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Despite the numerous benefits of a weight training routine, or even body-weight resistance training, very few women actually perform this type of workout.
There are a couple of reasons why this may be the case:
- They feel intimidated going into the weight bay area.
- They don’t want to develop muscles and look manly.
I understand why women might feel intimidated going into the weight bay area.
It used to be a place full of guys looking mean and moody, making all manner of grunting and groaning noises!
Plus, everyone seems to know what they are doing, and it can feel intimidating.
Well times have changed, and gyms are far more relaxed and friendly places than they used to be.
As far as weight training goes, I’m delighted to witness more and more women taking it up, and incorporating it into their workout.
One misconception is that a woman working out in the free-weight area means all the guys are going to stop and stare while they perform a lift or pull etc.
The reality is..no one gives a shit!
If anything, women get far more respect for using the free weights, than if they were to spend the whole session on a tread machine, or similar.
Women and Muscles
Let’s face it, most women don’t want to build a muscular looking physique.
A toned and/or athletic looking body is usually ‘the look’ women prefer to have.
The misconception is that by lifting weights, women will develop muscles, and start to look manly.
The reality is; if you are a woman, and even if you workout 4 or 5 times a week, the chances of you developing a muscular physique, are very slim.
Now don’t get me wrong, women can build muscle if that’s what they really want to do.
However, it is much harder than for men, and requires full-time dedication and a massive lifestyle change to do so.
Testosterone is a hormone present in both men and women.
It is needed for the reproductive system, sexual desire, bone and hair growth, and to increase strength and muscle mass.
However, women don’t have, or produce, nearly as much testosterone as men.
Men produce up to 20 times more testosterone than women, which enables them to lift heavier weights and their muscles to grow far bigger.
Back in the hunter/gatherer age, it was the men that needed to be stronger, in order to hunt and kill for food. It is just the way mankind has developed.
No matter how hard they try, women just haven’t got the natural stimulus to develop large muscles.
Don’t be fooled by the pumped-up, muscle-bound women you see on the front of bodybuilding magazines.
These girls take health risking steroids (artificial testosterone) and supplements.
All The Benefits Without The Size
So the good news for women is that they can still reap all the health benefits of weight training without the unsightly muscle mass.
From a guy’s perspective (or mine anyway!), a woman with a toned body and some muscle definition is muchly admired ;).
Take the athlete Jessica Ennis for example.
Her training routine was much more intensive than the average woman looking to get fit and toned.
To get fit for the 2012 Olympics she was training 6 days a week, for several hours a day.
Her typical day included 2 or 3 weight sessions, as well as sprinting, jumping and plyometric drills.
As you can see, despite this intensity, she still didn’t end up with a muscular body. I would describe it as flippin lovely toned and athletic.
100m sprinters offer a good comparison.
Male sprinters have incredibly muscular physiques, whereas the women don’t.
Male and female weight lifting competitors are the same.
Here’s a short video of female weight lifters.
Their physiques are not ‘muscley’ or manly looking, and these girls are the extreme example of weight training..
If you want to start lifting weights (male or female) but feel a little uncomfortable about the free weight area, try to go when your gym is relatively quiet.
You’ll be able to try lots of moves, try different weights, and work on your form etc without feeling conscious.
Workout At Home
These days, I do most of my workouts in the comfort of my own home.
I don’t have a converted garage with a multi-gym and dozens of free weights lying around. I use my living-room, with some good quality dumbbells and my own body-weight.
These Bowflex adjustable dumbbells are heavy duty, and adjust from 5 to 52lbs (approx 23kgs). More than enough to build muscle.
However there dozens of are cheaper and lighter dumbbells to suit anyone.
It is more convenient this way, no gym membership fees, and my workout time is cut by half!
Dumbbells are great for weight training.
You can choose how heavy they are, what material they are made of, even what colours they come in.
You can complete a fall body workout, and target every muscle group using dumbbells.
Male or female – invest in some dumbbells and learn the correct techniques for various exercises.
You’ll soon get addicted, especially when you start noticing the subtle changes to your physique.
If you are a lady reading this… embrace the free-weight area of your gym, or start with some dumbbells at home.
Not only is this type of workout highly beneficial on a number of health levels, it will also tone and firm your physique more than any other form of exercise.
Plus you’ll be part of that small group of people who actually understand the benefits to lifting free-weights.