If you haven’t read about why everyone should incorporate resistance training into their fitness routine, go ahead and read it now. It’s that important. After you read it, come back here and we will look at some specific issues facing women and strength training.
Now that we are all up to speed, let me open with a question. What is the percentage of women in America that regularly lift weights? According to the National Center for Health Statistics, only about 21% of women are strength training at least twice a week.
While that’s a start, it’s not good enough.
So, Why Don’t More Women Lift Weights Regularly?
Good question. But honestly, it’s pretty easy for those of us with knowledge of the benefits of strength training to ask that question.
Not everyone has that same knowledge. And that’s ok. If you’ve never done any type of resistance training before, there is no better time to start than right now.
I mean, we can’t change the past but it’s up to you to shape your future, so let’s get on with it.
- The number one reason I hear for why women don’t regularly lift weights is that they are afraid they are going to end up muscle-bound and bulky. I understand that fear ladies, but rest easy because the odds of that happening are slim and none. The reason behind this is so simple that it’s easy to over look. According to the NIH, women produce 8-10% of the testosterone that men do, and this hormone is what your body needs to build excess muscle mass. So, since you ladies have so much less naturally occurring testosterone in your system, you don’t have to worry about piling on the muscle. It’s literally not possible.
- Some women may feel like they don’t know how to perform most strength training exercises safely and properly. While I wouldn’t force anyone to do a certain exercise they don’t feel safe doing, not knowing how to do the exercise isn’t a good excuse. At any gym in America, there are staff members available that will be more than happy to demonstrate the proper technique of any given exercise to you. If you work out in a place without trained staff members, i.e. gym at an apartment complex, work, etc., you can always ask people who are working out to help you. You may need to use a little tact about when to ask them, but most people will be glad to offer some assistance to anyone who is striving to get themselves in better shape. And if that’s not an option, you can always find demonstrations of every exercise known to man on the internet. Just search for the name of the exercise and you’ll find it, probably with a video as well.
- Another reason women may feel leery of strength training is that some may feel intimidated using the weights in the gym, especially if there are a bunch of muscle head guys grunting, flexing, and carrying on in the free weight area of the gym. To be honest, I’ve even been a little intimidated before lifting weights when all the guys are grunting and slamming weights in the vicinity. There are ways to overcome this intimidation though. By working out at different times of day, you may find a different, more welcoming crowd in the weight area. You can also grab a few dumbbells and take them to a different part of the gym to do your workout there, perhaps a group exercise room that isn’t being used. Or, do your strength training on the machines that a lot of the muscle heads think they are way too good for, which is a ridiculous notion by the way.
While these reasons to avoid exercise are legitimate, at the end of the day they are nothing but excuses. And once you can get yourself past the excuses phase and you actually begin strengthening your muscles, you will begin experiencing some of the benefits of strength training. Such as…
- Muscle tone and definition. There are few things more attractive than having muscular definition on your body. By lifting weights, your muscles react by growing stronger and getting denser in order to be able to handle the additional stresses you are putting on them. This helps to create the curves that women love, and also helps draw attention away from any trouble spots you may still be working on. Also, improving that muscle tone goes a long way towards eliminating any unwelcome jiggle that you may have.
- Muscle fires up your metabolism. Muscle cells are literally the fat furnaces of the body. So, by taxing them with resistance training and forcing them to work hard, they help to burn additional fat after the workout is completed. Talk about getting more bang for your workout buck!
- Strength training makes you feel stronger–physically and mentally. After a good weight workout, you just feel stronger. And your view of yourself may start changing a little bit. You start to believe you are capable of accomplishing things that you didn’t think were possible physically, and that positive vibe will seep into other areas of your life as well.
A good fitness plan is all encompassing. Cardio workouts are very important, but they are no more important than a good strength training workout is either. So ladies, make time for both in your next workout. Don’t worry about whatever fears or reservations you may have either, since the benefits are well worth it. I promise.
So whether you feel like you can take on a bigger role at the office, put up with the short comings of you husband, or make it through another day of the kids screaming and the house needing to be cleaned, a good resistance workout routine can help you get it done.
Because a strong woman is a confident woman.
And, from this man’s perspective at least, a strong woman is a sexy woman.
What things have kept you from strength training regularly in the past? Or what have been the biggest benefits of incorporating strength training that you have noticed? Leave me a comment to let me know!