Subj: Weight training for women to enhance health, happiness and wellbeing.
Alternate Title: Get Over the Weight on the Scale and Focus on the Weight You lift.
The weight room if not just a boys club.
Both men and women want to be fit, healthy and strong.
And there’s no better way to be fit, healthy and strong than lifting weights.
Guys and girls lift for the same reasons: To look good, to feel good, to challenge themselves, or for sheer enjoyment.
Regardless of the reason for lifting, when you lift weights you build something lasting that you take with you into the world. Weight training makes you strong, healthy and confident.
These traits will radiate into everything else you do including, work, school and relationships.
However, there’s still a gap between how women think about weight training and how it can help them on their fitness journey.
I know this from talking to female friends, family, colleagues and strangers at the gym.
They tell me things like, “I just want to get toned so that’s why I run.”
Spoiler Alert: Running on the treadmill will not get you toned. Lifting weights on the other hand, will get you toned fast.
Don’t kill the messenger here but jogging two hours a day won’t get you much more than tired.
There’s better way to get toned than the slow grind of running:
Heavy Weight Lifting
Lifting weights will not only tone your body faster than running, it will make you strong and healthy.
Sure it might sounds crazy at first, and I get it – Lifting weights started out as a manly thing men do to get big, strong and more manly.
There seems to be a notion that if women do a manly thing like lift weights they will grow huge muscle, body hair and a pair of balls.
That’s just not true. In fact, the opposite will happen.
Weight training will firm, tighten and tone your body from head to toe and will actually enhance your feminine assets.
How can that be??
To put it briefly – our bodies, male and female, are designed to move the same way. We both have arms and legs with muscles that push and pull.
The difference is our hormones, specifically testosterone that determines our musculature.
Women have just enough testosterone to build firm, toned muscles but not enough to build huge muscles. BUT in order to see this benefit you must train using resistance. (i.e. lift weights and body exercises!)
Heavy barbell squats create shapely legs and glutes. Bench press for toned shoulders and perky chest. Deadlift for strong arms, back and abs.
The best looking girl at my gym is a powerlifter. Her workout consists of heavy bench press, squats, and deadlifts. I’ve never seen her on the treadmill or stair master.
Weight Training for Women
My point is, many women tend to focus on their weight rather than their health. Gaining weight can actually be a good thing.
But don’t take it from me. Take it from female fitness guru, Gabby Male(@gmalefit).
Gabby is a person trainer and fitness entrepreneur with a great message for women who want to be healthy but don’t know where to begin.
I was in the midst of writing this article when I took a break to scroll Instagram when the picture you see above popped up on my feed.
A picture is worth a thousand words, and her post perfectly portrayed what I was trying to say: Gaining weight is a good thing as long as it’s the right weight!
So, I reached out to learn more about her fitness journey and get the first hand account of how weight training can help women get strong and healthy.
This article covers:
- The Benefits of weight training for women
- How you can eat more food, have more energy and feel better
- Beginner Weight Lifting Workout Routine for Women
- Flexible Dieting
- The Vicious Circle of Calorie Restriction
- How lifting weights can slow, and in some cases, reverse the aging process
From this point forward, Gabby’s words are italicized and mine are normal text.
My Name is Gabby Male and I am 21 years old. I was born in Salisbury, England, but I moved to Granville, Ohio when I was 4 years old, and now I am attending college at The University of Kentucky in Lexington, KY.
At the University of Kentucky I am a public health major with a minor in Health Promotion. I work at the campus gym as a manager, and I am in the process of getting my certification for personal training!
My fitness journey truly began in my senior year of high school after soccer season ended.
My whole life I had coaches, parents, and teammates making me practice and be active, so as soon as it ended I knew I didn’t want to just sit around, so I decided to get into fitness and work on my “dream body” since I had never really had a positive body image and I wanted to change that.
Eat More + Lift Heavy = Healthy Gains
It started off really well, I lost a lot of weight really fast, but I quickly became way too obsessed with counting calories, and losing more and more weight.
I went from 146 to 118lbs in 4 months and realized that I was being way too obsessive about food and working out once or twice a day… it was slowly taking away my social life, and my mental health.
I didn’t have an eating disorder, but I had very disordered eating. I then decided I wanted to fix my obsessive eating and desire to be “small” and instead be healthy and strong, so I started lifting heavier weights, eating more food, and focusing more on the weight I was lifting in the gym, not the weight on the scale.
It hasn’t been easy, there have been many ups and downs, but I have slowly taught myself to be happy and love my body whatever state it is in (cutting or bulking) and lifting weights has completely changed the shape of my body for the better and my metabolism as well!
I can eat a lot more food, have awesome lifts, and I’m not always worried or obsessing over calories.
Fitness is Life Changing
Fitness has made me who I am.
I am strong, confident, and it has taught me so much self-discipline. I love setting goals and hitting them, it keeps me motivated.
Also, I never want to be unhappy with my body again or not be confident in my own skin, so that is why I love, and continue my fitness journey.
I started this journey of becoming a “social media influencer” just over a year ago. It is insane how much I have changed mentally and physically because of things like Instagram and YouTube.
The amount of support I have received from people I know personally, as well as people I have never even met is unreal. Having someone email me or comment on my posts telling me I have helped them jumpstart their journey, or that I have inspired them in any way at all makes me the happiest person alive.
I started these social media platforms not to show off or boast, but to simply inspire people.
I have received hundreds of emails from girls and guys asking for fitness advice and telling me that I have helped them or motivated them, and this makes everything worth it.
