Breaking Down The Barriers To Women & Lifting

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Sweat

September 12, 2019

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When it comes to lifting, everyone needs to find their groove. Starting too heavy simply isn’t safe, but if you don’t challenge yourself you won’t progress. So what’s the happy (and healthy) medium?

Before you get started with BUILD, the powerbuilding program in the Sweat app, it’s important to know the facts. From rest and recovery to form and fuel and concerns about getting ‘bulky’, there’s a lot of weightlifting misinformation out there.

Busting common myths about lifting

We thought we’d do the heavy lifting for you (ha, see what we did there!) and tackle some of the most common myths about women and weights. Here are some of the biggest misconceptions, busted.

1. Only women of certain shapes and sizes can lift

If you were to conjure up an image of the ‘perfect’ body for lifting, what would it be? That’s a trick question. There isn’t one. There’s no such thing as the ‘perfect’ body.

When it comes to powerbuilding — which is a combination of strength training and muscle hypertrophy — it’s all about increasing strength and changing your shape over time. Anyone can start to lift weights if they begin with a solid foundation, make gradual progress and focus on performance. 

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither was your body. It’s called BUILD, not BUILT, after all!If you’re just getting started with weight training, be realistic and safe about what you can lift. 

Start with lighter weights and gradually increase them as you gain more strength and confidence. However, it’s important to always focus on form first. Once you’ve nailed that, increase your weights and reps.

If you feel like you’re too short, tall, big or small to try lifting, cast those thoughts aside! Sweat Trainers and Sweat Community members alike range in height, body shape,  proportions and abilities. 

When it comes to getting in the right frame of mind to train, positive self-talk can be incredibly powerful. Instead of talking yourself out of something, remind yourself that you have what it takes to achieve your training goals. So much of your strength comes from within!

Sweat Trainer Kelsey Wells is also a big fan of affirmations, gratitude and positive thinking, and she uses these as part of her Redefine Fitness program - a blend of mindfulness and strength training!

  • Myth: Only women of certain shapes and sizes can lift.

  • Reality: Your shape and size has nothing to do with it!

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2. Lifting heavy weights causes injuries

It’s totally normal to be nervous about lifting weights, especially if you’re a beginner, but this apprehension can be overcome with patience, gradual progression and proper technique. 

Lifting heavy doesn’t cause injuries, but lifting heavy with incorrect form can, so you should ALWAYS focus on getting your technique right and ask a gym staff member or workout buddy to check your form if necessary. 

The reality is any type of exercise can cause an injury if you don't do it properly. Whether it’s running, playing a sport, high jumping or lifting weights, focusing on your form isn’t just important — it’s essential.

Make sure your technique is right when you’re doing programs like BUILD by following the demonstrational videos in the Sweat app. 

Pay particular attention to bracing your core and the position of your neck, back and knees during the lifts. If you’re not sure whether your form is right (or it doesn’t feel right), seek the advice of a trainer.

Aside from focusing on form, a warm-up, cool down and post-workout stretching or foam-rolling session can also help reduce the risk of injury and allow your body to recover. 

We know it’s tempting to dive straight into your workout when you’re at the gym,but you should always squeeze in 5-10 minutes for a warm-up before you start. Warming up revs up your cardiovascular system and increases blood flow to your muscles. It can also reduce risk of injury and reduce the level of soreness. Choose an awesome, energising warm-up track to get in the zone. 

Cooling down is just as important and a quick 10-minute session can help prevent your muscles from cramping while gradually slowing down your heart rate. 

  • Myth: Lifting heavy causes injuries.

  • Reality: Injuries can be avoided if you focus on technique, warm-ups, cool downs and adequate recovery.

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3. Lifting weights isn’t feminine 

This is another crazy myth. Lifting doesn’t make you masculine, it won’t make you ‘bulky’, and it certainly doesn’t make you less of a woman. 

Firstly, men’s and women’s bodies are not the same. A woman’s hormonal makeup is different and we don’t build muscle at the same rate or to the same size. 

Women produce significantly less of the muscle-building hormone testosterone in comparison to men. It doesn’t mean we can’t build our muscle size and strength if we work hard, it just means our bodies are biologically different. 

For many women, lifting weights is an empowering way to exercise that can result in stronger muscles, bones and a greater sense of confidence (both in and out of the gym!). Being strong and being feminine are not mutually exclusive - the Sweat Trainers are all amazing examples of this! 

  • Myth: Lifting isn’t feminine.

  • Reality: You can be strong and feminine. In fact, strength can enhance your feminine qualities.

4. You need to spend hours in the gym to see results

Many of us lead busy lives and are often short on time. A jam-packed schedule demands a quick, effective workout and BUILD is a great lifting program that can fit into the busiest of lifestyles! 

A serious workout shouldn’t take up too much of your day. You should get maximum benefits in minimal time by making every minute count.

Change the way you think about your training. Instead of measuring the quality of your workout routine by how long each session is, measure it by the weights you’re lifting.Opt for heavy weight lifting workouts in strong, short bursts instead of long, exhausting sessions. 

Aim for three sessions spaced throughout the week - a sustainable and realistic goal that will allow your body to recover and set you up for long-term success. 

  • Myth: You need to spend all your spare time in the gym to see results.

  • Reality: Train smarter and be consistent for long-term, sustainable results.

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Breaking lifting myths

Defy expectations and smash your own limiting beliefs! Focus on the facts, work hard, make the most of every workout and believe in yourself. Feeling strong and empowered starts here.

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A more empowered you starts with Sweat, and our editorial team is here to bring you the latest fitness tips, trainer recommendations, wellbeing news, nutritional advice, nourishing recipes and free workouts.

* Disclaimer: This blog post is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. The above information should not be used to diagnose, treat, or prevent any disease or medical condition. Please consult your doctor before making any changes to your diet, sleep methods, daily activity, or fitness routine. Sweat assumes no responsibility for any personal injury or damage sustained by any recommendations, opinions, or advice given in this article.

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