Weightlifting has long been a boy’s club. While the men’s sport has been featured in the Olympics since 1896, the women’s event didn’t make the cut until 2000. If you walk into any weight room today, you’ll probably still see it populated mostly with men.
So where are all the women?
Historically, women have been unfairly generalized as the weaker sex. Decades of caricatures and stereotypical gender roles portrayed in popular media have reinforced this characteristic of weakness.
But in recent years, we’ve seen a shift in the cultural conversation. Women are fighting back against this assumption and proving that they are much stronger than you think. They’re standing up for themselves and showing their true strength.
With the rise in women’s empowerment has come a rise in female weightlifting. Women are stepping off the treadmills and exercise bikes and breaking into the boy’s club of the weight room. They’re showing that strength comes in all shapes, sizes, and sexes.
For both men and women, weightlifting has some amazing health benefits that go beyond just looking more muscular. Let’s start with some of the things you can’t see.
One thing that weightlifting can really help with is strengthening your bones. When you add resistance to your movements, it challenges your body and helps it stay strong. This is especially important for women, who tend to have a higher risk of osteoporosis. Strength training can help make up for some of the bone loss that women may experience later in life.
Weight training can also help strengthen your immune system, which fights off disease. It’s especially helpful in fighting inflammation-related diseases such as heart disease or type 2 diabetes. When you start moving more, you wake up so many different parts of your body and kickstart it into action.
See the difference
In addition to those “invisible” health effects, weightlifting can obviously provide some aesthetic benefits as well. Although many women may be concerned that lifting weights will make them seem bulky or too muscular, this doesn’t have to be the case.
Every single person has different goals for her body. So whether you’re looking for big biceps and bulging quads, or if you prefer a more slim and tone look overall, there’s a workout plan for you.
Weightlifting alone won’t make you more bulky. In fact, it can actually shape your body and tone it by burning calories. Bulking up comes from a careful plan of increased caloric intake and heavy lifting. If you’re not looking to gain mass, then make sure you balance both your diet and exercise.
Confidence is key
Beyond just your physical health, weightlifting can also help improve your mental health, too. When you feel stronger, you also gain more confidence and feel better about yourself.
For women especially, this confidence can help open doors in so many aspects of your life. A stronger belief in yourself can help you be more successful at work, strengthen your friendships, and help you find the right romantic partner.
Feeling stronger can also help you feel more secure in potentially dangerous situations. While we wouldn’t advise going into areas that are known for being dangerous, having stronger muscles can help you fight back in any unexpected attacks. Knowing that you are a strong, capable woman can help put your mind at ease when exploring a new area.
Where to start
Now that we’ve thoroughly convinced you why weightlifting is important, let’s touch a little bit on how to get started. For most people, getting started is the hardest part.
If you’re not familiar with the weight room, then all the racks and weights can initially look a little intimidating. Before hitting the gym, learn some of the basic differences in what each rack can do and which exercise it’s best suited for.
If you get to the gym and still have questions, don’t be afraid to ask. Many people in the gym are more than happy to help a new weightlifter learn the ropes. Just make sure you don’t interrupt anyone in the middle of a set.
Learn the moves
Once you get familiar with the equipment, it’s time to learn how to use it. There are hundreds of different movements you can do to help strengthen the muscles all over your body. Even when you think you’ve learned them all, you can combine those moves to create killer compound exercises.
For your upper body, try rows and curls to build up those arm muscles. Once you’ve gained some strength, you can try to work those arms even more with a bench press.
For the lower body, squats and deadlifts are the go-to moves. You can also try lunges and hip thrusts to target other muscles in your legs and butt.
Whenever you’re learning a new exercise, it’s always important to pay attention to your form. It’s best to start with a lighter weight so you can get your body familiar with the proper movement. Once you have it down, you can gradually start adding more weight as you get more comfortable. For most moves, it’s important to remember to keep your core tight and back flat to avoid injuring yourself.
Weightlifting can sometimes seem intimidating, but often the best thing to do is just give it a try. If you don’t feel comfortable jumping right in at your local gym, try watching a few videos at home and practicing with no weight at all. You could also try using milk jugs or heavy cans to slowly add resistance and build up your strength.
Once you hit the weight room, walk in there with pride. Although women are relatively new to the weightlifting scene, they’ve certainly earned their place. Don’t let the big burly men scare you away.
Forget the stereotypes and the myths surrounding women weightlifting. Exercise isn’t about what anyone else thinks, it’s about making you feel better about your body.
So walk into that weight room, grab those weights, and lift your way to the best version of you.