Lifting Weights Builds Muscle and Muscle Burns Calories
Women of all shapes and sizes shouldn’t be scared to pick up the weights for a few reasons.
When you have more muscle you actually raise your metabolism and can burn up to 30-50 calories per lb of muscle you add. So, add 5-10lb of muscle and you will be burning around 250-500 more calories a day.
Women get scared of getting bulky, but LISTEN UP LADIES: We do not have the correct hormones or levels of certain hormones to build muscle as quickly as men.
I promise you, you WILL NOT get bulky from lifting, you just won’t. You will get bulky if you are eating way too much, but not from lifting.
Lifting weights makes you stronger mentally and physically and it is also SO empowering. It makes me feel invincible.
I suggest all my clients, friends, family, and people who ask me all the time to lift weights more and also incorporate some cardio to maintain a healthy, strong, but also lean figure.
General recommendation is 4-6 days a week lifting (depending on your level of fitness) and 2-3 days with an added cardio session! I have some awesome (AND CHEAP!) workout guides you can find here: www.gabbymale.com
Weight Training Workout for Women
For about two years now I have been following a bodybuilding style workout regime.
I got through phases of heavier lifting with lower reps when I want to build muscle, and then lighter weights with higher reps when I am cutting for an event.
Right now I am building muscle (#bulkingseason) but my split goes like this:
Monday – Chest/Triceps/Shoulders
Tuesday – Biceps/Back
Wednesday – Legs (Hamstring/Glute focused)
Thursday – Shoulders/Chest/Abs
Friday – Legs (Quad/Glute focused)
Saturday – Active Rest Day
Sunday – Cardio/Light Legs/Abs
Weight Training Diet Tips for Women
I follow an IIFYM (If It Fits Your Macros) approach to eating. Like I mentioned before I have a history of restrictive and disordered eating, so it has been a long road but I finally have found my own way of “balance”.
I believe that there are no “good” or “bad” foods. Obviously an oreo isn’t as good as a cup of spinach, but both foods provide a certain amount of protein carbs and fats that will add to your total caloric/macro budget.
I find that having a “good” and “bad” food approach to nutrition can create a sticky relationship. You begin to feel guilty when you eat a burger, or a slice of pizza, or maybe your best friend brought you a cake for your birthday.
You shouldn’t be scared of food, because this just creates a cycle of negative emotions and thoughts when you decide to eat a certain food.
I personally find that doing 85% whole, nutritious-dense and more natural foods and then 15% of more calorie dense foods is a good way to balance everything.
‘Flexible Dieting’ allows you to Eat the Food You Love!
I love IIFYM because if I want to go to dinner with my boyfriend and get a burger I CAN! Or if I am craving a pizza or a donut, I can make it work into my day (not every day.. but sometimes you just need that donut!).
If you are confused about macros or want to learn more I have a macro ebook which you can find here.
When it comes to alcohol, I really pick and choose my weekends! I like to have a glass of wine here and there but as far as going out with friends and drinking I would say I do that once a month!
Again, BALANCE!And balance is different for everyone. My balance probably looks totally different from your balance… but for me, that is what works!
I typically will go for a 0 calorie mixer and vodka, and I’ve found that Titos is the lowest calorie! I also have been loving Smirnoff Seltzers that are 90 cals and 1 carb!
Overall our relationship with food is complex, diverse, and different for everyone. Not one person will have a “magical diet” that works for everyone.
You have to experiment, have some ups and downs, and find foods that YOU love, that work with YOUR body, and that keep YOU feeling good.
Stay away from “quick fix” diets and remember that the best diet is the one that you can personally stick to!
The Vicious Circle of Calorie Restriction
Your body needs calories to perform properly. Calorie restriction will cause you to lose weight, lose muscle and slow your metabolism.
Maintaining a calorie restrictive diet is hard and will eventually fail. When the diet fails and you go back to eating normally, your body stores fat easy because your metabolism slowed. This is the yo-yo diet effect caused by restricting calories.
Your better off lifting weights and building muscle.
Your body needs the extra calories to get through tough workouts and you can be happy knowing those calories will actually help you tone!
Bottom Line: Stop restricting calories. Eat to refuel your body and grow stronger.
Lifting Weights can Reverse Signs of Aging
Aging is essentially damage. Aging is a side effect of your biological processes slowing down due to damage over time.
Toxins, impurities, and too much extra body fat cause you to age faster. Toxins are ingested with the foods you eat and absorbed from your environment.
I remember seeing a picture taken of two identical twins standing side by side. Both were 50 years old at the time the picture was taken but one twin looked significantly younger.
The older looking twin was a smoker while the younger looking twin was not. The smoking twin looked 10 years older than the non-smoking twin.
What does this have to do with weight lifting? Aging is damage, and damage is caused by toxins. Weight training makes you sweat and sweat flushes toxic buildup from your body.
The stronger you are, i.e. the more weight you lift, the stronger your bones. Dense bones are stronger than non dense bones. The heavier the weight you lift, the stronger your bones become.
Building healthy muscle prevents atrophy (breaking down) of muscle and bones. Meaning that lifting heavy weights can slow the effects of osteoporosis.
Lifting weights will make you look more youthful, have more energy and feel better.
It’s no coincidence that all youthful looking older women are fit.
Weight Lifting is a Fat-Blasting Triple Threat
What I mean by that is:
- The act of weight lifting burns a lot of calories. (plus the afterburner effect for bonus calorie burn-age)
- Weight lifting builds muscle.
- Muscle burns calories 24/7/365.
Try a simple weight training workout routine for a month and see the benefits for yourself!