Why Women Should Lift Weights
I am a firm believer that strength training, in a well-coached, structured manner is highly important for EVERYONE. Whether you are a guy or a gal, a rugby player or triathlete, a housewife or a soldier, using a barbell or some form of strength training will benefit you. In this short blog I will focus on some reasons why it specifically helps women.
Women are living in a supposedly equal society with the same rights and opportunities as men. However there are many stigmas that still exist, and some men, with limited perspectives, seem to think that a woman who is muscular is somehow wrong. Well let me tell you this, a woman who knows how to deadlift, or power clean, or pull themselves up onto a bar is pretty awesome actually!
Some, but not all, of the benefits of strength training for women as I see it are listed below:
– They will be less likely to develop osteoporosis
– They will have higher muscle mass meaning lower body fat (in general)
– They will burn more calories at rest
– They will be more likely to survive an apocalypse
– They will be able to defend themselves and their family in a crisis
– They will deal with and recover from pregnancy much better
– Soft tissue and tendons/ligaments will become stronger and more resilient, meaning they stay stronger for longer (nobody wants to be frail at 70)
– They will be able to carry out day-to-day tasks like picking up heavy shopping bags, or energetic kids much more easily and with less risk of injury.
– Finally, they will look great and gain confidence and self-assurance in their physical capabilities.
The downsides of strength training:
– Callused hands (easy to care for with some TLC)
– Some people, who don’t know better, may use words such as ‘bulky’ or ‘obsessed’. People say these things without recognizing the impact they have – understand that people criticize what they don’t know and take comfort from the fact that your body isn’t ‘bulky’, its strong and capable – as it should be.
– I can’t think of anything else…
In terms of fearing becoming ‘the incredible bulk’ – most women really don’t need to worry about this. The fear of the bulk is unfounded as women have much higher estrogen levels compared to testosterone, making it very difficult to gain large amounts of muscle mass. People come in all different shapes and sizes and its important to recognize this. The sooner someone accepts their basic body shape the better.
A great example of all of the above is one of the members at LiftOff CrossFit, Kelly. She joined in December 2014 and has shown no fear of strength training. She is now one of our strongest female members – throwing around 35kg Power Cleans the other morning in unbroken sets of 10 for ten rounds during one of our conditioning pieces.
Now look at these pictures, one taken just before Kelly joined LiftOff CrossFit and one taken a few days back. This is the result of structured strength training, conditioning work and eating a balanced diet (no crash diets or starving herself!) – plus a good dose of hard work and patience from Kelly (well done girl!).
I don’t tend to use before and after photos but this is an amazing transformation, and with it Kelly has gained impressive levels of fitness and strength.
In today’s society, social media has only increased the confusing and harmful body image problems in women (and men – another post to follow). These will not go away and nor will the demons that many have which revolve around being skinny and looking good naked. My closing advice is to try and focus on performance. Try to focus on getting stronger and fitter; this will make you feel better and more confident as you see yourself progressively improving. It will also get you the results you want.
The three key elements you need are:
– A structured strength and conditioning programme – train like an athlete and you’ll begin to look like one.
– A balanced, consistent diet that does not involve starving yourself or going to extremes of any type – focusing on whole, naturally produced foods.
– A supportive environment where there is no judgement and you are amongst like-minded people, led by knowledgeable coaches.
I hope that this blog has been useful, and that it might help some people! Body image is a tricky subject and is often ignored or brushed under the carpet but for a lot of people it is extremely important.
To the ladies and gents at LiftOff CrossFit, keep working and pushing hard. Be proud of what you achieve in and out of the gym and don’t let anyone tell you what you should be, thats for you to decide!!
For more information or advice or to join LiftOff CrossFit drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org