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Why women need to weightlift

As the Edge’s only female personal trainer and from my experience within the industry I can identify with the many fears women have when it comes to lifting weights.

These fears can include “lifting weights will make me bulky and masculine”, “it’s dangerous for women to lift heavy weights”, “I don’t know how to lift weights and I’m too embarrassed to try”, “Weightlifting is very masculine and I’m not going into a gym full off men” and “I need to lose weight first as weights don’t help you to lose weight”.

To undo all your misconceptions, I will explain in detail why women need to lift weights no matter what age, shape or level of fitness they are in order to stay fit and healthy.

1. Lifting weight will promote a curvy feminine body

Lifting weights does not lead to the misconception that many women have which is that lifting weights is masculine and that you will start to resemble a man if you start to lift weights. Putting it simply female hormones are not the same as male hormones. We simply do not have the level of testosterone in our bodies to compete with the size of our male counterparts unless we are supplementing with additional testosterone as a performance enhancing drug which I’m presuming 99.999% of us aren’t!

Cardio alone on the other hand will make us lose our curves as we will lose both body fat and muscle mass making us lose our sought after hourglass shape.

2. Women have less muscle mass than men and have to work harder to see results

This gives us all the more reason to incorporate weights into their training. Although Cardio can keep your weight down lifting weights is most effective when it comes to building muscle and getting lean. The more muscle you have the more fat you will burn. Weight lifting increases your metabolic rate faster than cardio meaning more calories are expended during and after you weight train in comparison to cardio exercises.

3. Increase in strength /bone mass

According to the International Osteoporosis Society one in two women over the age of 50 will develop a fracture due to a brittle bone disease known as osteoporosis. Osteopenia the onset of osteoporosis is on the rise in Ireland particularly amongyoung women. The root of this condition includes hormonal imbalance in females due to a withdrawal of estrogen, a lack of sunshine (vitamin D) which understandably Irish people lack due to our adverse weather. Smoking and drink excessively is also a major factor in the rise of the disease among females in Irish society. Incorporating weight bearing exercises into your program is highly recommended to help you to avoid the onset symptoms of osteoporosis.

4. Heart health

Weight training has long been acknowledged as a means for developing muscular strength, endurance, power and muscle mass however it has only been identified in recent years to be beneficial to individuals with chronic heart disease. Resistance exercise (such as lifting weights) produces a different pattern of blood vessel responses than aerobic exercise, suggesting that weight in addition to cardio is recommendation for sustaining a healthy heart.

5. Sleep and mood

Research shows that exercising regularly with weights delivers significant mental health benefits including a reduction in the symptoms of depression, anxiety and fatigue.

6. Confidence and Physical self-reliance

Although many women feel extremely intimidated at the thought of lifting weights, The Edge offers a very different environment. Over three quarters of our clients are female. All clients are encouraged to lift weights and one of the best parts our job is observing the confidence women gain from weight lifting. In my opinion, the physical self-reliance gained by women while weight training in The Edge is very powerful, and it bleeds into other areas of their lives.

The following are a number of tips I would give anyone contemplating doing weights:

1. Ask an expert: If you want to lift weights but feel too embarrassed come along to a The Edge where you will experience a friendly, caring environment. A personal trainer providing you with clear instruction could be all you need to get you started.

2. Concentrate on form as opposed to size of weights: At the beginning concentrate on your form as opposed to the size of weights you are lifting. This will prevent injury and ensure you reach your goals safely.

3. Begin with full body workouts: Concentrate on full body workouts as opposed to certain muscle groups as this will help increase your overall strength which will prepare your body for more compound exercises as you progress.

4. Incorporate rest periods during sessions/rest days: Allowing your muscles time to rest between sets will enable recovery and muscle growth. Clients can be very militant at beginning and sometimes overdo it. Listen to your body. Soreness is fine, pain is not.

5. Work on imperfections: We all have imbalances when we first start training and will notice we are stronger in some areas and weaker in others. It is therefore important to incorporate isolating exercises into your program to strengthen up areas of weakness. For example one leg may be weaker than the other and you may need to include split squats to work solely on the weaker leg.

6. Leave your stress at home: Personal trainers within The Edge are not here to judge, embarrass or make fun of you. Understand that mistakes are an inevitable (and valuable!) and part of any learning experience. Be yourself, enjoy the atmosphere and most importantly give it a go as I promise you will never regret starting.

Good luck and I look forward to meeting you on the gym floor!

Yours in fitness and health,