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Why women should lift weights

Free weights are the way forward for weight loss and toning up!

Let's address the misconception that women should not lift weights, and explain some of the benefits of squats, deadlifts and bench-pressing.

Fit is the new thin! It seems female role models are thankfully changing, most of my female clients do not want to be stick thin anymore, instead they all say they are chasing a slimmer, toned look. Well my one piece of advice for any female looking to achieve that look is to get lifting!

There is a huge misconception held among many women that weightlifting will turn women into ‘hench’, ‘units’ and ‘man-beasts’. This is not the case, and it is this myth which often prevents women getting the results they want as they live in fear of the free weights area. So let me ask you- what does your workout program consist of?

Why so much cardio?

If your typical gym session involves a light warm up on the bike, a 20 minute spell on the cross-trainer, a further 20 minutes on the treadmill, a few bicep curls with those little 2kg weights and some last minute stomach crunches in a bid to get that toned tummy then you really need to ask yourself whether you’re doing enough to see a positive change in physique.

The description above, although there are exceptions, does largely represent a training program for many female gym goers. They don’t want to get ‘hench, buff and bulky’ so instead take on exercises that will burn the most calories like the aforementioned treadmill and will follow that up with a few exercises that will ‘tone’ their muscles like the crunches mentioned previously.

Free weights are the way forward.

The problem is, by doing this women will struggle to reshape their bodies. A few calories may be burned during the cardio workout but simply curling the lightest weight in the building because you don’t want guns like Arnie is not the way forward. If women want that fit, toned look you need to start lifting heavy weights. And no, for the final time you will not turn in to Hulk, Arnie, Ronnie Coleman or even Yaxeni Oriquen-Garcia (please google) and here is why!

Firstly, women do not have the testosterone levels to build huge amounts of mass. It is testosterone which is the prime muscle building hormone. Women do produce testosterone but not anywhere near to the same level as men, so biologically women cannot put on anywhere near the same muscle mass as men. Now I don’t want to accuse those massive female bodybuilders of taking part in any illegal practices but it is highly likely that many have been exposed to some performance enhancing substances (albeit legal) in their time which will have facilitated such a physique, if not it is a scientific miracle.

Calorie intake

Another reason why women don’t put on muscle mass is because they don’t consume enough calories to create the mass. To put on mass you have to over-eat to gain weight, forcing down extra helpings of protein to repair that muscle to comply with your muscle building goals. Just for the record you have to eat around 1.6 gram of protein per day for every pound of body weight to ‘bulk up’. A 10 stone female would have to eat 200 grams of protein a day consistently to bulk up along with a considerable amount of carbohydrates. How many female gym goers would even touch portion sizes of such magnitude?

To become that ‘hench unit’ that you dread, you have to consume a vast amount of calories and produce a high amount of testosterone. So as long as you don’t eat the excessive amount of calories to gain weight and you don’t overdose on testosterone boosting supplements you will not turn in to a bulky beast just because you can squat, dead-lift and bench press!

So now we’ve gathered that the chances of you turning in to muscular bound Hulk’s are pretty slim, here is why lifting weights will actually make you slim!  By weightlifting you will increase burn a lot of calories while performing these big compound movements. But not only that, as a result of your increased muscle density from weightlifting, you will also burn more at resting rate. Every pound of ‘toned’ muscle burns more calories at resting rate than every pound of fat so you end up burning more calories even when you’re not exercising- this is known as having a ‘fast metabolism’. Given that most women want to get slimmer, having a quicker metabolism seems like that something that might just be of benefit! Need any more reasons to weight-lift?

More reasons to lift!

Another benefit to weight lifting is that you will see your body will acquire a more aesthetically pleasing muscular definition. When you bicep curl those 2 kilogram weights mentioned earlier you don’t really challenge your muscles so they don’t need to adapt and become more toned. However, push yourself harder with compound exercises like the chest press, the dead-lift and the squat and you’ll start to see more muscle definition because your muscles will undergo that adaptation necessary to see a positive body transformation.

Another benefit to weight lifting is that you will see your body will acquire a more aesthetically pleasing muscular definition. When you bicep curl those 2 kilogram weights mentioned earlier you don’t really challenge your muscles so they don’t need to adapt and become more toned. However, push yourself harder with compound exercises like the chest press, the dead-lift and the squat and you’ll start to see more muscle definition because your muscles will undergo that adaptation necessary to see a positive body transformation. So to summarize providing you follow a diet that doesn’t support serious weight gain, heavy weights will give you a better opportunity of getting the body shape you are after.

So don’t fear the weights, fear being weak! Fear those awkward sessions doing 10 minutes of tummy crunches and 2 kilogram bicep curls as they are most probably your downfall. Push your body- you’re probably stronger than you think!

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