Nia Shanks: Why Women Should Lift Heavy Weights
I know what’s on your mind, so I’ll get this out of the way right now: lifting heavy weights will not make you big ‘n bulky.
That’s a picture of me deadlifting 330 pounds, and I’m not classified as “big ‘n bulky”. All of my female clients participate in weight lifting, and many of them squat over 1.5 times their bodyweight, can perform sets of chin-ups and parallel bar dips, and other awesome feats of physical strength.
Even though they were skeptical when they first started lifting weights, not a single lady ever said she got big.
If heavy, progressive strength training made women muscle-bound-beasts, I would’ve been out of a job 10 years ago.
Now that we’ve properly dispelled that myth, let’s move on.
Why YOU Should Try Lifting (Heavy) Weights
First, let’s define “lift heavy weights”. In my opinion, that means using primarily compound exercises and performing sets between five and 10 reps with a challenging weight. For example, performing 10 reps with a weight you could easily perform 15-20 reps with is not challenging and, therefore, doesn’t qualify.
Here are some favorite exercises for beginner trainees:
An excellent workout would consist of performing each of the exercises above for about four sets each for five to eight reps per exercise (4x5-8).
If regular push-ups are too easy and you can perform sets of 10+ reps, then make them more challenging by doing more advanced variations or loading them via resistance bands, weight plates, weight vest, or chains. Remember, each exercise must be challenging.
Some favorite accessory exercises to include are standing overhead presses, chin-ups, and bodyweight glute bridges or hip thrusts to round out and balance the training program.
I’ve provided a detailed workout program for beginners on my website, so we’re going to keep things simple and to the point.
Let’s get into the four reasons you should lift heavy.
Lifting heavy can be fun and addictive (in a good way, of course). This one is best understood through personal experience. It’s true though. You can actually have fun while working out, and it can become very addictive. Reason being – when you achieve physical feats you didn’t know you were capable of, you get addicted and want to see what else you can do. You have fun because you beat personal records, and you get stronger week after week.
It will increase your self-confidence. No one’s self-confidence ever increased from curling a soup can, even a family size soup can. Once you start lifting heavier weights, getting stronger, and seeing what you’re physically capable of achieving, your self-confidence will most certainly increase. Again, don’t take my word for it – get in there and lift!
Results in less time. I would estimate that the average female trainee spends a minimum of 60 minutes in the gym each session. For one, most believe the myth that “you have to workout for at least 60 minutes, or it’s not even worth it.” This is completely false.
Truth is, if you lift heavy weights, you can complete a results-producing workout in as little as 30 minutes. In fact, my clients and I rarely spend more than 40 minutes on a workout. Heavy, progressive weight lifting will help you build a better body in much less time. Don’t underestimate the power of three total body workouts per week, each taking about 40 minutes.
It’s safe. “But, lifting heavy is dangerous!” This is a common remark when women are told to lift heavy. After all, we’ve all seen the YouTube videos of weight lifters getting crushed by a heavy bench press, or someone blowing out their back from a heavy deadlift.
As long as you use perfect form at all times and stay away from failure, your chance of getting injured is low. You can even make the argument that lifting heavier weights for lower reps is safer than high reps. For one, it’s much easier to maintain focus with lower rep sets. This way, you are paying complete attention to every single rep and you don’t risk pumping out sloppy reps just to get the set completed.
Those are just four of many more reasons why women should lift heavy. And now that you’re armed with the necessary information, it’s up to you to take action.
Now go throw some weight on the bar and get strong!
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