Lisa Mills, regional fitness trainer for Genesis Fitness, breaks down the stigma women often have around resistance training –
Walk into any gym these days and the landscape has changed… thankfully. Gone are the days where the weights room was full of guys grunting away, with bulging biceps and skimpy singlets. Nowadays you will see just as many women amongst the dumbbells and resistance machines as men – giving them stronger more capable bodies, but also aiding total body transformations.
No, weights won’t bulk you up
Thankfully women are also realising that for the average woman who trains a few days a week in the weights room, that they don’t ‘bulk up’ as once thought – this used to be the main reason women avoided strength training. Sure, there are exceptions to this, for example we can see many incredible female physiques in the world of CrossFit, but it’s important to remember that those women are training for hours a day and their focus is on performance rather than what they look like, so a more muscular physique is seen as an advantage on competition day.
However, for the average woman it would take almost 12 months of consistent training and eating a high protein diet to gain more than one or two kilograms of muscle mass, so it’s safe to say that ‘bulking up’ won’t be a concern. Our hormonal makeup also limits the amount of muscle we can put on.
What are the benefits of lifting weights for women?
If you have toyed with the idea of entering the weights room but are not yet convinced of the benefits, here are a few benefits that may help to convince you:
#1. Lifting weights increases metabolism
Muscle burns more energy (aka calories) than fat, which means that even at rest, your body is working hard to keep you leaner.
#2. Lifting weights reduces injury
Resistance training helps to strengthen muscles and tendons while increasing the flexibility of ligaments, which decrease the risk of one becoming strained or torn. Strength training as you age is also important in terms of fall-prevention.
#3. Lifting weights creates better posture and bone health
Strength training can help you build strong healthy bones, which is essential for fighting off osteoporosis, thus improving your overall posture.
#4. Lifting weights relieves back pain
Lifting weights can help to strengthen the muscles that support your back and core which are two of the major challenges people who sit for long periods of time can suffer from. Stronger muscles help to align your spine (and improve your posture) which alleviates pressure on your lower back. Standing taller can also make you look ‘slimmer’ around the waistline
#5. Lifting weights boosts self-confidence
While the above benefits are all physical, one of the most important things lifting weights can do is to help you feel strong, capable and confident. This can transfer to feeling more confident in a relationship, at work, with family and friends or in situations where you may need to protect yourself.
While we tend to focus as a society on the physical benefits of exercise, it’s actually the mental and emotional improvements that have the biggest impact on a woman’s life. Feeling capable to try new things, achieve bucket list goals and live life the way you want is far easier if your body is strong, especially as you get older.
Getting started with lifting weights
The best way to start down the path of strength training is to join a group personal training program where there’s a high focus on form and technique, or for extra guidance, employ the services of a personal trainer. National gyms like Genesis Health and Fitness have hundreds of highly skilled personal trainers across the country, making it easy to find someone that’s right for you and can effectively guide you on your strength training program.
When you first start lifting weights, you’ll need the guidance of an expert to make sure you move properly, that you lift the right amount of weight and to encourage you to challenge yourself even when you’re feeling a little tired or sore. Normally this occurs within the first two days after your training sessions and usually reduces the days following. Over time you won’t get as sore and will become more confident in lifting heavier and working harder.
Get strong in 2020
Now is the perfect time to set yourself a goal of including some strength training in your exercise program. Whether you join a gym, hire a personal trainer or download one of the many apps on the market that include strength training programs, the positive effects lifting weights can have on your body (and life) can be a game changer. Use this new decade as the catalyst for creating a strong, confident and capable body that helps you live life the way you want.
Lisa Mills has been a Personal Trainer for the past 24 years and is currently a Regional Fitness Manager for Genesis Fitness. She is also part of the National Fitness Team at Genesis where the focus is on innovation and development of new gym programs.