Women & Weights
By Joslyn Thompson
Gasp, if the thought of even entering the testosterone filled weights room has you perspiring more than a 15 minute stint in the sauna, then you need to start embracing the concept because you have a LOT to gain from it. A tighter body, better posture, a higher metabolism and a general increase in your ability to kick some serious derrier.
Oh but wait, you don’t want to get too muscley right? Or you hear that light weights with high repetitions is the way to get toned? What if I told you I can lift more than double my bodyweight in a deadlift (lifting a barbell from the floor to your hips) and don’t look like Arnie, in fact other girls in the gym are like “how do you lift that, you’re not that big?” What have we learnt here? Big weights don’t mean big mama.
So how come you don’t get big, like the guys in the gym? Well first and foremost, women just don’t have as much testosterone as men, thus you have less ability to look like a man, even if you lift more than one! Next, lifting heavy weights means you gain muscle which increases your metabolism, meaning you are your very own fat burning machine! Excellent, where do I sign?
Hang on, now you are worried about the concept of having more muscle. Well the beauty of muscle is that it is nice and dense, unlike body fat. You may have heard that muscle weighs more than fat which it obviously doesn’t, but a pound of muscle takes up less space than a pound of fat, so two women weighing the same will look different if one has, more muscle relative to body fat, than the other.
So what to do? Before you fly into the gym and aim for a big weight as you visualise the fat-burning machine you are about to turn into, you need to listen up:
- Use large compound movements like squats, deadlifts, lunges and rows that use more muscle mass than isolated exercises like tricep kick backs (so eighties…) so it takes you less time to work more muscle groups. Most of them work your posterior chain (all the muscles down the back of your body) pretty good, improving your posture and undoing the weaknesses that desk-bound work can cause.
- If you are new to free weights (barbells and dumbbells) then you should grab a few sessions with a good personal trainer who can show you the ropes of the large compound movements that need to be executed safely.
- Never get sloppy with good form, if you can’t lift a weight with good form then you shouldn’t be lifting it, simple.