the joy of strength training


October 31st, 2007 at 11:30 pm

Why women should train with weights

Many women are reluctant to get into weight training or if they do, are reluctant to progress and lift heavier weights for fear of looking like a female bodybuilder! Well, let’s deal with that one right up front.


If you train with weights, you will look better than ever!

In proportionYou won’t get big – really! It’s really hard for women to build a lot of muscle. We just don’t have the right hormones for it. Most female bodybuilders use drugs, that’s why they look the way they do. Stay away from the steroids and male hormones, ladies, and you’ll be fine.

The truth is that some extra muscle will make your body firmer and more shapely. Your silhouette will also improve. Want to make your hips look smaller? Simply build up your shoulders a bit and the effect will be of smaller hips and a smaller waist.

Having more muscle will also increase your metabolic rate, meaning that you’ll be burning more calories even when at rest. It’s much easier to drop body fat when you’ve got some muscle to help burn it off.

Moreover, without any intervention our muscle-to-fat ratio declines as we get older, lowering our metabolic rate and making it easier to put on fat. Weight training can put the brakes on this and even reverse the trend.

I’ve been weight training for a couple of years now. Combined with a decent diet, I’ve dropped two dress sizes and instead of the dreaded hip/bum spread that would have been my endomorphic fate as I entered my thirties I am nicely in proportion, as you can see in this photo. I’d like to drop a bit more body fat – wouldn’t we all? But generally I am happy with my shape.

If you want to see an even more impressive transformation, check out Maggie Wang’s before and after pictures. And while you’re there, have a browse around her site, it’s full of good information on fitness and diet.

Health and well-being

Weight training is particularly useful for women as it helps to increase bone density. Older women (postmenopausal) are especially prone to osteoporosis and weight training can really help mitigate against its onset or effects.

Weight training doesn’t put jarring pressure on the joints in the way that high-impact aerobic exercise does. It also strengthens the muscles, making cardiovascular exercise easier. I love my cardio exercise but I have had my fair share of injuries doing high-impact cardio such as running, whereas I’ve never had an injury from weight training.

Plus, it’s always useful to have more functional strength – whether it’s for doing DIY around the home, hefting the kids about or showing off about how many pull-ups we can do.

As we get older, greater strength makes us feel more independent and capable. It really does feel good to be able to walk into a gym and heft a bar that’s heavier than you. This is a very achievable aim, believe me!


I find weight training fun! Weight training has an undeserved reputation for being dull, but it really doesn’t have to be.

If you don’t like the idea of traditional exercises like squat and deadlift, you could try Olympic weight-lifting, which is much more explosive and challenging. Or get into bodyweight training or use more unconventional resistence like sandbags, tractor tyres or sledgehammers. Personally, I mix it up and do the lot – although not all in one session!

Training with a friend also makes the whole thing more fun. Blokes often have a gym buddy for the weights room, to help spot and encourage, so why not women too?

The bottom line is that for continuing health, strength and beauty, weight training is incredibly effective and it makes you feel great.

Are you convinced yet?

For further persuasion, read the article Ten Reasons Women Should Lift Weights

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