Straight to the Bar

All Things Strength


Women and Weight
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Kelly MillsOkay, am here with barbell in hand to answer your top five burning questions about women and weight training. Because while many guys are spending hours in the gym doing bicep curls and shrugs in front of the mirror, many women are camping out on the cardio equipment and rarely lifting anything heavier than a cup of coffee. So here’s everything you ever wanted to know about weight training, as long as these five questions were all you ever wanted to know. Ahem. Let’s begin.

  1. Should women lift weights as part of their fitness program?


  2. Could you elaborate a little bit on that?

    Yes, but please note that you have now used up two questions, so be careful or you’ll end up with none left. Look, weight training is essential for us ladies, because it builds strong bones and keeps you from getting osteoporosis. It reduces the risk of injury in other activities. Muscle burns calories. You get to be strong and toned. You get better at your other athletic stuff. And it is totally badass. You need to be badass.

  3. But won’t I get bulk…

    No! No to the no. No no no. Look, the majority of women do not have the testosterone to build muscle mass the way guys do without taking steroids. Really and truly. Yes, if you make that muscle a wee bit bigger but you lose no fat at all, then might get a teensy bit larger. Add cardio exercise and you should be set. And if you are in the very small percentage of women who can build mass, hooray, because that’s insta-tone for you. I’m one of those women, and can I tell you something? It’s obvious I build muscle because I keep mass even when I don’t work out. My six-year-old, who inherited this too, has defined deltoids. But even for me, as long as I don’t do giant lifts every dang day, I’m fine. And since I’m gonna have big muscle no matter what, I’d prefer it looked defined and ripped and all that good stuff. So there’s really no excuse.

  4. What kind of weight training should I do?

    That really depends on you, your situation, your personality, and so on. I do believe that all weight training is at a minimum enhanced by a good professional opinion, since form is important for protecting yourself from injury. And I prefer free weights myself, because while machines have the safety element of isolating a muscle, free weights force you to use multiple muscles (abdominals, for example) and therefore are great for the lazy multi-taskers among us.

    Beyond that, you do what you can. Some folks like a routine circuit, others need to mix it up. I’ll mention again that trainers can be helpful for creating a program that works for you, teaching you new moves, and adding variety. I get bored easily, so I like classes and this crazy anaerobic functional training and Olympic lifts and so on, but you should do what you like.

    One thing to keep in mind: researchers have done studies on ladies and weights, and as it turns out, most of us don’t lift anywhere near what we should. We pick up weenie little dumbbells and stick with them until the end of time. Your weightlifting should be challenging, you should feel muscle fatigue and all that good stuff. You should find three sets of eight to twelve reps hard. Plus, again: big weights are badass.

    Use body weight exercises in your routine too, like squats and lunges and push ups. Lunges are the key to a nice ass, I’m telling you. Every celebrity trainer makes their starlet do lunges. And yep, you can do those with weights as well, and you should, because you are (wait for it) a badass. With a nice ass, thanks to your lunges.

  5. Anything else I should know?

    I’d just like to review the big, important stuff: form is crucial, so get help from a pro if you can; you won’t get big rippling muscles unless you ‘roid up; make those weights big and good and heavy, and yeah, do it. A few times a week. Please.

    Oh, one last thing. Try and work your whole body, because you don’t want to fall into the man-trap of neglecting one part of the body (some men ignore anything that isn’t going to beef up arms and chest). It all counts, your body works best when you get the whole thing in shape, and you end up looking more proportional. Hmmm, maybe we oughta do a men’s weightlifting advice thing too…

Over to you. Drop us a line on Twitter ( @scottbird ), or add a comment below.



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Kelly Mills blogs at Fitness Fixation, That's Fit, and Babble; and is an author for Straight to the Bar.
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