For decades there’s been this fear for women that lifting weights…
“makes you look like a man!”
“gives you BIG macho muscles!”
There’s a common misconception that lifting heavy weights and performing strength training is bad for women but the truth is that it’s actually the best way to burn fat and tone up.
In this post i’m going to explain why women need to lift weights and give you some tips to help you develop a leaner, more defined body.
The Misconception of Toning…
The days of copying Jane Fonda doing a gazzilion reps of leg raises are long gone (for some though the lycra pants remain! lol!). It’s getting more and more popular and socially acceptable for women to be in the weights room and so it should be!
Many women still believe that the key to a leaner, more athletic looking body is to lift light weights and do lots of reps. The truth is that this could not be further from the truth, in fact it’s the total opposite – women should lift heavy weights, and perform lower reps!
Hormonal Differences Between Men & Women…
One of the most off-putting beliefs about lifting weights is that they will make you bulky. This is not true, especially for women. It’s incredibly difficult to get big muscles, even if you are a man with high levels of testosterone!
Unless you are eating a high amount of calories, and taking performance enhancing drugs most females will never grow big muscles. It’s pretty much genetically impossible!
I often meet women at my personal training consultations who fear lifting weights for the reasons outlined in this post. Once i’ve explained to them the benefits and cleared up any confusion they are often amazed at the results they achieve combined with a custom meal plan.
In over 8,000 personal training sessions I have never had any women (or man!) say “i’ve gotten too muscularly!”. It just doesn’t happen because building muscle is hard and it doesn’t happen overnight.
The best way to improve body shape and burn fat is to get strong in the gym. If you are a beginner it’s best to start with machines and build up a baseline of fitness, machines are also much safer.
I would also recommend hiring a personal trainer so that you perform the exercises correctly and prevent injury. Once you’ve built up a baseline of strength you can move to free weights.
From my experience it’s best to focus on compound exercises such as: deadlifts (conventional, sumo, RDL), squats, pull ups, military press, etc. Most of these moves however are complex and it’s best to take guidance from an expert personal trainer.
A lot of people also lack the flexibility and mobility to perform such advanced exercises, so this is why it’s very important to do regular foam rolling and stretching at the end of a session.
Like with anything in life the more you practice the better you’ll get. If you lift weights regularly (3-4x per week) for 6 months you’ll notice a massive change to your body shape, providing you combine with an effective nutritional plan.
How Many Reps Should I do?
High reps still have a place, but at the end of a session. What you want to do is put your strength training at the beginning of each workout, and then as the session progresses go to higher reps. To give you an example of a workout I do with my female personal training clients…
Workout 1 : Full Body
- 5 minute warm up
- 5 mins foam rolling
- 5 mins mobility work
- Deadlifts – 3 sets x 3-5 reps
- DB rows – 3 sets x 6-10 reps
- DB clean and squat press – 3 sets x 10-15 reps
- Alternating lunges – 3 sets x 20 reps
- 5-10 minute stretch and cool down
Basically as the session goes on the reps get higher. The first 1-2 exercises are usually always focused on strength work (3-5 reps).
Thanks for reading, for more free information please check out this post I wrote – A WOMANS GUIDE TO LIFTING WEIGHTS : EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW IN LESS THAN 1,000 WORDS!
For further proof that weights do not make you bulky check out some of the LEP Transformations…
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