Okay, we have probably all heard and read a million times how important it is for women to lift weights, so why do the majority of women I know still not do it? When I talk with them about it they say the same things we were hearing 10 years ago “I don’t want too get big” is the most popular reply, followed closely by, “I don’t know what I am doing in the weight room and I find it intimidating to be in there.” These are all valid thoughts and feelings, so what can we do to change it for ourselves now and women in the future?
Let’s look at the beginning of weight lifting for men: when they are young, they begin to go in groups where they start to learn the basics of the gym setting, what dumbbells and barbells are used for and how to structure basic workouts where they are encouraged by their coaches and peers to get into the gym and get lifting. If you go into any gym now shortly after school time you can easily see these groups of young men lifting, chatting over weights on their breaks and of course, flexing in the mirror. But where are the young women? If in the gym at all, we might find these women stuck in the cardio area where they are slowly but surely carving out their comfort zone while in the gym. We still don’t see the same social support of getting girls into the gym as we see for the boys, which is silly when you think about it, because young women can benefit from weight lifting just as much as the young men will and do.
Weight lifting is great for so many reasons, not only does it help to strengthen bones and of course muscles, but it helps to shape the body and keep the mind and joints healthy (if done properly). It can help us achieve our activities of daily living more efficiently, have more energy throughout our days, and help us build our self confidence and it doesn’t stop there, the list of benefits is literally endless.
So how can we start to make this change right from the beginning? I think we should throw out these old ideas of “lifting is for the men” and include women. Instead of going to the gym with your best friend every night for spin class, hit up one of your favorite lifters and ask him or her to tag along. Hire a Personal Trainer who can show you the ropes. We need to start to look at our bodies and realize that muscles are muscles, it doesn’t much matter if they are on a male or female frame. They require the same sorts of heavy lifting and progressive overload if you want them to look firm and toned. Women have to take the necessary steps to get out of cardio and group exercise land and into the weight room.
As a female who has been lifting heavy for almost 8 years, I can promise you that you won’t ever get too big; the women that we see on social media or in magazines who are more muscular than what the average woman would prefer have taken certain steps such as specialized exercise programming and nutrition plans that foster that type of muscle growth, as well as in many cases illegal hormonal substances. Without the assistance of a professional and very specific protocols, the probability of that happening to you are basically slim to none.
We need to encourage and educate our daughters and other young women to learn and start these habits early as they will benefit them their entire lives. We need to use our own bodies to show the benefits of weight lifting and help break down the fear surrounding the weight room. We need to help to educate our friends and family members on the weight room basics and above all else we all need to help everyone feel comfortable and welcome in the gym so that men and women alike can have healthy, fit and strong bodies.
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