The other day I was talking with a young woman who hesitantly asked for my assistance to start resistance training. “My partner thinks it would be good for me, but I’m afraid it will make me bulky.” She continued to voice other misconceptions which many women have mistakenly adopted as legitimate concerns. She was afraid of appearing manly, pushing her body too hard and getting injured. Resistance training as a discipline has largely been reserved for men in our culture. For the sake of women’s health it is crucial that this cultural stigma is corrected. While resistance training is beneficial for all individuals, it is especially beneficial for women in its potential to increase bone strength as women are more susceptible to bone diseases like osteoporosis than men. Female athletes can even improve athletic fitness through resistance training at a more effective level than male athletes. Other benefits include an increased metabolic rate, a decrease in total body fat, and decreased risk of injury and disease. I personally have benefited extensively from resistance training. Once a cardio-addicted slim little girl, I picked up a set of weights and never looked back. I noticed significant improvement to my posture, an overall increase in lean mass and muscle tone and improved mental health. The psychological benefits of resistance training are well documented in that lifting weights is associated with increased feelings of vigor, physical self-concept, self-esteem, and self-efficacy, as well as decreased total mood disturbance. Another significant barrier that keeps women from engaging in resistance training is that many simply do not know where to start. Women don’t want to appear uncomfortable and sweaty, may find an athletic physique undesirable, or are afraid of appearing unknowledgeable and uncoordinated which can make them feel intimidated when going to pick up a set of dumbbells. These fears can result in improper training regiments, such as an overemphasis on cardio machines which detract from the more profitable health and body appearance goals that are attained more effectively by resistance training. My hope is to encourage my female readers to put aside the fears and the stigma attached to resistance training and begin your journey as a weight training enthusiast. My journey began when my training focus was exclusively running long distance until the day I was called weak and dainty. This was enough encouragement to overcome my fears regarding resistance training and set me on a course where I now enjoy all the benefits I was missing out on before. You won’t find me missing a training session, and I sure wouldn’t want to miss out on the benefits of resistance training which others too have found invaluable. As women, let’s not adhere to the cultural stigma that separates females and resistance training but strive to create a new and healthy ideology where woman is synonymous with strong.
Hurley, K. S., Flippin, K. J., Blom, L. C., Bolin, J. E., Hoover, D. L., & Judge, L. W. (2018). Practices, perceived benefits, and barriers to resistance training among women enrolled in college. International journal of exercise science, 11(5), 226.
Kelley, G. A., Kelley, K. S., & Tran, Z. V. (2001). Resistance training and bone mineral density in women: a meta-analysis of controlled trials.
Mulcahey, M. (2021). BLOG: Benefits of strength and conditioning programs for adolescent female athletes. Retrieved 19 January 2021, from https://www.healio.com/news/orthopedics/20210111/blog-benefits-of-strength-and-conditioning-programs-for-adolescent-female-athletes
Winett, R. A., & Carpinelli, R. N. (2001). Potential health-related benefits of resistance training. Preventive medicine, 33(5), 503-513.