If you’re undecided about whether or not to start lifting weights then have a read through this list. It aims to give advice about weight training for women and dispel some myths along the way.
Establish your goal(s)
Do you want to lose body fat? Do you want to build muscle? Do you want to train for strength? These are important things to decide upon before you begin this process, as your diet will also play an important part in your training. And by diet I mean your daily caloric intake and how it’s split between carbohydrates, proteins, and fats (also called macronutrients).
A very simplified formula for each of the above goals are:
Building muscle/strength (also known as ‘bulking’) = lift heavy weights while eating in a calorie surplus.
Losing fat (also known as ‘cutting’) = lift heavy weights while eating in a calorie deficit.
You’ll find excellent information about daily caloric intake and macronutrients here .
Find like-minded people
I train at home so meeting such people is a bit difficult! When I first got into lifting weights I signed up to www.bodybuilding.com. I’ve found the support from people on their forums to be invaluable. Not only are the forums useful, their website has loads of articles relating to weight training for women, videos on how to execute exercises properly, and an online store where you can purchase supplements and equipment. Just to be open and transparent I am an affiliate for Bodybuilding.com, so if you click on any of their links on my site and go on to purchase any products from their store then I will receive a commission for those purchases. I’m proud to be affiliated with Bodybuilding.com as their site continues to be such a great resource for me.
Also, look on Youtube. There are so many vloggers out there – including me 😉 – who produce great videos on different aspects of lifting including how to do the lifts, dialing in your nutrition, and motivation.
If you go to a gym, then try to strike up a conversation with people and ask about their training. Don’t be afraid to say you’re new to lifting because we’ve all been there at some point! Perhaps you could train together with someone or they’d be happy to give you some tips.
There might be a personal trainer at the gym who can help you train for your goals. Just make sure that they know their stuff. There are plenty of personal trainers our there peddling the same BS that we see in the media about women and weights.
Lifting heavy weights will not make you bulky. I have fallen for this as well in the past and have read countless articles on weight training for women which encourage women to lift light weights for high reps because it ‘elongates the muscles’ or some other such nonsense. I mean, what?!
It’s not physiologically possible for women to get as muscly as men, because we have much lower levels of testosterone in our bodies. For women who build muscle naturally (i.e. don’t use steroids), it can take years to build a good foundation of muscle and even then you’re not going to get anywhere near as muscly as a man who trains for the same amount of time.
Whether your goal is to change the way your body looks or to build strength, then this process takes time. There is no quick fix despite what the adverts tell us.
Lastly, remember that ‘heavy’ is relative to the person. A 140lb squat might be heavy for you but easy for someone else. That doesn’t mean you aren’t good enough; we all have to start somewhere.
So, don’t worry about what other people are lifting, which brings me to…
Don’t compare yourself
There are plenty of people out there lifting heavier than you, or who look leaner/more muscly than you. They did not start out like that; they have had to work hard for it.
I look at women who lift heavy and they inspire me to keep pushing so that I can, one day, reach where they are. Yes, there are times when I find myself wishing that I could lift as much as others, but I know that I will get there if I keep going. It just takes time, hard work, and perseverance.
Comparing yourself to others is futile because it only serves to de-motivate you. You are where you are, and if you work hard and stay consistent then you are more likely to reach your goals.
Keep a journal
I keep a journal on bodybuilding.com and I also have various social media accounts where I post about my progress. However, the journal on bb.com is where I document how well I think my training is going, comment on my form, and it’s also a place where other posters give me feedback and encouragement.
You don’t have to keep an online journal, you can write in a notepad if you like. Whatever way you choose to do it, keeping a track of your lifts week-in week-out is an important part of charting your progress. It’s hard to look back at how far you’ve come if you have no record of where you started!
Keeping a note of what you have lifted the previous week, and how it felt, also helps you to gauge what you should lift next time. A journal is essential to your progress.
Like a journal, taking photos throughout the process is a good way to track how you’re getting on. A lot of people may ‘feel’ that they haven’t lost any body fat or may not think they are building muscle, but these are all subjective feelings which can deceive us!
Photographs are an objective way of documenting the changes in your body, and can help to motivate you through the process. I tried to take photos once a month to see how I was getting on. If you take them too regularly you may not see much progress which could be disheartening.
Check out the photos below. I finished my first cut and then went into a nine month bulk. Do I look bulky or manly? No! Do I have better posture, a perkier butt, and look stronger? Yes!!
Do your research!
I know there are lots of links in this post and lots of reading to do, but believe me the reading and research will pay dividends. Respect the people who have put the time and effort in to write this information and do your homework before asking questions which may have been asked millions of times before.
That being said, if you do have any questions then please comment below or contact me as I’ll be happy to answer any queries. Good luck! 😀