Ladies, you need to start picking up things that weigh more than a cat.
Men, you need to stop being threatened by women who can pick up things that weigh more than you do and start encouraging the ladies in your life to lift!
Lifting heavy things is awesome. Not because it makes you a bad ass (it does that too), but because it makes you healthier and stronger AND leaner. It is high time we put aside the misconceptions of women and weightlifting and focus on why women (and everyone) need to add strength training to their fitness playbook.
I would almost bet money that every woman reading this has either believed or believes at least one of these:
- Lifting weights makes women bulky
-Lifting weights is bad for your joints
-Lifting weights is dangerous
Ew, do you smell that? I do. It's BULL CRAP.
Lifting weights makes women bulky. Really? Well your definition of bulky and mine may differ, but if you are picturing something like this lovely lady to the right, I can assure you, that will not happen. Muscles like that are a major struggle for men to achieve. Men. Who have the genetic makeup and hormones needed for large muscles. It's very difficult for them, so why would it happen easily to you? It won't. Unless you get some steroids AND work at it constantly AND eat a super strict diet. Then, maybe. If your perception of bulky means anything above the mass of a Paris fashion model, then yeah, you might get "bulky".
Let's lump the next two together- lifting weights is bad for your joints and dangerous. It can be. If you do it wrong. Proper form and technique along with mobilizing, warm-ups and recovery will drastically reduce injury. I'm not gonna lie and say no one ever gets hurt lifting weights. But you can't tell me that there are no injuries with running, either. Heck, people DIE getting out of the shower! And you know what's REALLY hard on your joints? Carrying around a bunch of excess weight from being out of shape. Knee replacement, anyone?
If you don't want to get hurt or bulky, its pretty simple ladies- lift safely, train with someone who knows what they are doing, and lay off the 'roids. Mmmkay?
The FACT is that lifting weights doesn't do ANY of these awful things. It DOES do a whole bunch of really great things, like help you become healthier and stronger. When you list off all the goals you want to achieve concerning your health and fitness, you may be surprised to see how strength training can play a significant role in helping you reach those goals! Yoga and ellipticals most definitely have their place, but don't shy away from the barbell! Here are some great reasons to give lifting a shot:
1. Healthy bones. You can drink your milk, and even get your calcium supplement chewy things, but the fact is that as women age, bone mass (and muscle mass) decrease. You know that whole osteoporosis thing? Yep. Resistance training will help your body hang on to its bone mass and decrease your risk of osteoporosis.
2. More caloric bang for your buck!!! Your body continues to use energy (IE burn calories) for hours after you lift weights. People- especially women- tend to believe the best way to burn calories is lots of cardio, all the time. But stacked up against cardio, weight training comes out out on top because of the fact that your body continues to burn calories for such an extended amount of time and while endurance training will help you shed pounds, those pounds are not just fat. It is fat and muscle. (Although we believe in an all-inclusive approach to fitness- being well-rounded in 10 domains, including cardiovascular and respiratory endurance- women aren't afraid to run a mile but are scared to death to pick up a barbell. Thus this blog.)
Warning, things are about to get geeky.
After an intense strength training session your body requires more oxygen. When you use more oxygen, you use more calories and create a thermogenic effect which increases your metabolism. So, you are getting stronger, you are getting leaner, (NOT skinnier, leaner. There is a difference, I'll come back to that) and your body is processing the calories you are taking in more efficiently.
You already know that every movement contributes to your caloric burn. Every movement, even moving your lips involves contracting muscles. The more muscles you use during a day, the more calories you burn. The more complex and difficult those contractions are, the more you burn. The more lean body mass you have, the more you burn. Now, back to that whole skinny vs lean thing.
5. Healthy heart. Women are at a higher risk for heart disease than men. Because lifting weight tends to decrease your waist size, cholesterol and blood pressure, it can help prevent heart issues too. We often hear stories of people on multiple medications for blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, etc. who are able to reduce if not stop medication once they have begun training.
6. Confidence. I would like to meet a woman who hasn't, at some point in her life, struggled with self-confidence. We nitpick ourselves all the time. There is always the question of being good enough, pretty enough, smart enough- whatever. I look at my 8 year old daughter and see so much of myself in her. I began the self-bashing at her age. No one likes me. I'm not pretty. I can't do that. I'm not good at anything. On and on and on. I do NOT want her to repeat my cycle. I want her to be the strong, healthy, confident woman that it took me waaay too long to become. I'm glad she sees me and my fellow lady lifters every day. Aside from getting physically stronger, she is seeing the benefits. There is something liberating about picking up something heavy, putting it down, and picking it back up again. Feeling strong, having determination, and finally feeling confident is a reason I believe a lot of women love to lift.
To wrap it up, weightlifting can benefit pretty much EVERY aspect of your life! It is a big part of what we do here. If you are coming from a background where the heaviest thing you've lifted is a carseat, 10 years ago, never fear! We will be right there with you to show you how to do it, step by step so you can be healthier, stronger and more confident!