For many years, heck, for centuries, it was strongly believed that weightlifting, in fact, exercise in general, was only an activity for men. More than that, it was believed that it could only be practiced by a special breed of males who wanted to become superhuman examples of human perfection.
Despite the fact that over the past few decades it has come to be a generally accepted, and scientifically proven, that weightlifting is an activity that has health benefits for everybody, it has still generally been looked upon as a male activity.
Many women are afraid to try weightlifting for health, fitness, and weight management.
For decades, women have been led to believe that weightlifting will make them look too big, or "masculine". They think weightlifting is only for the most athletic of women...and those who have no desire to be feminine.
This is not true.
While there is definitely a sport of female bodybuilding - but these fantastically and physically developed women will be the first to tell you that they have to work extremely hard, probably three or four times as hard, to gain the equivalent bodybuilding physique as their male counterparts.
Because of one simple biological fact - women do not generally make enough testosterone to build muscle as big or as quickly as men do.
So don't worry about it, ladies. You can work out with weights, and get phenomenal health benefits, such as losing weight and looking younger - yes I said "losing weight" and "looking younger" - by weightlifting!
Lean muscle burns calories. Lean muscle is sexy. There is absolutely no reason why fitness-conscious women, and I think that most are today, needs to restrict their workouts to just cardio and aerobics. Women can benefit from consciously building lean muscle mass through systematic weight training, as much as men.
Biological fact number two - we, men and women, lose muscle mass as we age. If we do nothing
to replace it, we lose strength and tone and look and feel older.
Most women also know that they are more susceptible to bone density loss (osteoporosis) than men, so they take calcium supplements. Regular
weightlifting workouts strengthen and build muscle AND bones. Studies of women have shown that
resistance training, such as weightlifting, cannot only prevent, but in some cases can reverse, the effects of osteoporosis.
Ladies you want shape! You want a figure!
Building up the muscles of your shoulders and back will make your waist look
smaller, and, in fact, it will probably actually become smaller. And let us not
forget about what weightlifting can do for the old Gluteus
Maximus...your tush. Do you really want "Buns of Steel"? - Pump Iron!
What About Aerobics?
Most trainers do not suggest that women give up aerobics
altogether. In fact a workout regimen that combines traditional
cardio-aerobics and weightlifting is ideal. This is known as
"circuit training". You may want to read this article for
more information: Creating a Metabolic Surge with Circuit Training, to get
a better idea of the concept.
Here is one more point to note; a recent study following women age 24-34 conducted by the John Hopkins University found that women who lifted weights
continued to burn calories sometimes up to 2 hours longer after the exercise period
than women who did a comparable period of aerobics.
While we're on this topic, let's also deal with three burning questions about women and weightlifting.
Will weight training make me look like a man?
I have no doubt that you have seen the pictures of
the heavily muscled women who don't seem to appear feminine at all.
Well, while some women do choose to remain at that level, what you are seeing in them are
extreme examples of women who did specific training, took specific
supplements, and ate specific diets to look that way. In fact, when
most of those women are off their training regimens, they often look like a fashion model rather than a bodybuilder.
Will weight training make my breasts bigger?
Good news and bad news here. The bad news is that weight training will NOT make your breasts bigger. However, with a proper weight training regimen and healthy eating habits, four important changes will take place in your body and mind.
- The pectoral muscles which lie beneath a woman's breasts will become larger and firmer, supporting the breasts better and making them seem bigger.
- Connective tissues which help support the breasts may be somewhat rejuvenated, thus raising the breasts and enhancing the bosom line.
- As weight is lost in areas around your breasts, they will appear more pronounced, hence giving your bosom a sexier, more feminine appearance.
- You will feel so good about your new level of health and fitness, and your new appearance, that worries about the size and shape of your bosom will diminish. In fact, many women experience a whole new level of confidence and personal self-esteem.
Will men like a woman who lifts weights or trains with weights?
Obviously, the first and most honest answer is that some will and some won't.
If you train to extreme levels, such as the ladies
who compete do, that might turn some men off. Also, some will feel their masculinity is somehow threatened by a healthy, physically fit
woman. Trust me, you probably don't want one of those anyway. The last group, guys like me, dig fit, healthy chicks (yes, I AM 69 years old,
but did, and still do, like ladies who exercise regularly and are in good health).
Once all that has been said, however, some women want to be healthy and fit but just do not feel comfortable as bodybuilders or
weightlifters. For those ladies, I would heartily recommend the practice of yoga
or that they check into a program such as Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle.