Bodybuilding and powerlifting have traditionally always been seen as hobbies for men, but in the last couple of years we have witnessed a steady increase in the number of women venturing into the weights sections of their local gyms. So why do we still hear of so many females too afraid to pick up a set of dumbbells for fear of growing “bulky”? In this article we will look into the main ways in which weightlifting can be of huge benefit for any lady in the gym, and why it is definitely time to change our attitudes about lifting being just for men!
1. You will not get “big”, “bulky”, “chunky” or any other words to that effect.
So this is the thing I hear the most when I ask girls who stick to cardio why they don’t fancy lifting weights. My first comment on this is: do you know how hard it is to get big? The only way weightlifting is going to turn you into a masculine looking, capped shouldered beast is if you absolutely commit yourself to increasing your muscle size in this way, both through working out and eating in a huge calorie surplus. Trust me; you’re not going to get bulky by accident! By increasing the amount of muscle all over your body you will raise your metabolism and actually burn more body fat in the long run than you would by just doing cardio. The result: lean, shapely, sexy arms and legs (and no more boring hours on that treadmill!)
2. Muscles look good.
I’ve seen an image floating around social media a lot lately which reads “squat: because nobody ever wrote a song about a small butt”. Honestly, I couldn’t have put it any better myself. Obviously this may boil down to personal preference but I would certainly prefer to be the proud owner of well built glute muscles as opposed to a thigh gap. The harder you train, the more muscle you will gain and the more your arms, abs, back and everything in between will shape up and give you that toned, bikini ready body you so desire. Your body will thank you for pushing it to its limits and you will look healthier than ever before.
3. A clearer mind and sharper focus.
We all get bogged down from time to time with jobs, exams, money problems etc; the weights room can really act as your own personal therapy time to get away from all these distractions. Switching on your music for an hour and focussing on pushing yourself further than you did last week can clear your mind and help you get a mental escape from any problems you may be experiencing in your personal life. I’ve met people in the gym who claim that lifting weights has helped cure them of depression; I personally find it is the best way to deal with exam stress. Everyone is different and weightlifting helps each of us in different ways. For that hour you can leave all your problems at the front door of the gym and focus purely on bettering yourself.
4. More confidence than ever before.
I know there are plenty of girls out there who dream of weightlifting but simply don’t have the confidence to get in that weights room amongst the guys. Believe me, I know how this feels. It’s all too common to shy away from something that could hugely benefit you due to a lack of confidence. What you may not realise is that walking into that gym and smashing new PRs every week will improve your self confidence like never before. Seeing what you’re capable of, particularly when it comes to powerlifting, will make you see yourself in a whole new light. It really is worth swallowing your fear for the first few sessions and going into the weights room with your head held high, remember the only person you have to convince is yourself!
5. A whole new group of potential friends.
Now let’s be honest, nobody really goes to the gym with the intention to socialise. We go to get stuff done. But sooner or later we end up getting used to seeing the same faces day in and day out and before you know it, you become one of the regulars in the weights room who’s waving at everybody as you make your way to the squat rack. From my experience, people who are passionate about weightlifting tend to be lovely, and they are always willing to offer a helping hand if you are unsure about anything. The shared interest of weightlifting will mean you never run out of things to talk about; you’ll no doubt make friends for life amongst those dumbbells!
6. You can eat more food.
Who doesn’t love the idea of eating more food guilt free? Increasing your amount of muscle mass will actually increase the amount of calories you need in order to maintain muscle and prevent weight loss. This means that by building muscles your body will allow you to eat more food without “getting fat”. This is why super ripped body builders can eat thousands of calories worth of food every day and still maintain such low body fat percentages!
7. You will burn more calories.
Similar to number 6, certain styles of weightlifting can actually burn more calories in a one hour session than you would have in your average hour of steady state cardio. Including high reps, compound movements, supersets and drop sets sends your heart rate soaring and results in a very high calorie burn which actually continues after the workout is over. This is called the “after burn” effect, and doesn’t occur to the same extent when you do lower intensity exercises. A great example of a weightlifting session with a high calorie burn is a barbell complex. Barbell complexes involve performing a few reps of a few different barbell exercises back to back, resting for a little while then repeating in a circuit style fashion. For example: front squat for 5 reps, overhead press for 5 reps, back squat for 5 reps and then reverse lunge for 5 reps. This is a great alternative to your average steady state cardio as well as it being more muscle sparing, meaning that by working the muscle fibres you are less likely to end up burning muscles instead of fat!