Laura, one of our Fitness Instructors at Sir Tom Finney Sports Centre (STFSC), has kindly submitted a guest article to the UCLanSport blog:
I have been here for over 12 months now and have done numerous amounts of inductions, fitness assessments, programmes and personal training sessions.
I have done programs for males and females in my time at STFSC, but the main issue I've come across and would like to address is the misunderstanding about women and Weight Training.
MYTH: 'Lifting weights makes you bulky and masculine'
This could not be further than the truth. Lifting weights can benefit both men and women, and by including strength training into your workout and pushing yourself that little bit further, it is the only way you will see results and get stronger. I think one of the key points is that muscle actually takes up less space than fat, so if your aim is to lose fat, then building muscle will lead to you looking leaner and more defined.
A further important factor as to why lifting weights will not make females bulky or masculine is down to the hormone called testosterone. The hormone in men can be responsible for the increase in muscle size due to weight training. Men can produce up to 20 times more testosterone daily compared to women. Take a look!
Men: 300-1200 ng/dL
Women: 30-95 ng/dL
ng/dL = nanograms per deciliter
With the above ranges you can see the difference between the production of testosterone in men and women. Men have a significantly higher amount of testosterone compared to women. Therefore, it is clear by these figures that women do not have the hormonal support to gain excessive amounts of muscle. It is not completely ruling out the possibility of you building some muscle, you just won’t build muscle like a man. It will result in a more toned figure.
WEIGHT TRAINING for WOMEN
The stereotypical workout for a woman includes a lot of cardio, followed by picking up a light dumbbell and doing numerous amounts of repetitions. While doing an endless amount of repetitions has its benefits, lifting heavy and challenging weights is going to benefit you more, especially if your aims include weight loss, strength and an improvement of your body shape.
Obviously, I am not suggesting that you all go and pick up the heaviest dumbbell in the gym and try and curl or bench press it, strength gains will take time. However, if you stick at it, you will feel and see the benefits more than doing an endless amount of repetitions with the lightest weight in STFSC (1kg).
If you are a complete beginner then don’t be afraid to start off with the fixed weights machines, they will help you gain a little bit more confidence in weight training, as well as an idea of your strength. However, you are going to improve eventually and will need to challenge your body that little bit more and there is nothing better than free-weights and compound exercises. Yes ladies, this means that you may have to enter the dreaded and masculine free-weights area in the Fitness Suite at STFSC.
But do not worry, we are here to help, guide you through, and eventually change the balance into our favour ladies! Therefore, here are some challenging compound exercises to help you get that shape you have been aiming towards.
Deadlifts are full body workouts and target the legs, back, abs, traps etc. So you can see that this exercise is going to target those areas that women want to tone and shape up.
If you want legs like a Hollywood film star then including Squats into your workouts is going to help you achieve them. Squats target the whole of the upper legs, quads, hamstrings, glutes. They are one of the best exercises for overall leg development.
Lunges are good for again targeting those hard areas us females like to tighten up, glutes, quads, hamstrings.
Press-ups are great for improving your upper body strength; you don’t even need to include a weight. Press-ups target the chest, triceps and shoulders, giving us ladies that nice toned upper body.
Overall, we have discussed why weight training will not cause you to become bulky and masculine, and how it will instead improve body shape, assist with fat loss and improve strength. I do realise we haven’t discussed any specific training methods, but at STFSC we are available to help you find what training methods are suitable for you. All you have to do is ask!