When I first thought of writing a piece on body composition and weight training the first thing that sprung to mind was how many misconceptions there are. The biggest and most frustrating one being the majority of women thinking that lifting heavy weights equals morphing into the hulk overnight. When I say ‘heavy’, this seems to be anything over 2.5kg, because I rarely see a woman at my gym lift any heavier. What are they hoping to achieve?
I’m watching them bang out about thirty reps and not a bead of sweat to be seen! The thing is I’m fairly certain I know exactly what kind of body the majority of women want. It’s the kind of body that I myself saw in fitness magazines when I first started. It’s the likes of Jamie Eason, Ava Cowan, Ashley Horner…I could go on. These are women who have trained damn hard for years to get to where they are today! Ladies, in order to achieve the body of your dreams you have to first understand your body. Significantly lower levels of testosterone to our male counterparts make it a lot more difficult for us to build muscle. In fact, men have on average over sixteen times more testosterone than women. Add to this the fact that oestrogen greatly interferes with building muscle and there’s no denying we are very different creatures. We simply do not have the hormonal support that men do. Lifting like the guys does not mean you will look like one, that fear is simply unwarranted.
I remember before I got into weight training how I would spend day after day on the treadmill and elliptical trainer and some light weights. I was a typical cardio bunny, and sure I lost a ton of weight, but I was severely disillusioned with what I was left with. I could now fit into my size 8 jeans but I had absolutely no shape left. No hips, no butt, no thighs to speak of and while my arms were thinner I was now left with hanging skin or bingo wings as they’re better known! So why did I not end up with a ‘toned’ body worthy of a fitness mag cover? It’s quite simple, you cannot tone what you don’t have! In order to have a shapely body you have to first build a shape before stripping away body fat. The curves that us women long for are attained by building delts, lats, glutes, quads, hams, calves etc. The benefits of weight training for women don’t end there. You will be stronger, more confident, sleep better, have a more positive outlook, and best of all your body will become a fat burning machine! By improving your body composition you can significantly reduce your body fat percentage. By increasing your metabolism even at rest your body will be burning fat…who wouldn’t want that! Strength training also increases bone density, reducing the risk of osteoporosis which is a very real concern for women.
These are to name but a few of the many, many benefits of resistance training for women. In the age of information there is no excuse to be misinformed. So, take a step back, re-evaluate what you want, stop listening to mainstream media, do your own research, get yourself some positive role models and get to know your body. Once you are armed with the right knowledge get to the gym and get lifting!!