Addressing Female Concerns with Training
Working with tons of women I commonly encounter the same concerns. “I don’t want to get too strong.” “I just want to tone.” and of course “I don’t want to lift weights because it’s manly”.
Let me start off by saying that all human beings should train the same. Train like an athlete, not your gender. Gender has zero to do with how or what you train. If everyone trained like an athlete, more people would move better and have less bone and or muscle related issues later in life. If you think about it, sports are just taking basic human movements and taking them to the elite level. Developing these proper movement patterns (squat, hinge, push, pull, carries, etc...) at the basic level will carry over into your later years making every day tasks more achievable. Resistance training is the only form of training that efficiently puts enough stress on your bones to initiate crucial bone density adaptations that will help counteract osteoporosis and osteopenia (bone mass loss) that more women encounter in their later years than men.
“I don’t want to get too strong.” Where to begin with this statement? When did strength become considered a weakness? So many women that come to me are afraid of being strong. Or at least that’s how it may seem. Perhaps, they are afraid of trying to become strong and failing. This fear of failure overwhelms so many of us in our daily lives. I’m here to let all women know that making the attempt at becoming stronger has already made you stronger. You are stronger than the 99% of women that are paralyzed by fear of failure and never make the attempt to change their lives. Also, being strong comes with some pretty cool benefits. People start noticing the hard work you put into your lifestyle. Your physique changes in a way that enhances your womanly figure. You put on lean muscle mass, that not only makes you look amazing and healthy, but also helps keep away the looming threat of sarcopenia (muscle loss) in your later years.
“I just want to tone.” So many people outside of the fitness industry throw around the term “tone” while people in the industry chastise those that use the term. I don’t agree with this, because it is our job as fitness professionals to educate and inform those outside the industry. So, I always respond to this statement with “What exactly is it that you would like to tone?” Usually this term actually is an attempt to communicate that they would like to put on lean muscle. It is just a simple way of attempting to say that they would like to lower their body fat content and increase their muscle mass. So, I say embrace the term “tone” and educate that the only way to do so is through resistance training.
“I don’t want to lift weights because it’s manly” This statement is a little trickier to get around. Because years of male sport has dominated culture and women in our society have been led to believe that only men train in the traditional strength and conditioning manner. But, with the cross fit movement and women sport figures recently coming into the light, has started to show that women can and should embrace the empowerment that comes with training. So what I like to do with women that share this sentiment is relate it to their lives. Relate it to a time that they did something that society has generally embraced as being a male dominated event. Usually it is getting a promotion, holding a certain position within their company, or even previously engaging in a physical activity that is male dominated. Then the idea of doing something “manly” isn’t as hard to wrap their heads around and it becomes less of a fear of being castigated by society’s eye.
With all that being said, it all just comes down to realizing taking up strength training is for the better for your life. For your present self and future self. So, do what needs to be done and invest in your self today. Pick up that weight, you badass woman!