Ever find yourself wondering how to get stronger, fitter or leaner? The missing ingredient to your workout just might be weight lifting.
As a gym owner, fitness coach and life-long athlete, I have seen women shy away from weight lifting because they believe a few misconceptions.
First, keep in mind
Lifting heavy weights is not reserved just for men or serious CrossFit athletes. Strength training, especially when you use appropriately heavy weights, has many health benefits for women.
Wait, what’s a heavy weight?
Don’t worry, it’s not as scary as it sounds… it just might be heavier than you’re used to.
When I say heavy weights, I mean the kind of weights that make you take a step back, swallow a little fear, and then take a deep breath and pick it up. Strength takes effort, it takes courage, and it takes getting out of your comfort zone.
The only way to grow is to get uncomfortable. That means a little bit of your grit in exchange for some powerful results.
I’ll be honest
Lifting heavy weights is not easy. Lifting heavy is a discipline — one that will change your body and your life.
Don’t get me wrong – light weights are good, too.
There is a time and place for light weights. You must safely build your strength and starting light is the best way to master technique and build efficiency of movement.
But, the only way to make major strength gains and change your physique is by lifting relatively heavy weights.
I have found that a lot of women are drawn to cardio and lifting lighter weights for a higher number of reps. This is good, however, you will miss out on many health benefits if you always keep it light. Cardio is very effective and has many health benefits, but a workout routine without strength training is incomplete.
Let’s break it down
The heart is a muscle and it can be trained like skeletal muscle. Many believe that aerobic exercise is the best way to train and strengthen the heart. However, strength training has shown to do exactly that but even better and more effectively!
In case you might be asking yourself – but what if my muscles get too big?
Fear not! It takes an immense amount of food, unnatural levels of testosterone, and insane training to bulk up like a man. Women typically have around 10% of the testosterone of men and because of that women develop muscle tone and definition without the size. In other words, it’s near impossible.
So don’t worry – no Popeye arms here!
Instead, imagine this
You begin lifting heavy weights and getting stronger – both physically and mentally.
There is something very empowering about lifting heavy weight. It can help shift your own personal narrative about your body. It’s a way to move your mindset from focusing on what your body looks like to what it can do. It helps you learn what you are capable of and create a body that can help you adapt and handle anything life throws at you.
Did you know, lifting weights boosts the “feel good” chemical in the brain?
It’s true. When you lift weights, endorphins are released which improves your mood and reduces stress. Who doesn’t want that?
As if that’s not enough, here are a 4 more health benefits to lifting heavy weights:
Strength training boosts our metabolism which makes our bodies more efficient at burning calories throughout the day when we are not exercising. It is also one of the most effective ways to increase our insulin sensitivity which means our body can more efficiently use carbohydrates for energy and help the muscle building process instead of storing carbohydrates and converting them to fat.
Build bone density and prevent injury
Strength training not only slows down bone loss but it also helps rebuild bone. It reduces the risk of osteoporosis, fractures and broken bones. Basically, stronger muscles lead to stronger bones which helps reduce the risk of injury.
We should aim for 6-8 hours of quality sleep per night. Many studies have proven that a consistent exercise and strength training program can improve insomnia and sleep duration. Strength training also helps regulate vital bodily functions like blood pressure, metabolism, and resting glucose metabolism. This contributes to stress reduction and quality sleep.
Lifting heavy weights can increase women’s libido (and not just because you feel better and sexier). It is a natural way to elevate your testosterone. Don’t worry, you won’t start growing a beard and raise your testosterone levels to crazy levels. It will simply give you a healthy boost of the sex hormone. Healthy levels of testosterone also help your body regulate other hormones, maintain bone density, and regulate your mood.
Are you ready to start lifting weights? Great, now let’s talk about safety!
First, seeking professional help from a personal trainer or coach is the best way to ensure you are moving correctly. Lifting heavy can be intimidating and having someone to coach you and walk beside you on your journey is so helpful.
So, what’s next?
I would encourage you to join a local gym. If you are worried about the price of membership, think about this… The cost of not pursuing your health is greater than any gym membership.
Here are some questions to ask yourself to make sure you find the right gym for you.
- Do I need a personal trainer or a coach?
- Is the gym location safe and clean?
- Does this community support growth?
- Is the community like-minded? Will I be able to make friends?
- Do the coaches inspire and motivate me?
Once you are moving safely and with efficient and strong form, then you are ready to lift some heavy weights!
By heavy weight, I mean a lifting around 70% or more of your one rep max. A one rep max is the absolute maximum weight you can lift at one time. Once you have that number, you have a great starting place.
Remember, the best and safest way to build strength and reduce the risk of injury is by seeking out professional help. However, if that is not an option, that’s okay! Start slow, stay safe, stick to the basics, and find a pace that works best for you.
This week, I encourage you to try something new. Tweak your workout routine, add some challenging lifts, and discover all that your body can do! You won’t regret it.
Happy lifting, friends!