Despite an abundance of articles like this, this and this on the Internet listing reason after reason why women should not just lift weights but HEAVY weights, it just doesn't seem to be sticking with some.
As a personal trainer, I've heard it all when it comes to why women don't want to lift heavy…. I don't want to look like a dude. I don't sweat when I lift weights so it's not working. Muscle weighs more than fat, and I don't want to gain weight. I just want to tone up.
I threw up a little when I typed that last line.
If you're reading this then I'm guessing you're at the very least a little bit curious about lifting weights and I could easily overwhelm you with studies, facts, reasonings about why none of those excuses I mentioned earlier are valid. If you'd like to read for yourself click any of those links above. The last one is my favorite, just FYI.
I'd say 99% of the women that approach me for fitness advice are all after essentially the same thing. They want to lose fat, not just weight, fat. They want to change their body composition. They want to keep their muscle they have (if not build more), get stronger, become leaner, lose belly fat, lose underarm jiggles, lift their butt… you get the point. Lifting weights can help accomplish all of those (a nice, clean diet doesn't hurt either though).
While I do truly believe that everyone, especially women would benefit from resistance training, I get that it's not everyone's cup of tea. I'm sure some of you feel about lifting like I feel about running in which case your stomach is probably turning just at the thought of it.
I also believe that if you're happy and content without lifting weights in your life then rock on (although please re-read the paragraph directly above this one). I'm not suggesting you quit activities you enjoy and I'm not here to force women into lifting, maybe just a provide a healthy nudge. And the only reason I want to nudge women towards lifting heavy weights is because I know just how powerful of a tool it can be for us physically, mentally and emotionally.
If you're still not convinced lifting heavy weights is for you then let me give you four more reasons you should: Abbie, Laurel, Caroline and Kayse. These four ladies just happen to be a few of my female powerlifting friends I've meet training at 22nd Street Barbell in Des Moines. They're beautiful not manly. They're lean not linebacker-ish. They're strong, not bulky and the four of them are some of the most confident women I've met. They can be the only woman in a room full of tattooed, bearded men and think nothing of it. Coincidence? I think not. So instead of posting picture after picture of models that have graced the cover of Oxygen Magazine I'm choosing to give you real life examples of women who lift heavy weights.
Reason #1: Abbie
Reason #2: Laurel
Reason #3: Caroline
Don't let the cute leggings fool you. Caroline can move some heavy weight. Her personal records include a 315lb deadlift, 140lb bench and a 305lb squat. While lifting does keep this dietetics student fit and trim she'd be the first to share with you the impact it's had on her mentally and emotionally, "Lifting has really given me a new life, it's not just about a changed body. It's given me a newfound confidence and interest that's put me more in touch with my body." While Caroline might look intimidating lifting hundreds of pounds she's one of the friendliest and helpful ladies I've met.
Reason #4: Kayse
I'll never forget the first time I met Kayse. She was one of two girls at 22nd Street when I went in to talk about joining the team. I was shocked to see this petite woman squatting 135lbs for multiple reps with such speed and power. Kayse may be little but she is fierce. After reaching her first goal of competing in a figure competition, Kayse went in search of another goal to work towards. Her figure coach suggested she would be good at powerlifter. Let me just say, that coach was right! She competed in her first powerlifting meet in 2012 and fell in love. At just five feet tall she has put up an impressive 225lb. squat, 145lb. bench and a 320lb deadlift. Kayse's drive and determination is second to none.
If these four ladies have you feeling inspired to give weights a try but you're clueless where to start check in at your gym for personal trainers who specialize in weight training to help you learn proper technique. (Believe it or not there are trainers who don't lift weights.). Of course if you're in the DSM area 22nd Street Barbell would be a great place to check out.
If you're on your own I'd encourage you to check out Jamie Eason's LiveFit Trainer or The New Rules of Lifting for Women. I have personal experience with both of these programs and can't say enough about them. They are both complete with a great program layout, detailed instructions of each exercise, and even address the when and how much part of cardio exercise.
So go on…..what are you weighting for? (<---see what I did there? A little lifting pun for ya!)
Seriously though, give lifting a chance I promise you have nothing to lose and so much to gain.