Ask any woman, and she’ll tell you — there are a lot of dumb ideas out there about what women should or should not do. It can sometimes feel like everyone’s got an opinion to share — especially when it comes to the things that seem like no one’s business but our own, like what we do with our bodies. Whether it’s how we look, how we move, what we eat, or where we go, someone always has something to say about our bodies. And this is particularly true at the gym.
If you’re a woman who works out frequently, you’ve probably checked out weightlifting. But if you’re anything like over 90% of women who work out, you might never have waded into the weight room, or even considered integrating lifting into your fitness regimen.
Women are often discouraged from trying out lifting for pretty much the same reasons that we’re discouraged from trying out anything else. Someone, somewhere, once decided that strength wasn’t pretty, that women shouldn’t be tough, and that our bodies just aren’t suited for strength training. That’s why so many women report feeling uncomfortable, intimidated, or unwelcome in the weight room — and end up missing out on an important part of a balanced workout.
Let’s debunk those old-fashioned myths. Our bodies are for us — we deserve to experiment, exercise, and excel in any field we want. If you’re itching to give weightlifting a spin, look no further. These 6 fitness tips are just the thing you need to get off to a strong start.
1. If you’re looking to bulk up, that needs to be reflected in your diet, too. Building muscle starts with amping up your intake of proteins, and structuring your carbohydrate intake. You want to time it so that you get a hit of carbs at the beginning of the day and right after a workout. It’ll ease muscle recovery, and give you more energy to make it through the day.
2. Do compound muscle movements. The goal is to utilize different groups of muscles at once, so that muscle recovery includes more building and more growing. One easy way to make it happen is by integrating light weights into your regular exercise regimen — squats, deadlifts, and lunges can all be done with weights, and that’ll get your body used to exercising these muscles in tandem.
3. Speed up your muscle growth by steadily increasing speed during reps. Provided you fuel yourself with plenty of protein and healthy carbohydrates, that’ll increase the need for quick muscle recovery, and that’s where the bulking happens. Make sure your form is consistent, and always consult a trainer if you’re worried about putting too much stress on your body.
4. Train with a buddy. It’s surprisingly easy to get more comfortable in unfamiliar territory if you’re not going it alone. Try to do some research and reading between yourselves before coming in, and be ready to back each other up if trainers aren’t being helpful or taking you seriously. More importantly, training together means you can spot each other and support each other’s progress — both literally and figuratively.
5. Don’t be afraid of the big weights. It can be intimidating, but the fact is there’s no way to get larger muscles without lifting larger weights. If you want to build up your lifting capacity, start low and increase weight quickly. Some guys at the gym might want to discourage you, but you’ll never get a chance to wow yourself if you’re not also willing to challenge yourself. Remember, no one knows your body as well as you do; you’ll know when it’s too much weight for you to comfortably handle. Trust your instincts and you’ll be fine.
6. Prioritize proper form. The heaviest weights, the brightest attitude, and the best facilities won’t mean anything without the accompanying form to tie them all together. Look into weightlifting exercises and follow the instructions. You can practice at home (with or without weights) to get comfortable with the movements.