Should women lift free weights as well? This is a question that many women ask as they are concerned that weightlifting for women will result in them becoming too “bulky” or even “manly-looking.” The average woman’s goal is to keep fit and stay toned so is weight training even necessary? Before discussing further, I also recommend you to read my previous article about weight training routines for women, which you can do comfortably at home.
Weightlifting For Women Benefits
There is a serious misconception floating around that women should not utilize heavy free weights in their routines and should focus more on cardiovascular exercises and machines. First off, free weights are better for keeping you toned because you implement the use of stabilizer muscles to counterbalance the weights. You just don’t get that from machines which are designed to focus on one or two muscles. In solely using isolating exercise machines you are doing yourself a great disservice.
Also, women have large muscle groups just like men, such as your legs for example, so in these areas you definitely want to include some heavy weights as a minimum. Core compound exercises, ones that require several different muscle groups are also another area where lifting larger weights is clearly beneficial for women as well. These consist of Deadlifts, Squats, Rowing and so on. Maintaining a strong back and legs is an absolute must for playing sports or any fitness training regime.
Furthermore, if you want to achieve that tight, firm and toned look you are going to need low repetition sets with heavy free weight training. (You will also require excellent nutrition of course but that is a topic for another article which I have discussed here.) The number of reps per set you should be doing is anywhere from 3 to 6. If you can lift more than six times than you ought to be increasing the number of pounds/kilograms. The belief that high rep training solely increases muscle tone is complete nonsense.
How Heavy Should You Lift?
Do remember that “lifting heavy” is a relative term and what may be heavy for you will not necessarily be heavy for someone else. Just focus on lifting what you can while pushing yourself when necessary. Your not out to lift ridiculous weights at the start or expose yourself to injury by not being smart about it. Heavy weightlifting for women is being able to lift about 80% to 85% of your maximum.
Genetic make up is yet another reason why you don’t have to worry about the free weight myth. Women have different hormone production than men such as more estrogen and less testosterone (which promotes big bulky muscles.) We also eat less protein but we are certainly not frail or delicate creatures. Don’t be afraid of strength training.
Weightlifting Will Help You To Burn Fat Too!
Free weight training is also great for burning fat! It not only increases your metabolism but is a monster consumer of calories. So even if you don’t reduce your caloric intake you’ll notice a big difference in as little as a few months. The reason is muscle also burns calories even at rest compared to fat so you get the benefit of trimming down even when you’re not actively at the gym. Swap lean muscle for fat and watch the pounds melt away while you sculpture that beautiful body …
Another great thing about strength training is that it allows you to zero in and target your “troubled” spots. For many women that is usually “saddle bags” or “muffin tops” or an unflattering backside. With a serious exercise like squats for example you can really achieve your desired results. That is just not possible with calorie restrictions alone as you are likely going to see a reduction in areas you don’t want, such as your bra sizes.
You will want to include free weight training to your routine about 2 or 3 times per week. Learn the proper technique for weightlifting for women first, this is a must. Then gradually start increasing the weight once you have the motions down. Aim for the targets discussed earlier once you get the hang of things. Also keep in mind that muscle weighs more than fat. So, while you may not drop as quickly on the scale as your cardio only friends, you will notice differences in your waist size a lot quicker, look a lot more toned and proportionate and feel great to boot.