy as they want to!

Lifting weights, overall can aid in weight loss, increase muscle mass, lower inflammation markers, build bone density, lower your risk of osteoporosis and improve brain function.

The reality of this being kept from women in general, is the gender bias when it comes to exercise psychology research. Slowly but surely, scientists are beginning to base their research on women as well as men, when it comes to weight training. For too many years, women have been classed as “smaller men” and receiving the same nutritional and training advice. We are in fact, a lot different from men in terms of our metabolism, muscle function and recovery. One example is that we burn fat as fuel, whereas men use glucose. This requires some thought in terms of your workout routine, as well as the nutrition required for recovery.

Don’t let those old school research or bias blogs cover your eyes to the benefits of strength training, more importantly, lifting heavy.

Here are some theories that you should be aware of, and ignore completely.

5 lies women need to ignore about strength training

  1. You will get really big muscles, like Arnie. Big muscles like Arnie are a results of steroids and testosterone. Don’t forget that we are not genetically programmed to become “massive” of any sort. Women are governed by estrogen, which is a completely different hormone to testosterone. This will never happen with weight training, and you should not let it deter you from starting your strength training journey.
  2. Lifting lighter will give you a leaner shape. Muscles adapt to any given stimulus, including heaver weight. Therefore, we need to alter the stimulus (exercise) and the heaviness of the weight, regularly. This is what will give us the best returns for our efforts. The correct name for this is ‘progressive overload’ Alternating between heavy and light weight is the best way to decrease the risk of your muscles adapting to any given weight. The next step with this is knowing when to place these different methods into your strength training program.
  3. Weight training doesn’t burn as many calories as cardio. I won’t give cardio too much of a bad wrap, as it’s still essential. Things like sprinting, cycling and running, all server a purpose in overall health. But the truth is that cardio alone will not build muscle mass, give you a nice, defined shape or allow you to lose weight as effectively as lifting weights does.
    It is true that you do burn more calories overall when you do your cardio workouts, but in regards to long term benefits, weights have the ability to burn body fat long after your gym session has ended. This is because weight training elevates your metabolism because of the alterations to your metabolism, as well as the fact you have built some muscle.
  4. The weights area is too intimidating for me. I get this, as it can be fearful when you start off. But you must not let the fear deter you from getting in there and changing your body shape. One thing you may not know, is that most of these men don’t have a clue what they are doing! They are just getting in there and having a go.
    Do seek some assistance with a proper strength training program, so that you can target your weight loss goals more effectively. Then, get in the weights area and keep at it. You will be glad you did!
  5. You are too old to get into it now. The truth is, after the age of 35, women begin to experience something called Sarcopenia. The real result of this decline, has nothing to do with ageing, but from the effects of inactivity.
    Of course, it’s understandable that there is a bit of dogma regarding resistance training among older or elderly women. But now is the time to abolish this, and begin to start a trend of self love, self belief as well as taking full charge of our health an wellbeing. This is just a myth, if that. Take on the wonderful benefits of strength training now, in order to re-shape your body, lose weight and become more and more confident in your strength and body composition.

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