Why it is important for females to weight train:

As the holidays are getting closer and the time of year when we decide to make new changes for ourselves approaches, one common goal for many females is to lose fat from all parts of their bodies.

When I am not training clients, I often spend time reading health & fitness books, which more often than not, talk about weight loss… Let’s just call it fat loss, because weight in our bodies consist of muscles, bones, ligaments, tendons and fluids which make up our total weight in pounds (kilograms).

A few common misconceptions about weight training are hindering females from actually lifting weights and achieving their fitness goals. I am here to help clarify some of the myths and misconceptions, or questions you might have:

1 – If you weight train, you will look like a bodybuilder
2 – You’re unsure of what weight to start off with
3 – You feel uncomfortable at the gym, because everyone is looking at you
4 – You’re not sure how to use a certain machine and/or weights
5 – You only want to “tone” a certain area of your body because you already like the other parts of your body

Some of you may be sitting and reading this and thinking to yourself, “Geez, that does sound like me”. If that’s the case, I hope I can change your mentality about weight training.

I don’t want to look like a body-builder
Let’s start with the biggest one: “If I weight train, I will get muscular and look like a body builder or a man”. When I tell clients at the start of a session that it is weight training day, they look at me incredulously without understanding what weight training can really do for them. Let’s go over some key points about female weight training.

Weight training helps improve posture, build lean muscle, is a stress reliever and elevates your heart rate (provided you are lifting weights you find challenging). This helps to burn more calories. Do not use the female bodybuilders you see on TV or in magazines as a blueprint for what weight training does. These females have made it their choice to look the way they do. They have invested time and money to look like that. They can spend, on average, several hours a day in the gym working out to look like that. They have a special body building coaches and a nutritionist on hand. Their diets are not what we eat on a daily basis, which is a lot of protein (lean chicken, lean meats and lots of veggies). Most of these females are also taking testosterone pills to overpower the estrogen in their bodies. Hence, unless you follow the same strict regimen of training and eating, you will not get the same results and will not end up looking like a body builder.

How do I know which weight to start off with?
Most people walk into a gym and get overwhelmed by the amount of fancy gym equipment and have no idea where to start or even which weight to start with. When picking a weight to start off with, you want to pick a weight that you find challenging. You should be completing 8-12 repetitions (reps). If you can only do 5, then the weight is too heavy. Remember, it takes time to build up muscular tolerance. A quick reminder: just because you can do bicep curls with 20lb weights, it doesn’t
mean you should be using the same weights for every exercise. For some exercises, you may only be able to use 15 pounds and others, 25 pounds. A rule of thumb is always to start with lower weights and work your way up and this will help prevent any injuries.

People are always looking at me
Now that you have walked into the gym and found the correct weight, you still feel uncomfortable in the gym setting because you think everyone is looking at you. Though you may be right, they are probably only looking at you because you’re still finding your way around the gym. However, in most cases people are minding their own business, doing their own routine and focusing on their results. If you are self-conscious because of the males in the gym, there are plenty of female only gyms out there to choose from. A good way to feel comfortable in a gym setting is always do a walk through. Another way to get involved in the gym is to talk with the reception staff. They usually have suggestions to help make anyone feel comfortable.

I don’t know how to use the machines
Again, to help make you feel more comfortable, take a walk around the facility and learn about all the machines prior to using them. This should only take a few minutes. I do this whenever I visit a new gym I’ve never been to before. I walk around and see which machines are available and note the ones I know how to use and study the ones I don’t know by reading the labels on the machine. At most gyms, there are trainers or gym attendants on staff that can assist you with either demonstrating or giving instructions on how to use the weights/machines. When in doubt, ask.

I only want to tone one part of my body
The most common question I get asked as a trainer is, “How can I just train my arms, or just my abs?” In fitness, there is no such thing as fat zoning, or reducing fat in one specific area. Fat comes off from all parts of our bodies. Some will notice it from their faces, arms, abs, bums and legs. During the first few months is when changes are happening. Don’t let the scale fool you because when you get leaner, you are building lean muscles, which do weigh more than fat. Although you may gain weight on the scale, you may have lost inches off the stomach and waist. To me, inches off of the stomach and waist is a greater indication of fat loss than what a number on a scale shows.

Here is a very important reminder: nutrition and what you eat go HAND in HAND with weight training. You should be consuming protein, carbohydrates, healthy fats and lots and lots of water.

I hope you now understand that weight training isn’t just for men and that it does help achieve fat loss and improve overall health in women too when done correctly.

Thanks for taking the time to read my post. Please leave a comment about how you feel regarding female weight training