If you are a woman who is looking to get in shape and improve your health, weightlifting should be on your radar. Weightlifting has been proven to reduce the risk of osteoporosis and heart disease as well as increase bone density.
But before we go any further, let’s talk about some misconceptions that might have prevented you from exploring this awesome activity!
While some weightlifting advice is the same for everyone, other advice is not. Some training should be different for men and women.
Physiology, anatomy, and hormones can vary between sexes, which means women need training tailored to their needs.
Historically, workout routines for women have focused on using lighter weights and a higher repetition range.
Women who avoid weightlifting feel like the fear of getting bulky or muscular prevents them from lifting heavy weights when in reality, it can forever benefit their entire life.
Rather than worrying about bulking up, we should be more concerned with losing muscle.
As women age, they lose muscle mass at an even faster rate than men.
Less muscle increases the risk of falls as you grow older, which is why weightlifting is so important–training can deter muscles from weakening and help maintain a healthy muscular build.
Women have different hormones than men, which causes them to fluctuate depending on the phase of their menstrual cycle.
The menstrual cycle can be broken down into four parts: the follicular phase, the ovulatory phase, the luteal phase, and menstruation. The first half is known as the follicular phase and lasts for 14 days. Women may experience similar training during this time because of hormonal fluctuations. Training starts on day one of bleeding.
The transition from menstrual to luteal phase is marked by a significant rise in progesterone levels, and this may make it more challenging for women to increase their training intensity.
Women who are experiencing the monthly menstrual cycle should be aware that recovery may be longer, sleep is commonly impacted, and energy levels may be lower overall from ovulation until the end of the luteal phase.
During the luteal phase, depending on how intensely you respond to exercise, you may find it beneficial to cut back on your volume and the number of intense training days.
Although training volume and intensity may need to be reduced in the last two weeks of the cycle, research suggests that muscular training during the first two weeks of the cycle may result in “a larger gain of lean body mass than regular training.”
Women should pay close attention to incorporating muscular training into their program throughout the month and especially during the first two weeks.
You may need to strength train more often or with a higher volume during the first two weeks of your menstrual cycle (e.g., three to four times per week). After the two-week period, you can reduce your training frequency or intensity.
The femur (thigh) bone-in women is typically steeper than it is in men, which means the angle between this bone and the shin on women can sometimes be greater.
Women account for two to six times the number of knee injuries as men because they are using their knees in a manner that is not natural.
Additional Training Differences
If you’re a woman, it’s important for you to focus on stability in the knees and lower back to limit your risk of injury.
A complete strength-training program should include basic functional movements such as squats, deadlifts, horizontal pushes, and pulls.
Depending on your goals, energy levels, and hormonal cycle, aim for two to four days of muscular training per week.
For people training for two days per week, perform full-body workouts that include squats and an upper-body push exercise (such as a bench or overhead press) on one day, and deadlifts with another upper body pulling exercise (such as pull-ups or rows) on the second.
If you train three to four times a week, you’ll likely follow a lower-body and upper-body split.
Alternate between lower-body sessions (like squats and leg extensions) with upper-body days where you focus on pushing and pulling exercises like bench presses or pull-ups.
At the conclusion of each training week, finish with deadlifts and exercises that work your glutes and hamstrings (such as hip or glute thrusts, single-leg deadlifts), an upper-body push in one workout session (such as a barbell military press), followed by an upper-body pull movement (standing cable rows) the next day.
No matter what your training frequency is, make sure you still include core work on a daily basis. Rotations of plank work, heavy carries such as suitcase or farmer’s carry’s, and rotational movements will help to strengthen the midsection.
To maximize strength, aim for five to ten sets per muscle group per week at five reps each (total of twenty-five to fifty total reps). Rest intervals should be at least 1-2 minutes in length between sets in order to optimize recovery time.
The recent trend among women in lifting weights while following a program designed specifically for females has sparked a lot of debate. While there are physiological differences between men and women, your workouts need not radically change.
Instead of changing, pay more attention to how your energy fluctuates throughout the month. It is also essential to strengthen any muscles you know will be at risk for injury. If you are prone to knee injuries, be sure to focus on strengthening your knees with exercises such as squats and lunges.
For lower-body strength training only days, start by doing three sets of five reps in the squat variation you prefer (front or back), followed by two sets of ten reps in a single leg exercise like single-leg deadlifts.
A woman’s guide to weightlifting is not a complete list of what you need for optimal fitness; it just provides the groundwork that every woman should have when starting on her adventure into lifting weights.
1) What is the woman’s perspective on weightlifting?
Weight training for women differs from workouts designed for men. It’s crucial to be aware of differences in muscle structure and function between genders that can affect injury risk, as well as how energy levels fluctuate throughout the month. Women should also focus on strengthening any muscles they know will be at risk for injury.
2) What are the benefits of weightlifting?
Working out with weights will help you build muscle, which in turn can boost your metabolism and alleviate symptoms associated with PMS or perimenopause. You’ll also burn more calories throughout the day than if you were to do cardio only. Weight training is especially important after pregnancy to help you get your pre-baby body back.
Weightlifting is one of the most versatile forms of exercise because it can be used to focus on increasing strength, building muscle mass, improving bone density and promoting weight loss.
Weight training typically involves using weights or resistance machines in a repetitive manner with short bursts of high intensity (weight lifting).
3) What are the challenges of weightlifting?
Weight training is hard work! And if it’s not, you’re probably doing something wrong. You’ll need to put in a lot of time and effort to reap all the benefits from this activity. It can be intimidating for beginners as many gyms have machines that require instruction before use and exercises may feel stiff and rigid.
Many women may feel embarrassed to weight train because they’re worried about getting “big”. In fact, when women start adding weights into their workouts, the opposite tends to happen: you’ll gain muscle! Muscle takes up less space than fat so your clothes will fit better and it’s more difficult for them to see muscular development.
In summary, this woman’s guide to weightlifting provides a woman’s perspective on the benefits and challenges of weight training for women. The article covers: how it differs from workouts for men, common physical differences in muscle structure and function between genders that can influence injury risk, and what type of exercises are best suited to meet a woman.