“Strength” is a word that is very in vogue right now for women. It seems that you can’t turn on your TV, log on to your computer, or open a magazine without some expert talking about the importance of female strength.
Pinterest must easily have a million posts dedicated to the subject, usually with some artfully displayed motivational quote, and it would seem that every other Facebook post is some inspirational jibber-jabber espousing the virtues of #Strength. Discovering, developing, and unleashing your strength comes in many forms: Inner strength. Mental strength. Moral strength.
I’m not here to talk about any of the metaphorical or metaphysical aspects of strength.
I’m here to talk about the metabolic and metamorphic type of strength. I’m here to talk about strength Strength. As in training our bodies to do more, bear more, and boost more. I’m talking about creating real physical strength in order to create real change in our minds and bodies. I’m talking about lifting heavy things as a way to create light in our lives. I’m talking about badass women doing badass things with their bodies.
I’m talking about Weight Training for women.
I’m talking about #RealStrength.
Now, let’s get this out of the way: This is a Pro-Weight Training article. This is not an Anti-Cardio post. It is not an Anti-Yoga post. It is not an Anti-ANYTHING post.
There are real benefits to any and all types of physical activity, and I’m not here to knock any other form of exercise. What I am here to do is illustrate why more women should spend less time jogging or in downward facing dog, and more time doing clean and presses or squats.
There seem to be an endless supply of reasons women avoid weight training. Some of these reasons are influenced by our friends, some by the media, and most of them are pulled straight from our own personal bags of sad excuses. Well, strap in, ladies. I’m about to bust all those myths, reasons, and excuses you’ve been lead to believe and holding on to for years.
1. It Will Make Me Bulky and Gain Weight
Without a doubt, this is the number one excuse women give for not lifting weight, and it is total and complete garbage.
Unless you’re planning on spending several hours of a day in a gym, pumping iron, drinking protein shakes, and guzzling water by the gallon, you are not going to bulk up. Lifting weights for 30 minutes a day will not magically turn you into The Hulk.
Now, it is true that you might gain muscle weight when you start to lift on a regular basis, however, that is not something to be feared.
We are taught to fear the number on the scale and to do whatever possible to keep that number as low as possible. In a recent study, girls as young as six years old were found to place higher value in people with lower weight than those with a higher number.
We are taught that as women, our physical weight is a direct measurement of not just our size, but our personal worth as a human being. Women must end their fear based relationship with the scale.
Muscle mass weighs more per cubic inch than fat, and therefore it is possible to shrink your physical appearance while increasing your overall weight. In other words, lifting weight will make your fat shrink while your muscles grow.
2. It Takes Too Much Time
While this excuse is universally utilized by nearly every form of exercise, the common misconception that weight training translates into hours upon hours in the gym makes this the number one reason women avoid weight training.
Women have extremely busy daily schedules, and the idea of spending several hours in the gym seems impossible. Cardio is often credited with being quick and easy, and therefore preferable for women compared to weight training.
In actuality, a 10 to 15 minute high interval session with weights or kettlebells can burn more fat, more calories, and build more muscle than 30 minutes of walking on a treadmill. And speaking of burning calories…
3. Weight Training Doesn’t Burn as Many Calories as Cardio
First of all, if you’re doing weight training properly, then you’re also getting a cardio workout.
However, we’ll suspend that thought for a moment and get down to the science: Weight training can not only burn as many calories as a treadmill, elliptical, rowing machine or yoga class in a single session, it continues to burn additional calories throughout the day and into the night. That’s right! Weight training literally makes your body burn calories in your sleep.
The added muscle increases your resting metabolic rate, meaning your body requires more calories to function. The more muscle you add, the more calories you burn while you’re on the beach, in the shower, or napping on your couch. Cardio can’t touch that.
4. I’m Afraid I’ll Get Hurt
Can you get hurt while weight training? Of course. You know what else can cause injury? Running. (I have had two stress fractures and a torn plantar fascia to prove it.) (I had three weeks of PT to work on a torn shoulder muscle from a sudden jerk of the handles.) Yoga. (This one speaks for itself, really. Some of those positions are complete madness.)
The truth is, you can find yourself injured in nearly any and all type of activity. The key is educating yourself, making moderate gains, and listening to your body when it is giving you pain signals.
And at the end of the day, if your goal is to keep yourself from being hurt, injured, or in the hospital, weight training is one of the greatest forms of exercise to keep your body healthy and strong in the future.
Women suffer sleeping disorders and bone density loss at a rate that is significantly disproportionate to their male counterparts.
Additionally, 1 in 3 women will suffer a life threatening or catastrophic stroke or cardiac event in their lifetime. Weight training has been scientifically linked to a statistically significant reduction in sleep disorders, greater bone health, and a massive reduction in heart disease.
As a matter of fact, the American Heart Associate advocates for moderate strength training over cardio activity in some circumstances when it comes to women’s heart health. So, if you’re afraid to weight train because you might get hurt, consider weight training as an alternative to the long term hurt of a heart attack or stroke.
Weight training is more than the repetitive lifting and dropping of heavy objects, it is the gateway to a holistically healthier, mentally fitter, and physically stronger way of life. Real strength comes from facing down obstacles, breaking down barriers, and pushing yourself further than you were able to go the day before. It is overcoming what was impossible yesterday and looking forward to what progress lies ahead tomorrow.
Weight training goes beyond the simple act of building muscle, it builds confidence, reduces the occurrence of physical and mental ailments later in life, and builds true strength in all aspects of our lives. What woman wouldn’t want all of that? Get over your excuses. Get out of your comfort zone. Get ready to lift something heavy and build something greater than just muscle: Get ready to build a better you.