The weight section was usually reserved for the muscly sweaty fellas, but times are a-changing.
There is a common misconception that women will become 'bulky' or 'manly-looking' if they start lifting weights; however, I am here to tell you that is not the case. Introducing strength training into your life can be daunting. More often than not, the heavyweight sections and squat racks are full of men, while women opt for the treadmill or elliptical machines. Believe me, it can be intimidating as fuck taking the plunge to march over to the weight's section, but it is so worth it.
I always toyed with the idea of learning how to squat, deadlift and all that good stuff, but fear of embarrassing myself held me back for ages. Until one day, I put my big girl pants on and enlisted the help of a trainer to teach me the basics of strength training. That was about four years ago, and I haven't looked back! If you too are toying with the idea of venturing into the 'scary' section of the gym, here are some reasons why it's not-so-scary.
You will gain confidence
Lifting something equivalent to your body weight or heavier can-do wonders for your confidence. After a weightlifting sesh, you can't help but feel pretty badass. I honestly feel like I can accomplish anything life throws at me when I am regularly training. I feel strong and healthy and ready to take on the world.
You forget about the scales
Before I started strength training, I was fixated on losing x amount of weight and judging my progress on the number on the scales. Strength training focuses more on your performance and form. You tone up as a by-product of weight training, but it isn't the primary goal. You aspire to be stronger and healthier and don't judge your performance on what you weigh on the scales. More often than not, you may gain more weight on the scales as you gain lean muscle, but your body composition will become leaner.
A more effective way of training
Spending hours on the treadmill or bike isn't the route to take if you want to enhance muscle growth and strength. By incorporating compound exercises into your gym routine, you will be working out much more efficiently. Compound exercises work multiple muscle groups and include squats, deadlifts, hip thrusts, shoulder presses, back rows and bench presses. These exercises are highly efficient and functional. They strengthen the body in ways it moves naturally every day. Weight training is also far more efficient in working towards 'toning up'. When you lift heavy weights, you burn fat during and after exercise, as a result of Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption or EPOC. Strength training also helps to create and sustain muscle. Unlike endurance exercise which may help you lose weight, but you can lose muscle mass and your shapely curves.
Improve your mental health
There is something about strength training that makes you forget about everything else going on in your life. When I do a gym session, I totally zone out and am entirely focused on the deadlift I'm attempting, or the shoulder press I'm pushing. It's one of the only places I can be fully mindful and present and focused on the task at hand. It's done absolute wonders for my mental health, and a sweaty weight session will always leave me feeling better after a shit day.
If you are thinking about incorporating weightlifting and strength training into your workout, be sure to work with a Fitness Professional. A personal trainer will ensure that you are performing lifts correctly and using proper form and can advise you on the most efficient way to train.