Three years ago, when I decided to start exercising regularly, I knew I wanted to incorporate some weights into my workouts. I had never done much weight lifting before, save for a semester-long class in high school, so it’s safe to say, I had no idea what I was doing.
I knew resistance training would speed up my metabolism though, and pushing heavy things around seemed like an appropriate outlet for my stress, so I put together a plan and headed over to the free weights . . . with all the guys.
Don’t get me wrong, there were a few ladies who made their home at the dumbbell rack, but mostly it was occupied by the men. I noticed, of course, that I was the clear minority in this particular area of the gym, but I didn’t give it much attention. Instead, I studied up on all of the exercises I planned to do, watched videos, and got obsessed with learning proper form before attempting the exercises at the gym.
If I was going to be one of the only girls lifting, I wanted to be doing it right.
So, off I went to the weights area in the back of the gym, with a plan to follow, some technique tips, and a little fear that I would embarrass myself. And I lifted the weights. Then, I kept lifting the weights. And I lifted weights until I got good at it and my body got strong.
And a funny thing happened. Those big men started complimenting me and asking questions about my workout plan. So did the women. My confidence grew and I felt like I belonged right there, next to the group of firemen who could curl my body weight.
See, the thing is, no one ever told me whether or not I belonged in a weight room. From the looks of it, maybe I didn’t, but we can all break up the norm every now and then and this norm didn’t make any sense to me anyway, so I went for it. And you can go for it too.
The benefits of weight bearing exercise for women are worth it. This is how we stave off osteoporosis, ladies. We put our bones under some heavy weight so they can get stronger and not break on us when we are in our later years. This is also how we ramp up our metabolism. More muscle equals better body composition and more calorie burning.
Now, I think I know what you might be thinking right about now, because I thought it too: “Won’t I get big?” I know this is a fear for many women. What if you start lifting weights and then you get these huge muscles and look like a man?!
Well, unless you are training specifically for muscle mass, you don’t need to worry about it. What will happen when you start training with weights? Yes you will gain muscle, but it is the kind of pretty, round muscle that gives you all the curves and lines you’ve been wanting, not humongous man-muscles.
Remember, if you want BIG muscles, you have to train specifically for BIG muscles. But, those gorgeous shoulders you see on your favorite celebrity/fitness model/whomever? Those are the kinds of muscles we want and can build with a good weight training plan.
Plus, muscles make you strong. And we need to be physically strong for basic daily life. Pulling weeds in the garden, changing a flat tire, picking up our children, moving furniture around in the living room when we’re ready for a change. These things all require us to have some strength, some muscle.
Let’s honor ourselves by letting go of our fear and building our strength and our confidence.
Here are a few tips for getting started.
- Make a plan.
Hire a trainer, watch videos of exercises you want to try, research proper form and technique, and get prepared before you head over to the weights so you can feel confident in what you’re about to do.
- Start light.
You don’t need to lift heavy right out of the gate. You’ve got time to work up to that if that’s your goal. In the beginning, focus on good form rather than moving a lot of weight.
- Take a friend.
It’s always easier to try something new when you have someone to do it with you. Ask a friend or your partner to do this with you.
- Own it.
There are a lot of things in this life that require you to fake it ‘til you make it. Walk with purpose. Head over to those weights and act as if you belong there, even if you feel nervous and insecure.