I took up lifting weights properly in around 2016, we found a squat rack, weights and an olympic barbell on one of the social media selling sites that was a bargain. My husband went to pick it up whilst I looked after the kids one evening. I was so excited, I’d read heaps of weight-lifting articles and had already chosen a program to follow. So this was the start of my weight lifting adventure!
Before that I had dabbled abit with the free weights but deadlifts, back squats and bench presses were a new thing for me. As I was indoor rowing I wanted to compliment this with some strength training, originally I had been interested in crossfit but I feared getting injured performing the workouts especially the upper body as I would have had to stop rowing so sorted out my priorities and decided on a few weight lifting moves would be much more beneficial to me.
I didn’t really fear what most women do about getting too muscly and manly as when I see a woman who is fit, lean and toned I admire her as I know how much work goes into getting like that. I also knew that without using supplements such as creatine its near-on impossible for a lady to get huge as we don’t have enough of the male hormone testosterone in our bodies. So I sorted my plan, realised I needed to eat more protein and started lifting.
After 6 months I felt stronger, I looked leaner and my rowing had improved. I used a program that was based on improving strength and performed deadlifts, bench presses, back/front squats, barbell rows and overhead presses. I used a proper Olympic barbell as these on their own weigh 20kg and weight plates to add when necessary. I celebrated all the gains big or small and progressed really well. There were some weeks where there was no progression but those were in the minority.
Lifting weights is to me as enjoyable as cardio exercise. I find though that many women are scared of the heavy weights and maybe don’t want to appear too masculine when they tell people how they keep fit, so they stick to the smaller free weights and bodyweight sessions. The biggest draw to lifting heavy weights for women should be the amount of calories lean muscle burns during the session and even the next day. They should also think about how their bone density starts lowering as they age, especially after the menopause so performing resistance exercises can increase bone strength this will then decrease the risk of Osteoporosis later in life. It will also make everyday jobs easy especially when they get older, tasks such as lifting shopping bags or even getting up from a sofa will all be a little easier for them.
Obviously there are also some cons relating to weight lifting such as getting injured if your forms isn’t correct, so I suggest to any novice to get some advice from a PT, watch the videos of people performing the lifts and most importantly start off light, use a barbell with no weights this can help you practice form and stop the injuries. If you start off wisely your progress will be quick and you will feel fitter and stronger for longer.