There’ve been a few times (maybe more) when I’ve been shown up by a woman in the weight room. Rather than being embarrassed by this, this inspires me to work harder because let’s face it, most men don’t like losing to a woman.
More and more women of today are mixing it up with the men in the weight room and are stepping away from the cardio machines. They’re also being celebrated for their athletic achievements on and off the field and not just for the way they look.
Strong is the new sexy. You’ll get no argument from me.
However, it’s not all sunshine and roses. Parts of the mainstream media and some celebrity trainers (I use that term very loosely) think endless cardio and lifting pink dumbbells are the only way to ‘melt’ those pounds off.
Women have been told for too long that building muscle is ‘bad.’ Instead, words like toning muscles, melting fat, and getting lean have been tossed about because women fear they will look big or bulky if they strength train.
Don’t worry girls, that will never happen to you because of a little thing called testosterone and your lack of it in comparison to men. (1)
There are many advantages to building lean muscle, including
- Increase in physical strength
- Increase in calorie burn even at rest
- Increase in energy
- Increase in self confidence
Should women be excluded from these benefits? No, of course not. Let’s see why (in my opinion) women shouldn’t be afraid of muscle and the barbell.
1. We do the same things
Despite the obvious differences (hormonal, body composition, organs, etc.) between a man and woman, we still perform the same fundamental human movements everyday such as pushing, pulling, squatting, hinging and carrying heavy stuff around.
These are movements that we ALL need to get stronger in.
2. Low weight, high rep myth
As I mentioned earlier, some women have bought into the high rep, light weight mentality because they believe lifting heavier weights will get them too ‘muscly.’ That’s quite ironic because training with low weight/high reps with minimal rest is one of the accepted protocol for muscle building, but I digress.
However, let’s get one thing straight before we go any further, ladies. Building muscle is extremely hard for males and females alike.
To gain a pound of muscle you need a 4500-calorie surplus above what you usually eat. That’s a lot of protein shakes and hamburgers. So, when you lift moderate to heavy weight with appropriate reps and eat like an adult, you’re not going to look like the Hulk.
Keep in mind that it only took the Hulk a few seconds to get huge
Of course, you can get bigger muscles from strength training but it’s not necessary a side effect as evidenced by numerous track and field athletes, sprinters and gymnasts. These people need to be strong relative to their bodyweight to perform at their best.
Training with heavier weights and lower reps with sufficient rest, the muscles will get stronger but not necessarily bigger. According to the American Council on Exercise, most women will gain around 20 to 40 percent in muscular strength after several months of resistance training. (2)
That’s a big deal. No pun intended.
3. Strong muscles, strong bones
Another consideration for why women need to strength train and not throw those silly pink dumbbells around is little thing called bone mineral density (BMD) and the issues women have with osteoporosis, particularly after menopause.
Our bones store important minerals such as calcium and phosphorus, and if we don’t consume enough of these minerals our body takes these minerals from our bones, potentially making the bones weaker.
Nobody wants that.
According to Wolff’s law on bone remodeling, bones will adapt to the loads under which they are placed. What does this mean? It means that lifting weights and taking the recommend doses for calcium will keep your muscles and bones strong for life, which is important.
There are also correlations that suggest that more lean muscle mass leads to a higher BMD and prevents the risk factors associated with stress fractures – another reason not to be afraid of muscle. (3)
Lifting weights and getting stronger have great benefits for both men and women. Women don’t need to be afraid of picking up and putting down the barbell any longer. Besides, men need a little friendly competition in the weight room anyway.
Do you need help getting started, ladies? Then I have the program for you, a 12-week online program that will help you get stronger and more confident in the gym.
This program includes
- A through fitness assessment. This assessment lets me know where you stand and is the baseline against which we can measure your progress.
- A Skype consultation to discuss your short-term and long-term goals. This will allow me to write a customized program and to answer any questions you may have.
- 12 weeks of customized programming, broken into 3 4-week blocks
- Regular Skype and email check-ins to see how your progressing and to address concerns you may have.
Hurry, spaces are limited. Find out more and grab your spot right here.