My Personal Experience with women lifting heavy weights
My first few months as a trainer were the definition of “trial by fire”, minus the actual fire. Around the New Year, there were 100+ consultations sold and nobody to render them.
This, of course, is where I came in. As the new trainer with a schedule to fill up, I would have anywhere between 5-8, 75-minute consultations on a daily basis. It was nearly impossible to remember everyone’s names, but what I do recall are the common phrases I heard from members when it came to discussing goals. Most guys wanted to get bigger, stronger, or simply better at a certain lift. Women were a bit trickier.
I heard the phrase “tone up” more often than my own name it seemed, and I had no idea how to translate this phrase into an actual plan for the client; Many also would throw another wrench in my mental gears by saying that they wanted to get more aesthetic, but didn’t want to get too “bulky”.
It took a while, but after some quality education and plenty of practical experience, I was able to decipher a client’s goals from this obscure language.
The Truth About Lifting Weights
Many of the female clientele had these misconceptions about lifting weights and what it would do to their bodies. And to be clear, I would never discredit the language that my clients use. My job is to understand the image in their mind that is driving their choice of words. This is easier said than done, especially when you have to explain that what they have expressed hesitancy toward is what will get them to their goal. It can be intimidating at first, but that’s why discussing these misconceptions in detail is important for understanding why lifting weights won’t make women ‘bulky’, if that isn’t the intended goal.
First and foremost, I think it is important to talk about nutrition when discussing this topic. Why? Well, unless you are some sort of genetic specimen, you probably aren’t going to start gaining a ton of weight or a crazy amount of muscle mass overnight. And if you did want to start gaining that much, you would have to be eating tons of food and be lifting at least 3-5 days a week. Long story short, you can lift weights and not become a mini-Arnold. Make the calories match your goals. After all, exercise is pretty much goal-oriented energy/calorie expenditure at the end of the day.
That last section is a great segway into my next point: I can say with confidence that 100% of the women I know with the best physiques lift heavy weights, and some are even competitive powerlifters where the goal is to lift the heaviest weight your body possibly can.
A great example would be Ben Bruno’s clientele. Look him up on Instagram if you’re interested. You’ll see the likes of celebrities such as Chelsea Handler, Jessica Biel, Kate Upton, among others all lifting heavy weight and getting into the best shape of their lives. Chelsea even had an Instagram post about how she was really hesitant at first, but realized over her time with Ben how wrong she was.
Take-homes and Tips
The most important thing here is simply getting the right information before starting a workout routine. Especially since these stereotypes about lifting weights only exist because of misinformation being passed along via the internet, friends, or other forms of communication. Combine this with the unease of not knowing how to lift weights, being afraid of hurting yourself, and having to do it in front of other people who all seem to know what they’re doing, and you have a recipe for a last-second cardio session instead of the squat rack.
With quality information comes a greater level of comfort and confidence for anyone, especially for women potentially learning to lift among a sea of dudes in sleeveless tee-shirts at a local gym.
In the spirit of smashing stereotypes and building strong, confident women in the gym. Here are a few tips that I can offer up:
1. When learning how to lift, build some confidence on machines if they’re available. Machines are designed to put you in the right position to work the right muscles and don’t require much skill. After building some confidence, progress to dumbbell movements that require more of a learning curve. After building some confidence, progress to dumbbell movements that require more of a learning curve.
2. Absolutely ask for advice. Especially from other females who seem more experienced. Most gyms that offer training also offer free or cheap consultations where you can simply ask to learn some basics. If you have the money and time, of course, learn from a good trainer. If you’re more reserved or not in the financial position for training, the internet can be your best friend. Find quality sources of information and learn what you can from free sources. There’s no lack of it out there if you know where to find it. Shoot me an email at [email protected] if you want recommendations.
3. From my experience in a commercial gym. I can absolutely say that it may seem like everyone else knows what they are doing. In reality, at LEAST 50% of the people in the gym at any time are just like you, ready to dip their toes into training but unsure how to do it.
To wrap things up
I think it should be clear now that simply lifting weights won’t make anyone into the Hulk overnight. You would have to be eating a crazy amount of calories and lifting frequently to get anywhere near that. And if you did get there, it would only be after many years of progressively overloading your system. Building strength through weight training will not only be able to increase your lean mass and burn fat, but also likely help you feel better overall. Of course, exercise isn’t just about the aesthetics (although this is one of the most desired parts overall).
I would love to see more females increase their confidence and step into the weight room. They would get the results they may have been missing out on prior. With that said, we’re always here to help anyone take their first steps in a new direction, so don’t hesitate to reach out and ask for help!