Lifting heavy weights is certainly nothing new, I remember the dumbbells lying around our house, and the weight bench that my brothers all used. Lots of guys seem to go through that phase of wanting to look a bit more ‘built’. Of course over time the weights bench became more of a place to hang their clothes rather than a piece of exercise equipment but at least there was still an attempt at getting strong. It’s interesting that back then not once did it even occur to me that it was something that I should also be getting involved in. I played hockey at school, maybe went for the odd jog but lifting heavy things never entered my head. In fact, not one of my female friends would have exercised in this way. Isn’t it funny how we pigeon hole how we are expected to behave because of our gender? Perhaps this isn’t so much the case today as thankfully the world and its attitude is gradually changing. Now it is much more acceptable for women to lift weights, get strong, and feel empowered doing so. It is great that there is a shift in attitude, however there are still some deep-rooted beliefs that women will get huge and manly if they lift weights.
If you take a quick scan around the gym, women tend to be on the elliptical trainer or treadmill, perhaps on the bikes, but you don’t often see them down in the free weights area. Of course this is a sweeping generalisation, and it is great to see the exceptions. However, I do believe that some women feel slightly intimidated in this part of the gym. There are a few key aspects that I can address to help change this. Firstly I think we need to get confident in our technique, once we know we are good at a task we normally aren’t so worried about what people think. This may mean getting a few personal training sessions when you can afford it but it will help in the long run immensely. Secondly if you can find a friend with the same goals to workout with down in that intimidating area for the first few sessions it is much more fun, and you forget your surroundings. I also find that music helps a huge amount, when you have your earphones in you really don’t care what is going on around you. Those are some practical ideas, but if we think about the amazing benefits it can bring, and I’m not just talking about being able to fit nicely into your clothes – although this tends to be an added bonus, the system wide improvements should be the main catalyst to getting you motivated. I want to discuss the important changes that happen within the body when weight-bearing exercises are carried out.
Benefits of Lifting Weights.
It is probably best not to take your bones for granted as once they start to break down you could have a lot of problems to deal with in later life. As we get older of course there is a degree of degeneration, however I think it is possible to give your body the best possible chance to deal with the ageing process. Resistance training has shown to increase bone density along with elevated blood levels of osteocalcin, a marker for bone grown.
You Won’t get Big & Bulky
You will not end up looking huge, we don’t have enough testosterone to do so, if you see women that are unusually large they are trying extremely hard to do so and if that is their aim who are we to judge.
Protect Your Hard Earned Muscles.
Muscles will protect your bones as you get older, I don’t know about you but I don’t particularly want to end up frail and brittle in old age, so right now is the time to enhance what we have. If you enjoy running I say great, but perhaps don’t over do it as chronic cardio tends to lead to a more lean frame with less muscle mass. Therefore, incorporating strength building into a weekly workout will help maintain muscle mass. Deep squats, deadlifts, bent over rows, and kettle bells will all shred fat and build on lean muscle. Protection at its best!
I would love to hear from any ladies out there that are seeing the benefit of strength training; I personally feel a huge improvement – none of that back strain and pain that I thought was a sign of getting older, better posture, and a general feeling of overall strength. Is now the time to step off the treadmill and venture into some new exercises? I think so.
- Humphries, B., Newton, R.U., Bronks, R., Marshall, S., McBride, J., Triplett-McBride, T., Häkkinen, K., Kraemer, W.J., Humphries, N. (June, 2000).Effect of exercise intensity on bone density, strength, and calcium turnover in older women. In Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. Retrieved from http://www.researchgate.net/profile/Robert_Newton/publication/12455327_Effect_of_exercise_intensity_on_bone_density_strength_and_calcium_turnover_in_older_women/links/0912f51229f5d531f7000000.pdf