Featured story March 26, 2014
I admit it, I'm addicted to the gym...I love weight training, I couldn't even imagine giving it up as I age. In the past few years I've gone from a frail distance runner who represented her Country, to a strong figure athlete hoping to gain an IFBB pro card. More than ever I'm complemented on my physique, an overt display of hard work. So with this in mind, I wonder why women like me are still such a minority in the weights area?
When it comes to females working out, there’s a glaring and insulting double standard; women should be either thin or curvaceous but never athletic or jacked. No wonder, then, that women tend to treat cardiovascular exercise as the holy grail of female fitness. So here are three of the biggest fears women I’ve worked with had at the beginning when it comes to lifting weights, and why they shouldn’t be a worry for you:
We see pictures of female bodybuilders with veins popping out of their Hulk-like shoulders, and we fear looking like them. I certainly did. Because of this, most women “only want to be toned”. They want the sleek, slender appearance of the Jessica Alba’s of the world. Now, muscle tone actually has nothing to do with the way our muscles look, and what most women desire is actually increased muscular definition and shape. But in order to improve muscular definition you first need to have a sufficient amount of muscle on your body to create the curves and shape of the body.
Not only this, but us ladies simply don’t have enough of the hormone testosterone in our bodies to ever pack on enough muscle to get ‘big’, 10x less testosterone than men in fact. Any women you see like this are generally using unnatural means to create this type of physique, and unless you purposefully seek out hormone therapy, there is simply no danger of that ever happening to you.
At the end of the day weight is just a number. It’s only a very small piece of the puzzle and it says nothing about your body composition. I’m heavy for my height on the scales, but my muscle mass is high and my body fat sub 10% on stage. When you weigh yourself, generally nobody else knows the number; people just see the results by how you hold that weight. If you were 5lbs heavier than you are now with a flat stomach, would you care?
Perhaps even more importantly, strength training increases metabolism even more than cardio workouts. The more muscle mass you have, the more calories you burn at rest. That leads to fat loss and an increased potential for overall weight loss. A Cambridge University study found that people who lift weights lose six more pounds of fat than those who don’t, even without changing their diet.
This may happen, but you could also trip whilst on the treadmill or pull a muscle during a yoga stance! As long as you are careful to lift with good form, you are much more likely to prevent injury with weight training than you are to cause it. Research shows that regular strength training results in lower blood pressure, and a longer lifespan. Not only that, but women are more prone to osteoporosis (brittle bone disease), and strength training is a great way to decrease the risk, or even improve bone density.
If you are looking to have a baby, weight training can prevent injury and promote recovery. Deadlifts to strengthen your back reducing the strain of the lower back, and make pregnancy easier. And most importantly for new mothers, help lose your baby weight even quicker!
If you are a woman reading this article, chances are you're most likely a convert already. A member of The Church Of Iron - so as with any congregation, go out and spread the word. Tell your friends and loved ones how they can improve their health, self-confidence and body shape. They'll thank you once the gains start.
Written by Becs Cronshaw