If you’ve never been into the weight section of the gym, or ever lifted a barbell, then believe it or not: you’re missing out! While it’s true that cardio helps you burn fat, it’s resistance training which, along with burning fat, allows you to sculp a lean, toned, sexy physique.
The truth is: cardio alone will not give most women the body they want. But when you start to throw some strength training into the mix, that’s when you really start to see some amazing transformations in body composition. In fact, one of the most common things you hear form former treadmill-junkies once they’ve discovered the joys of lifting weights is: “Why didn’t I start sooner?!” The reason? The results. You can’t argue with results.
So, given that weight training does deliver such impressive results, why then do many women shun the weight room? The problem usually boils down to two issues:
- Don’t want to get big and bulky.
- Intimidated of the weight room.
Maybe you can identify with these; and if you can, you’re not alone, many women feel the same way. But remember: life begins outside your comfort zone – that’s where the magic happens.
Getting Big and Bulky.
If you shy away from lifting weights because you don’t want to turn into the female equivalent of Arnold Schwarzenegger (in his prime)… You need not worry: it’s not going to happen.
We covered this and other fitness myths before, but this is so prevalent that it bears repeating: lifting weights will not make you big and bulky.
Most times women will see photos of professional female bodybuilders and file away weight lifting as “something I must never, ever, under any circumstances do, because I will end up looking like that”.
But it’s simply not true: professional female bodybuilders don’t just happen – they have tremendous discipline, have been training for years, eat a bucket load of clean (and usually amazingly bland) food, every single day and often use anabolic steroids.
In other words: it ain’t going to happen. You will not wake up looking like Ms. Olympia no matter how heavy, or how often you lift weights. Women just don’t have the natural testosterone levels to make it happen.
What will happen, on the other hand, is you will start to develop a lean, sexy and toned body – provided you combine your training with healthy eating. In fact, you’ll probably be surprised at how quickly you start to notice a positive difference in your body composition after you mix in more resistance training.
Intimidated by the Weight Room.
The other reason many women don’t lift weights is because they’re scared to venture into the weight room. Some women don’t go even when they know they’d be getting a better workout, doing more for their health and get better results if they just made the jump.
Ladies, this is madness: you belong in the weight room.
However, it’s also understandable – stepping outside of your comfort zone in any area of life requires courage. But, are you really going to let the unknown opinions of total strangers determine what you will or won’t do? I don’t think so! And there are ways to make your first steps into the weight section of the gym, much more comfortable…
Get a trainer.
Probably the best move you can make, and well worth the investment, is to start with a trainer – they’ll put you on a workout program, show you how to do the exercises with the proper form and familiarize you with the weight room. The more familiar things become, the more comfortable you’re going to feel. Not only that, but by learning the correct form, you’ll minimize your risk of injury and you’ll maximize the results of your workouts. And as an aside: once you know what the correct form for exercises looks like, you’ll be surprised to see just how many people in the weight room don’t have it.
If you can’t get a trainer, the next best step is to get a workout buddy. Just make sure they’re someone who knows what they’re doing, and are totally comfortable doing it – in other words, don’t buddy up with a friend who’s never set foot into the weight room.
Many women (and men) are intimidated by the weight room because it’s unfamiliar – all those strange machines, exercises, buff guys – it makes sense when you think about it. So one of the best ways to get comfortable is to take the unknowns out of the picture.
Have your workout ready ahead of time, don’t try to do it on the fly – think strategy:
- Have your workout ready.
- Get the lay of the land – the day before, walk around the weight room area, so you know where the equipment you’ll be using is.
- Get to know the exercises – watch videos on how they are done and practice (without weights), so you can get the form, before you hit the gym.
By doing those 3 simple things, you will have removed most of the unknowns, things will be much more familiar to you and as a result, you’ll feel a lot more comfortable.
Listening to an awesome kick-a** playlist will not only help to get you into the zone, but it will also enable you to perform better. Another benefit is that headphones are a great way to tune everyone out along with the ever-present grunting.
Get some perspective.
Most of the time, getting comfortable in the weight section is just a matter of gaining some perspective:
- Everyone had to start somewhere – no one pops out as a 300lb muscleman (thank goodness), or buff super-hottie, in fact, when they started out they were probably intimidated by the weight section.
- There are 3 reasons guys will look at you – 1) you’re a novelty; this will fade quickly the more familiar you become to them. 2) they respect you; most guys have massive respect for any woman who lifts weights. 3) they’re attracted to you; yep, can you blame them?
- They’re more interested in their workouts – why do you think there are so many mirrors in the weight section? Okay, it’s to check your form, but honestly, most guys in the weight room are so focused on their workouts that they honestly don’t care about what you’re doing.
- It’s not about the weight you’re lifting, it’s about the intensity of your workout.
The most important thing to realize is that working out is about you, not them, and you belong in the weight room.
If you’re fortunate to have the money and space, then you could set up your own home gym, which would circumvent all the other issues. It may seem like a cop-out, but home gyms are actually awesome: you do things on your terms, your time, your place. Added to this, they work out a lot cheaper than a gym subscription in the long-run.
By now, you’re probably beginning to realize how the weight room is your domain too – the first step is always the hardest, but the more you go, the more familiar you become and as a result your confidence levels will skyrocket.
Or as Ryan Gosling might say: “Hey Girl. You’ve got this.”
Getting Started Weight Lifting Workout
This is a full-body, compound exercise (works multiple muscle groups at a time, including your core) workout to get you started in the weight section. You want to focus on great form and workout intensity rather than the amount of weight you are lifting.
Getting Started Weight Lifting Workout
Cardio: 5 – 10 minutes
Click links to see videos of the exercises.
Cool-down & stretch
Do your usual cool down and stretching routine.
Do 1 warmup set of 10 reps.
Use a light weight for your warm-up.
Do 3 work sets of 8 – 12 reps.
Rest 60 seconds between each set.
Use a weight that allows you to complete all your reps.
It’s better to start with a lighter weight and then adjust it upwards if it’s too easy.
Bring a journal to record the weight and reps for each exercise and set.
Do this workout 3 times a week with at least 1 day rest between – e.g. Monday, Wednesday, Friday.
In the interest of your safety, it is important to check with your physician before beginning any exercise program and to exercise according to your fitness level and capabilities. If you have any questions, please seek the guidance of a health professional.
So there you have it: incorporate weight training into your workouts and you’ll soon find your body looking leaner, more toned and sexier. You’ll wonder why you didn’t start sooner. You’ll also find yourself holding yourself better and being more confident because there’s nothing sexier than a strong woman.
Are you ready to hit the weight room? Or are you already a regular? Let us know in the comments below!
What about lighter free weight exercises with higher reps? Are they as effective as the exercises here at building muscle and burning fat?
The short answer is: no. When you lift lighter weights with higher reps, it falls more into the realm of cardiovascular workout, depending on how light the weight is.
To put it this way: strength training will burn fat and build muscle. The best way to build muscle is to lift heavy – meaning, you’re just able to complete your rep range. If you’re able to finish that last rep easily, you’re probably lifting too light.
It’s still a good idea to do cardio, because it is great for fat-loss (along with eating clean & healthy).
Many women (and men) have been amazed at the results once they stepped away from the pink dumbbells and started consistently hitting the heavy weights and lower reps.