The world of strength training for women has vastly changed since the days of Jane Fonda videos, but many of the old cliches and stereotypes live on.
Will I end up looking like a female bodybuilder?
Will I have to follow a strange diet?
Will I have to train until it hurts?
Will there be any other women there, or am I entering the “men’s zone”?
Now, let’s not be patronising – there are PLENTY of women who couldn’t care less about any of that, and who would relish the chance of flipping the narrative. But not all. And it’s the ones missing out on strength training for women that we’re addressing.
So no, you won’t end up too muscular. Most guys (sorry guys) don’t end up too muscular, despite all the hormones, all the societal set-up, and millions of years of evolution being in their favour. If most men can’t get to the size they want, I assure you no female will get there by accident. You’re not going to wake up “too muscly” one day. It just won’t happen.
And no, there’s no need (unless you want) to follow a boring chicken and rice diet. You don’t need to be eating steak for breakfast. You don’t need to spend hundreds on “female” supplements. Just a normal diet, eating well, minimising foods that don’t really help, and keeping track of your calorie intake is *plenty”.
Good training doesn’t need to be painful. OK, the harder you push yourself, within reason, the better your results are likely to be. But how hard you push is individual. Some people enjoy being out of the comfort zone. Some don’t. Regardless, as long as you’re capable of at least *trying* to work hard, you’ll get results. Most people, men and women, find that once they’ve started training they can push a little harder as their confidence grows.
Strength training for women is SAFER than for men
Proper training should never be about injuries. Sometimes things happen, but it should be rare. As a female, your likelihood of getting injured in weight training – in my experience – is vastly under that of men. You also recover faster, so, if you want to, you can train more frequently than guys.
Isn’t everyone in a weights gym male?
Female strength training is very popular nowadays. Even the Big Gym classes have started turning towards strength-based exercises, even if the weights involved aren’t really enough. But, the important thing is that women are changing their mindset to training in droves – our membership at RWF, despite being a “lifting gym” is 50% female, with well over half of those being in their 30s and 40s.
Why is strength training for women exploding?
So why? Why have women moved away from treadmills and cross-trainers? Why are they throwing bars around?
It’s the benefits. Strength training has real-world applications. Everything is easier when you’re stronger. No-one ever regrets being a bit stronger. Basic, boring stuff like carrying shopping, kids, lugging bags on holiday; it’s all easier when you’re stronger. The self-confidence boost that comes from being able to do things yourself rather than asking for help is huge. Same for guys, but more pronounced in most women who simply aren’t as naturally strong without training.
As you get older, strength training has proven time and time again to reduce the effects of osteoporosis. To reduce joint and back pain. To bring down cholesterol levels. There’s hardly a single health metric that isn’t improved by strength training.
But let’s get to the real reasons, even if it seems narcissistic to admit it: strength training, combined with a decent nutrition plan, makes you look good. It makes clothes fit better, and it makes you look better in less clothes too! While it seems the current media trend is to try to make us ashamed of wanting to look good, the reality is that most people do actually want to look a bit better in the buff.
A little pro-tip: pretty much any female body you’ve looked at and thought “they look great” has been achieved with an element of strength training.
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