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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Never get sloppy with good form, if you can’t lift a weight with good form then you shouldn’t be lifting it, simple.

You can follow Joslyn on Twitter at @fitgirltweets and check out her awesome site fitgirlabouttown.com

5 Responses to “Women & Weights”
  1. I enjoyed reading this as I have just come back from an hour of lifting weights in my BodyPump class. I’m surprised there’s no mention of lifting weights being good for bone density and reducing the risk of osteoporosis, but then I’m guessing that the writer is a lot younger than me and having a tight butt is higher up the priority list. As a writer who spends most of the day at the computer I’ve found that weights have been great for my shoulders and back in particular. However I do have arms like Popeye’s sister but that’s OK, I like being strong.

  2. Andrea says:

    I do Body Pump classes and I would definitely recommend them for anyone wanting to start lifting weights. You can start as light as you want (I used the very lightest weights at first!) and build up at your own pace. I feel so much fitter and stronger than I did when I just did cardio.

  3. Ozzie says:

    I also recommend kettlebells as you work your whole body in one go…I always do a kettlebell session after a run and have noticed results a lot sooner than expected

  4. Stephanie says:

    I love this article. Im a hardcore weights fan and do kettlebells and regular dumbell circuit classes. As a woman it annoys me that people have such a negative attitude towards weights especially women. I pump weights and train like a madman but still keep the curves and i wear bloody false eyelashes. You can be glamourous and train hard!

  5. Kathleen says:

    I’m a runner but I started lifting weights through a crossfit class. I was really skeptical at first being a running purist but I soon started to see the benefits that lifting weights had for my overall physique and for my running. I still swear that by doing my crossfit strength conditioning I was able to stay injury free during my marathon training.
    I am 5ft and weight just under 50kg but I have become amazed at how much weight I have started to shift while still maintaining my runner shape. Also there is the added bonus mentioned above of preventing osteoporosis but also when taught in the right way it helps burn fat and I really think should be incorporated into helping people classed as obese. Weight training helps to lower insulin resistance and can help prevent diabetes. However I also cannot ignore the fact that my husband told me lately that my legs were looking amazing and I do think it has to do with the combination of running and weights.