By now, we’ve busted so many health and beauty myths that it’s totally fair to just shake your fists at the sky and wonder if anything is real anymore. (Honestly, I feel that way too.)
And yet, here we are again, busting one more myth that just won’t die!
Did you know that for women, not only will weightlifting NOT make you look like that weird guy at the gym who grunts way too loudly when he does bicep curls, but it will actually help you get to your fitness goals faster?
AND! Did you know that it can improve your mood? Or make you more flexible? Or help those weird aches and pains you assumed were just a part of getting older?
Weightlifting for women gets a bad rap, and it’s totally undeserved. While I’m not a queen of strength training like my heroes Dr. Stacie (@thephysiofix on Instagram) and Cynthia Leu (@cynthialeu on Instagram), I can definitely sing the praises of weight training and hopefully convince you to try it out!
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You Won’t Look Like She-Hulk
Weight training is about way more than just picking up super heavy weights and slamming protein shakes with your bros. (I mean, you can totally do that too. Get those GAINS!)
Doing anything that makes your muscles work hard (lifting weights, using resistance bands, climbing stairs, hauling your toddler around all day) forces them to get stronger and more powerful.
Stronger doesn’t mean bigger though, and even if you lift really heavy weights, you won’t get bulky! Women have totally different hormone profiles than men, and our bodies don’t pack on muscle in the same way that dude bodies do.
I know what you’re thinking: What about female bodybuilders?
Those women with Arnold Schwarzenegger physiques have to do very intensive, very specific kinds of training, AND they usually have to take special supplements too. So, unless you actively wanted to have that kind of build, no amount of normal weightlifting would make the average woman that bulky.
But You Will Look (and Feel!) Awesome
1. Weightlifting boosts fat loss
We all know that cardio is good for burning calories, but adding some weights can kick the fat loss into high gear. It takes more energy for your body to build and maintain lean muscle, so more muscle means that you’ll burn more body fat, even when you’re not working out!
2. Getting stronger helps you feel more confident
Not only does exercise release endorphins (the chemicals that make us feel happier and healthier), but it can boost your self-esteem, too.
One giant meta-analysis of 33 clinical trials concluded that doing as little as two short strength training workouts per week was enough to show huge positive changes.
People who participated in these studies felt significant relief from symptoms of depression, and even those who weren’t depressed felt a notable boost in their mood and overall confidence in themselves.
The best part? You get all of these benefits even if you don’t train super hard or super often. The important part is to do a little bit of lifting at least twice a week. Totally doable!
3. Building muscle protects your body
When women get stronger, it typically shows up as toned, defined muscles rather than vein-popping bulk (thank goodness).
Strengthening your muscles, even a little bit, also helps to increase bone density, which is super important as we get older. Healthy bone density and strong muscle help to stave off fractures, falls, arthritis, bad posture, and even those random aches and pains we all seem to get.
Plus, the stronger your body is, the less likely you are to deal with lower back pain and strained muscles.
Here’s How to Start
Trust me, I know how intimidating it can be to even think about how to start looking up weightlifting exercises.
If you don’t already have access to weights, you can use gallons of water, backpacks full of books, or resistance bands while you’re getting familiar with basic exercises. In fact, it’s usually best to just do bodyweight exercises at first!
I love watching videos from The Physio Fix (Dr. Stacie, who I mentioned earlier!) for exercise ideas and proper form guidance.
When I first started researching how to get into weightlifting, Nerd Fitness was another invaluable resource for me! The whole site really breaks every little part of the process down for you, so there’s no chance to feel like you can’t do it! Plus, they do 1-on-1 virtual coaching too, which is perfect for pandemic life.
Let’s Get Strong and Sexy!
My weightlifting game still needs some work, but I’m getting there! It’s such a great feeling to know that I’m getting stronger, and it definitely makes my yoga practice easier too.
Do you lift weights? Do you want to start? Let’s talk about it in the comments!