A call to action

Ladies, I mean this in the kindest way possible–stop being so wimpy! I’ve had it. I’m fed up. I’ve seen one too many seemingly healthy, capable woman lifting baby weights at the gym and expecting to see results. At least I imagine they expect results. Why else would they be doing it? It’s certainly not to look tough. No, they look downright bored–not even bothering to pretend it’s challenging to curl a three-pound weight. Why bother to pretend when we all know my five-year-old could curl three pounds.

Haven’t we come farther than this?

Photo: aweseomehq.com

Now before you get your leg-warmers in a bunch, understand I am not talking about those of you who are injured, recovering from an injury, or otherwise restricted in any way. There are a lot of legitimate reasons to be lifting light weight, and if you are affected by one of those reasons, you should just keep doing what you are supposed to be doing. I’m talking about the 30-something woman who chugs away on the treadmill for an hour, and then pops over in front of the mirror to do her cursory weight training workout–the aforementioned bicep curls, followed by the inner and outer thigh machines–you know, to get rid of “this stuff right here.”

You can do better.

I know, I know. You’re intimidated. You don’t know what to do. The big weights hurt your hands and give you calluses. You don’t want to get bulky. I’ve heard them all. But if you don’t get past the excuses, you are only cheating yourself.

Let’s knock those excuses out one by one:

You’re intimidated

I can understand this one. Anything unfamiliar can be scary. And add in a bunch of crazy looking machines or heavy weights (not to mention some jacked up dudes grunting and throwing weights around) and it can feel like a no-woman zone. I’ve heard this from a lot of women: “that’s the guy area,” they say. Only until you walk over there and show ’em how it’s done.

If intimidation is your roadblock, the best thing to do is get the help of a trainer or more knowledgeable workout buddy. Most gyms offer introductory sessions, and any gym will be happy to sell you training sessions on top of that. Use the free session to your advantage. If you already know how to use the machines, see if the trainer will show you a few free-weight exercises to swap out with the machines. For example, exchange the shoulder press machine with a shoulder press using free weights. Most trainers who are doing orientations are so glad to break out of the machine routine, they’ll be excited to introduce you to something new. A word of warning: try not to take advantage of the trainer by turning the orientation into a free personal training session. While we want to educate you and answer your questions, we’ve worked hard to gain our knowledge, and if you want a personalized program, you’ll have to pay a little extra for that expertise.

Which brings me to your other option: buy some training sessions. I know it’s not cheap, but really, it shouldn’t be. There is a HUGE range of “acceptable” qualifications for trainers, and the good ones are worth the extra money. Plus, you don’t have to do endless sessions to see progress. Three sessions is enough to set up a program and run you through it a few times, tweaking what doesn’t work, and making sure you understand the basics. You can always purchase follow-up sessions down the line, to refresh your program or learn a new skill.

The weights hurt your hands

Yes, I have actually heard this excuse, and on more than one occasion. This is just a big ‘ol fat dud of a roadblock. Buy some weight lifting gloves; problem solved. Or, just get some calluses. They make you look tough.

You don’t want to get bulky

Photo: t-nation.com

Not gonna happen. Do you know how hard a woman has to work to get to this place? How stringent her diet and exercise regimen must be? What unnatural things she must do to her body? This kind of physique doesn’t just happen because of a little weight training. It doesn’t even happen from lifting heavy weights. So go crazy, pick up those 15 pounders, and rest assured that you will not end up like this.

What you will get by trading up is fitter, quicker. By using heavier weights, weights that actually challenge you, the muscle adapts and becomes stronger over time. You want more muscle tissue because muscle is metabolically more active than fat. In other words, if you weigh 150 lbs with 20 percent body fat, your body can take in more calories and still maintain its current weight, than if you weigh 150 lbs. with 30 percent body fat. If you are trying to lose weight, adding muscle through strength training will speed that process up. And the older you get, the more muscle mass you lose (remember that whole muscle uses more calories than fat thing? That’s where age-related weight-gain comes in), so you might as well start slowing that process down now before it gets even harder. It’s never too late to get stronger; an 80-year-old can gain muscle in the same way a 30-year-old can.

In addition to the weight loss/management benefits, you’ll be guarding against future osteoporosis, and strengthening muscles you need to accomplish activities of daily living. Plus, you’ll look better, walk taller and move easier. And when the kid at the pet store says, “do you need help carrying that bag of dog food out to your car ma’am” (ma’am??!!), you can say “no thanks, I can handle it.”

Go ahead, admit it. Are you guilty of wimpy weight syndrome? Are you worried you’ll rough up your hands if you use the big daddies? It’s ok, like Oprah says, “when you know better, you do better.”


3 thoughts on “A call to action

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