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Lift Like A Girl: A Women’s Guide to Weightlifting

by Christie Stelly

“Women shouldn’t lift weights.”

“Lifting weights makes women look manly.”

“Lifting weights will make a woman look bulky and unattractive.”

These statements are all completely false and borderline offensive. The common belief that women do not have a place in the world of weightlifting is one that has been disproven again and again.

“When I began to lift in the weight room I was more focused and more motivated to watch my form and concentrate more on my self-growth,” said CCSU student, Mary Sumislaski. No matter what a woman’s fitness goal may be, lifting weights can be a part of her regular routine. Surprisingly, according to Women’s Health Magazine, only about one out five females strength train two or more times a week.

“The first time I started lifting in the weight room, I was about 18. I was honestly tired of doing just cardio and wanted to actually work on my body all around,” Sumislaski said.

“I remember I would grab weights from the rack then move them to another area of the gym because I was intimidated that I wasn’t doing the correct form or how light the weights were, but it honestly didn’t push me to do better when I hid in the corner,” Sumislaski continued.

Due to insecurities, an unwelcoming feeling and a lack of support, women tend to stick to the cardio machines to get physical results.  Studies have proven that strength training is more beneficial for weight loss than cardio.

According to a study by Penn State researchers, weightlifters lost the most weight out of any other group. The study separated three groups of dieters; no exercise, aerobic exercise only, or aerobic exercise and weight training.

One of the reasons why weight training is preferred to cardio, is because you will actually burn more calories. When you lift weights, you are tearing apart your muscle fibers. Well, your muscles need energy in order to replace those fibers. Therefore, your metabolism will spike and you will burn more calories as a result.

All of the groups lost approximately 21 pounds, but the lifters shed six more pounds of fat than non-weightlifters. The other groups were found to have had not only fat loss but muscle loss as well. The group of lifters lost almost purely fat.

The American College of Sports Medicine recommends weightlifting for all adults at least twice a week.

Some argue that weightlifting is especially important to a woman’s health because they naturally have less muscle than men to begin with. With that information, we can debunk the following common statement.

“Women can become too manly from lifting.”  Women do not have the amount of testosterone that men have, which is why it is nearly impossible for them to achieve that “bulky manly” look through weightlifting alone. “I think as girls, we’re conditioned from a young age to think that woman is equivalent to weak,” NASM certified personal trainer, Sam Branum said.  “So many girls I talk to are scared to be strong because strength is masculine.  Strength isn’t just for men, it’s for whoever is willing to work for it,” she said.

“I think as girls, we’re conditioned from a young age to think that woman is equivalent to weak,” said Sam Branum, a National Academy of Sports Medicine Certified Trainer.  “So many girls I talk to are scared to be strong because strength is masculine.  Strength isn’t just for men, it’s for whoever is willing to work for it.

A large majority of women are unhappy and uncomfortable with their bodies. Many want to “spot reduce” parts of their body with extra fat; usually on their abdomen or the inside of their thighs.

It’s vital to overall health and fitness for women to realize that there is no such thing as “spot reducing.” Cardio alone isn’t the answer to weight loss goals. Weight training allows individuals to work on specific areas of the body.

Women will be excited to hear that the more you strength train, the more muscle you build and the more you can eat. When you have more muscle mass on your body, your metabolism and body will overall run more efficiently.

“I learned so many new exercises and became fascinated with how I was able to change my body shape, that it became even more of a push to see what else I could do. Eventually, my form was getting better and my weights were getting heavier. I’m not where I want to be yet, but I’m getting closer every day,” said Sumislaski.

Women should remember that they don’t need the validation of others in the weight room. Go outside your comfort zone, consult with a trainer to develop a weight lifting routine and enjoy the health benefits.

Be aware, symptoms of weight lifting include weight loss, a positive attitude, a healthy mindset, and a sense of confidence and self-worth.

Three ways you can be more confident in the weights section:

  • Make a plan. Plan your workout ahead of time so that you know exactly what you are doing before you walk in. Online video tutorials may be helpful in planning a regimen. If you have a written plan, you will be less likely to aimlessly walk around and feel self-conscious.
  • Go with a friend. You will be less likely to feel uncomfortable if you have someone by your side. Do partner style workouts. It will be more fun and the company will motivate you to work harder.
  • Be consistent. Nobody feels strong and confident the first time they enter a weight room. If you continue to show up, day after day you will see that you become more comfortable. You will feel and see results sooner.