Tackling The Misconceptions Of Females Lifting Weights
There are still many misconceptions about females lifting heavy weights in the gym and many women believe that workouts with lots of cardio training are the best way to burn fat. I would like to tell you a little bit about the benefits of weight training and assure you that you will not transform yourself into the female version of Arnold Schwarzenegger!
Never did I think I would be able to say I learnt the basics of the clean and press technique by cleaning and pressing a friend over my head! As a member of the University cheerleading squad I learnt the fundamental elements of lifting, throwing, catching and tumbling – but I am not talking about weights here I am talking about lifting, throwing and catching people!
Yes, pressing one of my friends overhead whilst they complete a ‘back tuck’ from a ‘basket toss’ is what I am talking about! – believe it or not this is most definitely where I built a foundation of full body strength!
I was taught the basics of functional movements; learning to lift with the correct technique that was safe and effective into various stunt formations. But as you can imagine, extending a body above your head and launching it into the air isn’t easy! Cheerleading requires a huge amount of power, strength and skill in order to safely launch, catch and dismount the ‘flyer’ back to the floor!
Cheerleading became a huge part of my life as a coach and member competing on a national scale. In my final year I wrote a qualitative study on cheerleading and the female ‘sport drop-off’. I found that as a sport, it is athletically demanding and offers high intensity workouts that are unique to any other physical activity there is.
One lesson I would like you to take away from this article is that females simply do not have enough testosterone to build huge amounts of muscle, in truth it is very difficult for a female to achieve a more muscular appearance naturally.
The benefits below are simple reasons as to why weight training is so good for you (and not just for men!)
1. Fat burning – Weight training effectively burns energy hours after training and prolonged hours of cardio do not inflict enough stress on the body systems or produce enough lactic acid to lose those unwanted bulges! Weight training promotes energy burn whilst exercising but also hours after training. Alongside the correct nutrition, the body is able to maintain lean muscle mass. Take note: MORE MUSCLE = HIGHER RATE METABOLISM = MORE CALORIES BURNT WHILST AT REST! It’s a ‘win win’ situation!
2. Osteoporosis – This disease is becoming an increasing worry for younger adults due to the sedentary lifestyles of the population. With inactivity, this medical condition causes bones to become brittle and fragile from loss of tissue as a result of hormonal changes. Heavy weight training increases bone density, thus stimulates positive hormonal responses on the body.
3. Daily Life – The more we move the more able we become, i.e your daily tasks, such as carrying your child upstairs or your shopping home from the supermarket. By teaching the body to move and become strong, whether this means the prevention of disease or the promotion of healthier life on a daily basis then more reasons why weight lifting can benefit daily lives.
4. SUPERWOMAN- Ok perhaps not to this extreme but lifting weights can create empowerment, a boost in self confidence, a toned and more sculpted body. My dissertation research emphasised this point, to suggest empowerment for women providing sense of self worth, strength, esteem, power and authority. The power of the mind is limitless and all trainers should embrace this to further understand and develop the lives of females within the gym environment.
Why not give this following high weight workout a go…
-Squat 6×6 reps
-Stiff Legged Deadlifts 6×6 reps
-Leg Extension 4×8-10
-Lying Leg curl 4×8-10
-Split Squats 4×8
-Glute Bridges 4×8-10
Please ensure correct form and technique – i.e knees do not fall inwards and ensure tempo is controlled (during the downward motion in the squat during the downward motion in the squat). Keep core tight throughout to protect the back! Warm up with 50% lighter weight than your working sets (NB: If you are new to weights be sure to get advice off a fitness professional)