From the first time I stepped foot into a powerlifting gym I knew I had fallen in love. It wasn’t the chains hanging on the wall or the barbells stacked ten plates deep, it was the vibe that resonated throughout the entire room. The intensity within those four walls fed my competitive nature and sparked something deep inside of me. My passion for lifting was ignited on that day and continues to grow in each day following. While powerlifting may be the poison I chose, lifting as a woman has been a strong part of my development as an athlete. This, coupled with my experience as a personal trainer, has shown me that women within the gym are not always comfortable venturing into the weight room. Seeing both sides of the coin, I wanted to tell you a few simple truths about weight lifting that may ease the mind of any novice female lifter.
1. Lifting weights (even if they’re heavy) does not make you bulky!
Most women have the misconception that moving weight will negatively affect their body, making them gain excessive size. The opposite is actually true! Using resistance when training will actually lean out your frame and create a tighter look. I know what you’re thinking, you’re used to seeing female body builders with loads of bulk and are afraid to end up in the same boat. In order to make that physique a reality extreme supplementation and diet must follow suit. Don’t blame the weights! Picking up more than five pounds in the gym will only benefit you on your road to a fitter you.
2. You CAN burn fat and drop the pounds by lifting.
I have found that women’s traditional school of thought, in regards to losing weight, involves hours on the treadmill or other pieces of cardio equipment. By integrating weights into your training you can easily raise your heart rate and set a torch to fat! Circuit training with resistance, such as kettlebells or dumbbells, will allow you to strengthen your muscles and at the same time lower your body fat percentage.
3. Don’t worry, no one is staring.
So often while training female clients I notice their concern with how an exercise makes them look. I’m here to tell you ladies that no one is watching you while you workout! Do not be intimidated to venture into the weight area and try out an exercise or two. If anything you will be showing the boys who’s boss! As you progress with your lifting career you will begin to understand that resistance training takes plenty of focus and concentration. That being said, everyone around you is far too concerned about getting their pump on to concentrate on your lifts.
4. You can do everything a man can do.
Ladies its OK to shoulder press, squat, and bench. Just because you won’t be moving five hundred pounds the first time you step under the bar doesn’t mean that you should limit yourself! Basic movements and exercises do not discriminate. If you are looking for results it is important to incorporate these core elements into your routine. The same goes for the intensity of your workout. Sweating should be welcome and if you aren’t leaving a little shaky after leg day you’re doing something wrong.
5. Start lifting and start gaining respect.
One of the greatest benefits I have experienced as a female lifter is the support I receive, not only from men but other women as well. By understanding how to weight train and putting that knowledge into action others will take notice. Use your training as an avenue to get to know other women within your gym. Some of the strongest friendships I have created have been within the gym with other female lifters. Respect is not given, its earned, and the easiest place to earn that respect begins in the weight room.
Being a woman in the gym can be a powerful thing! By understanding resistance training you will begin to mold not only your body, but your mind as well. Never let fear come into play while you’re at the gym! There are many great resources that can assist you in learning about weight training, whether it be an article online or even your local gym expert. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or to make a mistake. All lifters, new and old, can learn something new. So ladies, next time you’re getting your lift on remember to keep your head held high and to lift something heavy!