When it comes to women and weight training, there is much confusion. In my years as a personal trainer, the common concerns women have in the weight room are universal.
Women want to be lean and fit yet fear getting big and bulky. As a result they lift light weights doing toning exercises that have little to no impact on their metabolism. Or worse yet, they steer clear of the weight room altogether, favoring the cardio machines and group fitness classes. If this is you, keep reading, as I answer five of the most common questions women have regarding weight training.
5 Questions Women Have About Weight Training
1. How much weight should I use?
Put away the pink dumbbells my lady friends, as research shows heavier weights not only increase muscular strength but also decreases body fat more than using light weights. If you’ve been led to believe that using light weight and doing a lot of reps will “tone”, it is simply not true.
When you are new to strength training, you will find yourself getting stronger very quickly. If you want to get stronger, healthier and leaner, you need to continually challenge your muscles. This means doing one more rep, adding more weight or resting less from workout to workout.
2. Won’t I get big and bulky?
To be honest, I am surprised this fear is still alive and well. Unless you are training specifically for bulk and have the hormones necessary to build bulk, you will not get big and bulky from weight training.
The two hormones largely responsible for increasing muscle mass are testosterone and growth hormone. Guys produce large amounts of testosterone and growth hormone which is why when men lift weights they get bulky.
Us women, on the other hand, we produce estrogen, it’s what gives us our curves as well as the fat padding on our hips, thighs, butt and backs of the arms. Like, men, we do produce testosterone and growth hormone but to a much lesser extent. In fact, women produce less than 10% of the amount of testosterone that men produce.
As we lady folk age, osteoporosis and decreased bone density is inevitable if we don’t provide the stimulus necessary to maintain or build bone density. That stimulus is progressive weight training.
I’m not talking about wimpy weights and tricep exercises though. In order to substantially increase bone density, women should be squatting, lunging, and deadlifting with heavy weights.
4. What kind of weight training should I do?
If you are like most of the female clients I have trained over the years, you probably run a tight schedule. The time you allow yourself in the gym should be maximized to your advantage. The biggest bang for your metabolic buck comes from full-body weight training workouts that use basic lifts such as squats, deadlifts, pushups, rows and shoulder presses as well as their variations.
A full-body workout uses these exercises in a fashion that works the major muscles in the legs, chest, back and shoulders. I have seen great results in as little as two to three 45 minute workouts a week. Of course those results are dependent on your nutritional choices outside the gym as well.
5. Why can’t you just give me a workout?
There are many basic full-body weight training routines you can find on the internet, in books and magazines. However, these workouts are just that, very basic.
If you are a female, who has no experience lifting weights with little understanding of body mechanics, it is in your best interest to invest in at least a session or two with a fitness professional.
A good fitness professional will not only assess how your body moves, but teach you proper form as well as work with you on a program that is designed to get you to your goal of a healthy and fit physique.