There was a time when gyms were a testosterone-dominated environment, but in this day and age you’re just as likely to see ladies working up a sweat, ponytails swinging as trainers pound the treadmill. Unfortunately, there is still one area that a lot of female gym users steer clear of and that is the free weights section.

But trust us. Give it a go. We guarantee you’ll be reaping the rewards in no time.

Will I get bulky?

As the popularity of strength training increases amongst women all over the world, this question has answered itself. Males and females are built differently, so women’s bodies don’t react to weight training in the same way as men’s do. Maybe you’ve been put off of strength training after seeing bodybuilding women, but remember, building that physique takes years of constant training and an immensely strict and specific diet. It’s not something that happens as soon as you do a few barbell squats.

Don’t take our word for it though; a quick Google search will give you plenty of evidence that you can achieve a lean body from lifting weights, without taking your physique to the extreme. It’s likely that in the last week you’ve walked past a lady who lifts and not even realised! She may have been the one that made you stop and think ‘I wish I looked like that.’

Well if I won’t bulk up, what does strength training do?

Most people believe that cardiovascular exercise burns fat and weight training is only good for toning and defining. This simply isn’t true.

Let us explain. The rate at which your body burns fat is called your metabolic rate. The faster your body uses up the energy (calories) from food intake each day, the more it has to rely on the fat stored around your body for energy. Whilst a cardiovascular workout will increase your heart rate and get you burning lots of calories during the activity, after the session your metabolism will return relatively quickly to it’s normal rate. With strength training, the aim is to push your muscles to their limits. They then rebuild and recover for to 48 hours after your workout. This recovery process requires energy, leaving you with a spiked metabolic rate during the stage that seasoned athletes call ‘the after burn’.

Muscular cells use more energy and therefore burn more calories than fat cells within your body, which means that over time, as your muscles get stronger and your body fat percentage decreases, you’ll be left with an increased metabolic rate. In a nutshell, all calories consumed will be burnt quicker, even when you’re sitting on the sofa!

Is it too late? Am I too old?

You’re never too old to lift weights. In actual fact weight training is the perfect cure for a lot of those changes that happen in the body as you get older. In women over 50, oestrogen levels in the body start to drop. This hormonal change can dramatically reduce your metabolic rate, and it’s not uncommon for women to gain half a stone or more at this time in their life. Strength training can help to boost your metabolism back up and get your body burning fat again!

Strengthening your muscles, particularly those in your legs will also help you to stay active and independent later in life. You’re less likely to struggle with aching joints and back pain too!

Won’t I feel silly?

Having the initial confidence to enter the free weights area might feel like a big step into the unknown, but embrace the challenge and we’re sure once you’re there you’ll feel right at home.

If you still feel you need some help making that adjustment to include weights in your regime, we’ve got plenty of ways to help you. From free inductions and programme reviews for all of our members to affordable personal training sessions if you want extra support and guidance, speak to a member of our friendly gym team to see how we can make the transition to the weights area as smooth as possible!

Try something new. Step out of your comfort zone. We bet you’ll feel empowered just for giving it a go! You’ll leave the gym with your head held high and a spring in your step and you’re bound to start seeing results in no time!

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