I may have learned the hard way, but I’m better for it. Like most women I too was petrified of weight training. I thought that if I lifted a dumbbell or barbell I would risk my chances of having children. I thought that my muscles would get so big that people would mistake me for my brother. So my first day at the gym, I went straight for the treadmill. Not because I wanted to, but because all the other women were doing so. I made my move to the gym’s classes, where I found myself doing the opposite of what the instructor was saying. “Come on ladies, right arm up, left leg out!” the instructor would shout. And there I am, left arm up, right leg out – a total mess. My wires must have been crossed.
So I wasn’t having the greatest gym experience ever and found myself bored and lost, thinking how can I improve my health if I have fitness ADD?
I paced back and forth a few times towards the weight room to only find men. I was definitely intimidated by all of the weights, and the big buff guys grunting and dropping their dumbbells on the floor. I instantly imagined the weights falling on my toe, or if I was to do a dumbbell chest press what if I dropped the dumbbell on my face? What a nightmare.
After a few days of the pacing, my sister came with me to the gym. That was the day that I felt a sudden spark in my life. I fell in love with getting out of my comfort zone, and discovering what my body was capable of thanks to my sister who managed to change my entire world around. Because of her, I was able to get in the zone and started lifting. And suddenly nobody else existed – not the big, buff grunting guys, not the hyped up instructor. Just me and my weights.
Besides the obvious, there are so many reasons why women steer clear of weights. The most common fear women have is losing their femininity. They fear they’ll look like a man – a big, buff, grunting man. If we take it back to the basics of understanding the human body, understanding the body of a woman and understanding hormones we will learn that our testosterone levels are not as high as the testosterone levels in men. Translated that means, a woman could never look like a man because a woman is not a man after all. We many not have testicles, but we do produce testosterone, only in small doses though. And because testosterone is the primary hormone in building those bulging biceps, it would be impossible for a woman to add on the mass that a man can.
Still not convinced on lifting weights? Other than maintaining your femininity, weight training comes with lots more benefits. You’ll reduce your risk of many health problems including Osteoporosis, Diabetes, Heart Disease, Arthritis, lower back pain and decrease depression. And to the list:
Higher Metabolic Rates
Higher Metabolism results in shedding more body fat. The more weights you lift, the higher your metabolic rate will be. When you lift you are creating a degree of resistance with the weights and start tearing muscles. In order to repair those tears your body will expend more calories post-workout. In other words, the more muscle contractions that occur in a day, the more calories you will burn. Cardiovascular exercise is great for burning stored energy, but when you are done with your cardio exercise you are also done with burning your calories. The leaner mass you have, the more muscle contractions you will produce. Your body will be more efficient with its calories as you increase your strength and lean mass.
We’re told that nothing comes easy and that change happens when you get out of your comfort zone. You have to do something you’ve never done to get something you’ve always wanted. Getting out of your comfort zone when it comes to lifting weights could not be more true. Your body and muscles will not adapt or take shape if you are giving them two pound dumbbells. To see greater muscle definition, you must challenge them.
The everyday activities become much easier as you become stronger. You will not have to wait for someone stronger than you to help with lifting boxes, suitcases, groceries etc… The physical strength you gain also means you reduce your chances of injury. Tell your fear of lifting heavier weights that they are no longer welcome, that their lease is up, their stay has expired, because you are investing in yourself. You are a lot stronger than you think!
The final benefit and most important benefit you get from weight training is not the physique that you get from exercising, but the way that you feel. I could tell you nothing compares to the way weight training makes you feel. And that’s spoken from a true convert. The physique is the plus – it’s the cherry on top. The feeling of accomplishment, how much you pushed yourself, how far you came, overcoming your fear, your increased confidence, the discovery of discipline, dedication, determination, patience, positive self talk, and emotional independence you thought you never had – that’s the whole sundae and worth the weight.