Why Women Need To Be Lifting Weights
As the social profile of the “Strong Not Skinny” movement continues to circulate, alongside the success of franchises such as F45 offering welcoming introductions to weight lifting and mega-influencer Kayla Itsines including a lifting programme to her infamous Bikini Body Guide spinoff Sweat app, there is a rising army of confident women owning space in the traditionally male weights room.
However for many trainers, there’s still an initial hesitation against resistance training, with the words “but I’ll get bulky…right?” nervously uttered at many first consultations. One such trainer, CrossFit and Strength Coach Rebecca Hall, faces this [infuriating] barrier regularly. Recounting these sessions, she tell us “it’s as though they think suddenly picking up anything heavy will make you bulky and like some images you see on body building magazines.” Quickly adding “it’s highly untrue!”
With a background as a professional contemporary dancer, and a qualified level 4 PT with Animal Flow and Yoga qualifications, movement of all forms is a part of this coach’s DNA. It was during her dancing days that Rebecca discovered strength training – shout out to WonderWomanWorkshops – and over the years she found her way to CrossFit before gaining a passion for Olympic Weightlifting. Merging her varied backgrounds and knowledge into personal training sessions, she’s found her own experiences not only greatly assist with creative programming, queuing and movement patterning but additionally allows her to build deeper connections with her female clients, to empower them to get into resistance training.
After training hundreds of women and competing to national level herself, it’s safe to say she knows a thing or two about the positive effects of lifting weights for women.
Why women need to lift weights
Physically, women of all ages should be adding in weight training to their weekly workout mix to ensure they stay fit, healthy and strong. Aside from the metabolic after burn effect, body composition gains, incorporating resistance training can decrease the risk of osteoporosis as we age.
Mentally, the sustained focus and commitment required to undertake strength training can assist in alleviating anxiety, lower stress levels and boost self-confidence. Because truly, learning to lift heavy shit –properly– is damn empowering.
the top benefits of resistance training
If you need any further reasons to get you picking up the weights, Rebecca tells us her favourite benefits of strength training:
1.Movement Cross Pollination
Strength training is a good baseline for any other exercise or movement you part-take in. Do you think sprinters just train sprinting all day long? No, they improve strength in their legs to give them more power to go fast!
2. Fat Loss
If your goal is fat loss, which is a common goal of my female clients, this is the style of training you should be doing. The benefits for strength training on body composition and fat loss far outweigh mindless running on a treadmill for 60+ minutes.
3. no age discrimination
Anyone, at any should be doing some form of resistance training. There are a endless options of movements, progressions and regressions that can accomodate for injuries, age and performance goals – it's never too late. I trained a 60 year old mother, who quit smoking 5 years ago and is now deadlifting 70kg.
It’s a rewarding activity. You set a goal, work hard, and ultimately succeed. It makes you feel empowered and strong – and who doesn’t want to feel good?!
Aside from the most common misconception that lifting weights will "make you bulky", Rebecca says for many women, an education barrier exists where there is a lack of knowing exactly what to do when they summons up the courage to enter the weights arena – which quickly translates to a fear of failure. Taking the time to employ a coach, or educate yourself properly, is important to build the initial confidence in your own skills and capabilities and reduce the risk for injury to occur.
Once weight training is implemented into a weekly regime, Rebecca tells us that women feel stronger and much more confident in their own skin. It’s common to suddenly notice a kick on effect of their strength transferring to all the other activities they participate in, such as running and Yoga.
For Rebecca, the most beneficial aspect of weight lifting has been the foundation of strength that translates to all the ways in which she loves to move. In her Animal Flow sessions she has better shoulder stabilisation and core strength, with her strength training allowing her to now hold up her own bodyweight with complete ease.
When stepping onto the yoga mat, similarly she’s able to progress to more advanced variations, finding she can “hold more complex poses because I have strength I have gained.”
There’s also some functional real life situations lifting weights helps with, as an avid traveller it’s got to be said it also makes going to the airport with 20kg + suitcases a simpler task!
The modern woman is always trying to upskill and advance, and in the gym there is no exception. When asked how weight lifting had changed her own mindset and skills, Rebecca was quick to answer “I love that you can’t stop with strength training, you just keep getting stronger, lifting new weights, achieving more advanced bodyweight movements. It keeps growing.” How’s that for continual progression?!
Alongside that she doesn’t underestimate how confident in her own skin she now is, “Throughout my dance training I always had an underlying desire to be and feel strong. Through resistance training I began to explore even further what my body can do and now I have achieved this strength... But I’ll always continue working on it!”
And as an athlete? Through committed training, disciplined focus and growing self confidence, she's been able to achieve things she never would have thought possible. Which translates to her skills as a trainer, giving enhanced perspective of the baseline strength everyone should experience for an optimal quality of life.
Tips for getting started
Feeling empowered to add some weight lifting to your week? Coach Rebecca gives us her three best tips to get started.
1. Book a pro
Start with a Personal Trainer or at a specific strength training gym. This is ensure you are getting the correct technique for each movement and minimises the risk for injury.
2. make the commitment
Commit and make strength training a priority 2-4 times per week for 4-6 weeks to really see results. Unfortunately strength doesn’t happen overnight and you need to give it time for adaptation to occur!
3. keep records
Record your weights and track your progress so that you can look back and see how far you have come. It is SO rewarding!! I remember my first one rep max back squat was 80kg and now it’s 125kg!
rebecca works at crossfit creature in marrickville and bondi and signature fitness in bondi.
reach out to her via email firstname.lastname@example.org or on instagram for pt sessions.
Cover PC: Insta/@basebodybabes