Why are women afraid of weight training? Many female clients come to me with the goal of losing body fat, losing weight, becoming fit, toning up, etc., but then refuse to lift anything heavier than a 5-pound weight!
“I don’t want to bulk up,” they say.
The simple fact is, women should be lifting heavy weights. Yet, fitness magazines show models standing on one leg on top of a BOSU ball and doing tricep kickbacks with 3-pound dumbbells. It has been embedded in women’s minds that to “tone up” we should be using light weights and high repetitions.
This style of training promotes muscular endurance which is the ability of the muscles to perform an activity for a prolonged period of time, however, it does not increase lean tissue.
For anyone, man or woman, wishing to increase lean muscle tissue and decrease body fat, you have to lift weights that are appropriately heavy.
Unless you are taking steroids the fear of looking “manly” is unfounded. Women naturally lack the amounts of testosterone needed to build bulky muscles. Instead, you will look learner, stronger and fit.
Have you ever overheard this: “The muscle I build will burn into fat when I stop exercising”?
Why would you stop exercising? There is no way that muscle can turn into fat or vice versa.
Muscle and fat are two completely different kinds of tissue and one cannot magically turn into another.
A major benefit of increasing muscle mass is the positive effect it has on your metabolism. Muscle is a very metabolically active tissue, meaning it burns a lot of calories when you are exercising and when you are at rest.
The more muscle tissue you have, the faster your metabolism, and who doesn’t want that?
Many women that I work with are intimidated by the weight room and all of the sweaty, grunting men. They are worried that they guys will be looking at them, making fun of them or be offended by the presence of a female in their “manly environment”.
Personally, I enjoy the looks of shock I get when I load up the squat bar and nods of appreciation are bestowed upon me when I knock out a set of pull-ups!
If only more women realized, most of the men working out aren’t worried about what anyone else is doing. Once my female clients realize this, they start to assert themselves in the weight room and gain a real sense of empowerment that transfers over to their daily lives. They have more self-confidence and a better self-image.
I am not suggesting that you must stop doing cardio or going to your favorite group exercise classes; aerobic training is an important part of total body fitness. But if you are serious about losing body fat and getting stronger muscles and bones, then ZUMBA should be a compliment to your weight training, not the focus of your exercise routine.
Just like starting any new exercise program, be sure to get your physician’s clearance first. If you are unsure about proper weight training technique and program design, please seek the help of a professional trainer or experience fitness professional.
So ladies, please step away from those dinky, pink, neoprene-covered dumbbells. Let go of the images you see in the magazines and on TV. Lift heavy, get lean, and feel great!