Why Women Should Strength Train!

Why Women Should Strength Train!

I’ve always been a relatively active person. I danced (ballet and modern) from 8 to 20, starting practicing yoga in 2006 (starting teaching yoga in 2014) and generally enjoy running around and climbing trees and jumping off rocks. I am not someone who grew up in a gym. In fact, I didn’t go into a ‘regular’ gym until I was 25 or so.

I first started strength training when I was working at a little boutique gym downtown. They had Yoga and Indoor Cycling classes and soon introduced Kettlebell and Bootcamp classes into the mix. This was my first experience with swinging a kettlebell and trying stuff like flipping tires and doing pullups. My time there was an amazing opportunity to see what my body could do in a way that I hadn’t experienced through yoga or dance.

A couple years later I started working at Evolution Fitness. I kept working with kettlebells, earned my StrongFirst cert, and started learning more about Powerlifting. Both Kettlebells and Powerlifting have changed me inside and out. Moving heavy (for me) weights makes me feel like nothing else. I’m not going to be setting any Powerlifting records (at least not anytime soon) but the work of training 3-4 times a week, through days that feel awesome and days that feel shitty has made me much more disciplined and confident and capable. This physical and mental strength transfers over to everything else I do. My yoga practice has changed dramatically from my increased body awareness and strength thanks to my work in the gym. Strength training connected so many dots for me and has helped me to move better with less imbalances and without low back pain. When I want to go rock climbing one weekend or help my friend move or try something I’ve never done before, I can do these things without a second thought.

Now I teach strength training in class and to personal training clients and I can see firsthand the difference it makes for many women of all ages and backgrounds

Why should Women Pursue Strength Training?

I know, I know, I know, it’s good for me. You have probably heard that strength training is good for women and can help prevent osteoporosis and do other good stuff for us, which is cool. However, I need more than just knowing something is good or healthy for me to incorporate it into my life. If all you need to know is that strength training is good for you, then awesome, you’re probably already doing it. But the benefits of strength training go way beyond simply being ‘good for us.’

Muscles Look Good

I know some women that workout because they want to look good and that’s totally cool. If that’s your thing, strength training is the answer for a lot of women who want to look better (whatever ‘better’ means for them in particular).  Lifting weights helps your body build lean muscle and lose fat in a way that just doing cardio won’t. That being said, I really believe in strength training but I also believe in doing what you love. If you love running, you shouldn’t give that up! However, if you’re killing yourself on the elliptical or treadmill and hating it, come on over to the other side of the gym, you know, the one with all the squat racks and dumbbells; we have food and other good stuff.

I know a big reason that some women don’t want to lift weights heavier than 5 lbs is fear of getting too muscular and bulky or (gasp) “masculine” looking. I could write a whole separate post on that but I’ll keep it short for now. If you want to get super buff and jacked, awesome! It’s going to take a lot of really hard work both in the gym and nutrition-wise. If you DON’T want to get super buff and jacked, that’s cool too, and you probably won’t. For the vast majority of women, looking like a body builder is a lot of really hard work and you definitely won’t be able to do it by accident. Try lifting heavy and see the awesome things it can do for your body! That being said, we are all entitled to our own opinion and the pursuit of looking however we want to look but luckily, constantly trying to lose weight and be skinnier doesn’t have to be the only option for a fitness goal. Don’t get me wrong, I spent many years being way too invested in being skinny even though I was already a healthy weight. Strength training has given me a whole new appreciation for what my body can do, not just how it looks. Since I’ve gotten more seriously into strength training I have a whole new appreciation for muscles on women. These muscles look like hours of hard work and the ability to do badass and powerful things.

 

If you want to look this great! If you absolutely don't want to look like this great. It won't happen by accident.

If you want to look this great! If you absolutely don’t want to look like this great. It won’t happen by accident.

Setting (and Hitting) Goals is Awesome

If your goal is simply to look good that’s cool, but strength training can add a whole new dimension to physical fitness goals. When my focus changed to the awesome things my body can do rather than only caring about how I look, my whole mindset shifted. Where ever you are starting from, the goal of getting stronger is very rewarding. Whether you want to do a body weight pushup or pullup or deadlift 300 pounds, positive strength goals give going to the gym a purpose and can make you feel awesome when you hit or surpass them.  That feeling of pushing myself to do something that is super challenging for me is priceless.

Granted, I needed some instruction before I was ready to start working toward a heavy deadlift (and I’m still working toward that 300). Finding a coach that knows their stuff is important. Most women that I know (myself included) didn’t get exposure to the gym at the young age like some guys do, so it’s no wonder we don’t know our way around a weight rack. Finding a good coach will help make you more comfortable in any gym you go to. When I started out I was pretty flexible (but with a lot of imbalances) from yoga and dance and needed a lot of work to get my muscles to engage in a way that could support weight during a squat or a deadlift. It’s important not to just jump into lifting heavy. At Evolution (and other places that know their stuff) we talk about building healthy movement first before adding weight.

Watching Other Women Get Strong

A huge part of why I love my job is seeing the difference that strength training makes for all different types of women. We have clients come in with little to no knowledge of strength training and get to watch their transformation as they feel and see the difference their hard work makes. Strength training is not the easy quick fix. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve looked for the quick fix too, I get it. However, this work is about the process of feeling your body change and get stronger and feel different (and better). I often hear comments from clients about how their back pain has gone away or they moved their couch by themselves or they can see that their posture is better or that they don’t get headaches anymore, all from learning to move better and getting stronger. Some clients will train with us and although the number on the scale might not change, the way they look and feel changes (muscle being denser than fat and all that cool stuff). I love seeing women embrace their strength and do things that they might have never considered before stepping into the gym.

A huge part of why I love my job is seeing the difference that strength training makes for all different types of women. We have clients come in with little to no knowledge of strength training and get to watch their transformation as they feel and see the difference their hard work makes. Strength training is not the easy quick fix. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve looked for the quick fix too, I get it. However, this work is about the process of feeling your body change and get stronger and feel different (and better). I often hear comments from clients about how their back pain has gone away or they moved their couch by themselves or they can see that their posture is better or that they don’t get headaches anymore, all from learning to move better and getting stronger. Some clients will train with us and although the number on the scale might not change, the way they look and feel changes (muscle being denser than fat and all that cool stuff). I love seeing women embrace their strength and do things that they might have never considered before stepping into the gym.

Empty attachment or post type not equal ‘attachment’

TRY IT!

Strength training will help you create a strong and capable body that does what you need it to. When I can lift heavy weight or do body weight exercises like pullups I feel f*%king badass. Strength training can give you very tangible proof of getting better at something when you see the weights go up or do something easily that used to be incredibly hard. And that’s an awesome feeling. When I’m strong, that confidence in my body and my abilities translates over to other areas of my life and makes me better at pretty much everything I do.  Again, what heavy means is going to be different for everyone. My goals will be different than your goals and that’s great. There is no one-size-fits-all.

You might resonate with Kettlebells or want to compete in a Powerlifting meet or do really cool body-weight tricks or any of the other options out there. Maybe you just want to feel better and move better. All of these are valid. Don’t worry about falling into a particular mold. Find something you like doing so that you can enjoy your journey. This doesn’t mean that every training session is going to feel amazing but when I do something that used to feel impossible, it’s all worth it. And when I see other women put in the work and feel powerful or even just a little bit more confident, I get inspired all over again.

I want to hear from you; if you’re already on this path, why did you start strength training?

If you’ve been on your strength journey for a while, why do you do it? What does it do for you?

If you’re just starting, why did you start? What things are changing for you?

No Comments

Post A Comment