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Why Women Aren’t Weight Training and Why They Should!

First of all, for any Personal Trainers, seasoned bodybuilders, athletes, sports-science-know-it-alls, the following will all seem very basic to you. This piece is aimed at the majority of women that go to the gym but have better things to do with their lives than constantly trowel through fitness blogs and articles to find a million and one different answers to the question, should I be lifting weights? In a nutshell…Yes. Thanks for reading this.

Ok, that’s not really it but this isn’t going to be a long, gym jargon full, science laden, see how many muscles I can name with really long names, article. Just a brief explanation of why Women should be performing more resistance (that’s lifting weights to me and you) exercises in order to slim down and improve their body shape.

Lets crack on.

Reasons Why Women Don’t Lift Weights

Here are a few of the main objections I hear from female members at the gym when a resistance programme is suggested;

● Scared of ‘bulking up’ and looking like Jodie Marsh.
● Not sure what you should be doing, how much weight to lift, and if you are performing the exercises correctly. Basically feeling a little self-conscious because every other person in the gym is an expert (believe me, they’re not!).
● Nervous of free weights area. ‘Nervous’ maybe the wrong word, but not wanting to enter the free weights room of any gym, which often resembles a zoo (often smells like one) but with more grunting than a Wimbledon ladies final, is another common barrier to weight training.
● ‘‘I do loads of cardio’’
● ‘‘I do loads of classes’’

So if you recognize any of these reasons in yourself, then I will BRIEFLY explain away each one and try to persuade you to start chucking a few weights around.


First of all then we’ll tackle the bulking up issue. Probably the most common excuse to why women won’t weight train.
THIS WILL NOT HAPPEN TO YOU. In fact the opposite will happen. You will LOSE weight. Women and men, as I’m sure you’re aware have many hormonal differences. The main one being that men create more testosterone (the growth hormone) which makes men appear bulkier when they lift weights. And believe me this still takes time, even in men. Most of the muscle bound guys you see waddling around the gym with no neck, are the result of years of exercise and constant eating to put on that amount of muscle. I know guys who have worked out for years but can’t put that muscle on no matter how hard they try, so the chances of your oestrogen rich bodies doing this are very slim indeed.

Here’s the most important bit. Instead of bulking up, a weight training program will actually help you slim down. This is because the more lean muscle you build, the more calories your body will burn at rest, therefore speeding up your metabolism. So even when you’re doing nothing at all, your body will be burning more calories than before you started lifting weights. This is the key to weight loss and more importantly keeping it off! You cannot turn muscle into fat but the more muscle you acquire, the more fat you will burn. You’ve no doubt heard people say ‘’muscle weighs more that fat’’. Well, that’s a bit of a daft statement but it means well. One pound of muscle weighs the same as one pound of fat (told you this wouldn’t get technical) but muscle takes up less space in the body therefore enabling you to drop dress sizes, without often losing weight at the scales.

So to summarise, lifting weights will actually make you smaller.

One down...

Ok, so the next excuse was not really knowing what you are doing. This is very simple…Learn. Whenever you start doing something new you won’t know your arse from your elbow. Or your squats from your dead-lifts, it’s the same with everything you do so the gym is no different.
One easy way is to ask a trainer to devise you a program and specifically ask him how to perform each exercise with correct form. We’re not talking loads of money here either. You won’t pay more than £50 for a program with a detailed walkthrough. The money is worth it to ensure you are training correctly and safely. Think of the hours you are going to invest in your own training. So you might as well be sure you are doing it right.

I will explain a lot more about how to actually devise a program for yourself, what you should be lifting, exercises, weights, sets and repetitions etc. in my next piece. Today I’m just trying to convince you to give it a go.

Next excuse…The free weights area.

Simply put…Get over it. Half the blokes in the free weight room don’t know what they’re doing either so don’t worry about looking silly in there. Also, what I tell my clients to do is take the weights they need from the wall and go find a nice quiet spot somewhere else in the gym to exercise. Use the studio if there is no class in there. You are completely within your right to do this. Just make sure you put the weights back after use!

‘‘I just do Cardio’’

Cardiovascular exercises such as running, cycling etc. are great, don’t get me wrong. But just constantly jumping on the treadmill and hitting the 5k button will not do you many favours in the long run (no pun intended).
The human body is very resourceful and learns quickly. It learns to adapt to the stresses placed on it, like exercise for example. Over time your body will become so used to running your little 5k that it learns how to do this in the easiest way possible.
Another example of this is as follows. I’m sure a lot of us out there like a drink, I know I do! Think of a time when you were partying a lot and going out drinking on a regular basis. My money is on the fact that you could drink a lot more before falling out of a club then you can now. This is because your body was forced to adapt to the stress, alcohol in this case, being placed upon it. It’s exactly the same with exercise.

Also cardiovascular exercise will not build your lean muscle up as explained earlier and some studies even suggest that the production of the stress hormone, Cortisol is increased when performing cardio at a slow to medium pace. Cortisol is actually linked to fat storage, especially around the belly.

In summary mix up your exercise. Push yourself further than the week before.

And finally ‘‘I just do classes’’

Classes are a great motivational tool. The class environment undoubtedly spurs you on and pushes you to work harder. But, look around the class you’re in…You are surrounded by 20 different people. Yes, DIFFERENT people. Everybody in that class will have different fitness levels, different fitness goals, different levels of experience, the list is endless.
I have taught hundreds of classes in my life and it is impossible to ensure every member of that class is performing the right exercises in the correct way, as time does not allow me to correct everyone.
Also classes are pretty much the same every week so no progression can be achieved so again the body learns to cope with the stress of the class, and you stop improving.

So there it is. A few things to think about and hopefully I have convinced you (or a little more so than before) that your exercise regime needs resistance training. I tried to keep it as simple as possible as I believe some of these blogs are just showpieces to make the trainer seem so very knowledgeable and make fitness seem a lot more complicated than it is!

Next week I’ll tell you how to get started with your resistance programme. If I haven’t bored you to tears with this one!

See you later.