What women should know about lifting weights
Walk into any gym, and you’ll notice the weights area peppered with men, maybe making you believe almost subconsciously that weightlifting simply isn’t for women.
The truth? Women’s and men’s bodies both respond overwhelmingly positively to lifting weights.
“There’s the common misconception that a woman will look bulky if she weightlifts,” says Jessy Beyer-Trinkner, a physical therapist at Aurora Sports Health in Neenah, Wis. “First of all, there is nothing wrong with building muscle and looking muscular. Second, research typically shows just the opposite in women – long, lean, defined muscles without the bulk.”
Here’s what you need to know about weightlifting if you’re a woman:
Building muscle makes you look leaner.
If you’re concerned packing on muscle is going to make you look bulky, think again. Women only produce a fraction of the amount of testosterone men produce, which is one of the hormones responsible for muscle bulking. Unless you’re a professional competitive weightlifting athlete, chances are you’ll end up looking leaner.
Weightlifting helps you burn more fat all day long.
“The more muscle you have, the more calories you’re burning on a daily basis,” Beyer-Trinkner explains. “This is especially true for dangerous visceral fat in the belly region.”
While low levels of testosterone in women prevent women from packing on loads of muscle, you are still building muscle regardless, leading to a higher level of calories burned every day.
Your bones will get stronger.
Lifting weights triggers your bones to become denser to support the resistance you’re imposing on them. If you’re new to weightlifting, keep in mind that it takes time for your bones to gain mass.
Lifting weights is great for your heart.
Cardio isn’t the only thing that will strengthen your heart. Weight training is just as beneficial. “When you exercise each muscle group at least two times per week, give your body at least two days to rest in between,” says Beyer-Trinkner, “You’ll be doing your heart a world of wonders.”
You’ll have more energy and feel less stressed.
As with any workout routine, lifting weights releases endorphins, chemicals released by the body to relieve stress and pain. In addition, people who weight lift and deal with depression tend to experience fewer symptoms.
You don’t have to be a pro to start lifting weights.
Whether you choose to lift weights at home or at the gym, remind yourself that everybody started somewhere in their weightlifting journey. If you’re just starting out with the weights, begin with the machines instead of free weights, and don’t be afraid to read the instructions on the machines. Or, if you are uncomfortable instructing yourself, find a gym that offers personal training.
Are you trying to watch your weight? Take a free, quick online assessment to learn more about your ideal weight by clicking here.
About the Author
health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Aurora Health sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.