Women and weightlifting by Angela Rey
Exercise has always been a huge part of my life - far more natural to me than to spending hours in front of the TV. But it wasn’t until I decided to become a full time Fitness Professional that I became more interested in weightlifting.
Back then, I decided that if I wanted to properly teach my clients, I had to know how to perform the exercises myself. So I started performing the basics with very light dumbbells. Why? Because I was worried it would change my body if I went heavier. Today, the question I am asked the most is: “Won’t lifting weights give me big muscles and make me bulky?” Here’s what I learnt…
To be a good instructor, I had to fully understand barbell training and weightlifting technique. It was the beginning of an amazing journey. I learnt how to move better, how to have total control over my body, how to face the fear of a heavy weight and conquer it, or on occasion not to conquer it and how to come back again until I did. I learnt how to accept myself, to embrace the feeling of getting stronger and feel great in my own body.
I’m not going to lie to you, the first few times I stepped into the free weight room it was a bit daunting, I wasn’t sure what to do or how to do it. I felt I had to fight for space and equipment in a male dominated environment. I stuck with it and made myself big in the room, I claimed and earned that space with consistency and determination. Most importantly I didn’t lose sight of the fact that I had as much right to be there as anyone else.
So the answer to the question… “Won’t lifting weights give me big muscles and make me bulky?” The honest answer is that it can, but it’s highly improbable.
Over a long time and through consistent training, my body has changed…for the better. I have earned my muscles, I didn’t buy them and they weren’t given to me. Because of this I feel mentally and physically stronger and more confident that I ever have been. I own my training and I own my body.
We all appreciate the things we get with effort and persistence. But remember, it takes a huge amount of consistent and long-term effort, sometimes working out more than once a day to build muscle. You have to want to. And not just that, there’s the science behind it. To build muscle you need two things - testosterone and growth hormone. Testosterone in women is 10 times lower than in men and, after resistance training, it changes very little or not at all. Growth hormone supports and initiates the growth of tissue (muscle) and the reduction of adipose tissue (fat). Women make more growth hormone than men because its production is stimulated by oestrogen, but we don’t build big muscles because its muscle building capacities are limited without high levels of testosterone. So, no need to worry about bulking up (unless you want to).
I am proud of myself and my journey and I urge you to join me. If you have any questions or would like some help with taking the first step, you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or come and find me in the Club. I hope to see you in the weight room soon.
Celebrating Women’s Health Week, running from 8 – 14 May.
Need more reasons to start weightlifting? Here are my top five benefits:
- More self-confidence.
- A sense of achievement after each workout.
- It challenges me to be better, to be stronger.
- More control of my body.
- Providing me with a goal to work towards.