Shanu Shashank

 | 1 minute to read

Women Should Not Lift Weights!

Fitness Myths
Women and weight lifting has been a topic of debate for quite a while now and honestly, I do not understand the brouhaha around it.

It is completely normal for a female to lift weights, primarily because it’s her choice. Secondly, if you find this problematic then kindly buy heavy weights, tie them onto your feet and jump, so that you never resurface from that pool of mediocre thinking. Period! Sadly, the fault in perception and lack of information (or rather, I would say plethora of misinformation) have made women pay a heavy price. Most women I have guided had to be persuaded to lift weights for their own good. YES, WOMEN SHOULD LIFT WEIGHTS! “Barbells don’t care if you are a man or a woman or from the 3rd gender.” Also, Breaking News: LIFTING WEIGHTS WILL NOT MAKE YOU LOOK LIKE A MAN !! - In fact it's equally essential for a female to do resistance training as it is for a man. I know there are many individuals who still have a hard time accepting this fact. Let us take the path of science, rationality and logic to arrive at a well informed opinion. WHAT DOES SCIENCE SAY? - Our society has been conditioned to interpret femininity as soft and fragile and wants us to believe that women are just meant to take care of the household chores for most of their lives. Most people across the world believed this, until attitudes started evolving. - So, let us look at what studies have to say when it comes to women and weight lifting: ✓ Strength & Endurance: One obvious benefit of weight lifting is that it will make women stronger and help them develop better muscular endurance, which perhaps will make it easy for them to manage their daily chores and activities like moving objects, playing with kids or picking them up, cleaning, etc. (Ref 1) ✓ Improved Health & Fitness: Another big advantage is the improvement of several dimensions of health and fitness like better hormonal levels, proper sleep, thus contributing towards an improved quality of life. ✓ Better Body Image: With our upbringing largely influenced by societal conditioning, a number of females have a negative body image, whether it's about their fat percentage, complexion or height. The latter two being natural phenomena, there’s nothing anyone can do about them. Reduction in fat mass and improved muscle mass has been helping women with an improved perception of their physical appearances by making them fitter. (Ref 2,3) ✓ So, clearly weight lifting by women is directly linked to a greater degree of their physical wellbeing, but not at all linked with making them look like a man. WEIGHT LIFTING & HORMONES - There are three main hormones that regulate womens’ menstrual cycles - estrogen, testosterone and progesterone. While estrogen (primary sex hormone) helps reduce fatigue and muscle damage, it also promotes bone health, testosterone helps in improving energy, endurance and muscle mass, and lessens the mood swings. Progesterone plays a big role in regulating body temperature and managing mood swings. All these hormones work hand in hand and weight training is very helpful in improving their levels collectively. (Ref 4,5,6,7) - Weight training as a physical activity has been found to help individuals stay away from injuries, irrespective of their gender and age. But, does weight lifting really make women bulky and masculine? ✓ As a matter of fact, it takes years of training for a woman to gain that level of muscle mass. More than that, a diet which is quite high in calories becomes essential. The presence of the hormone - testosterone responsible for muscle growth is at least 10-20 times lesser in females as compared to males, while the starting point for muscle mass is naturally lesser, too. So, the thought of looking masculine due to weight training could only happen in dreams that defy science. (Ref 8) ✓ It could be quite intimidating for a newbie to see female trainees doing some heavy deadlifts and squats, although they are just working harder at their own levels. So, my advice to the newbie would be: watch and learn. ✓ In fact, weight training helps you get leaner and look more defined with better body composition i.e. decent muscle mass and lesser fat %. Win win, I would say . For those citing Sanskriti (tradition) and culture : ✓ Utensils in ancient times were made of copper. Until the 2nd world war when stainless steel was introduced. Guess what, men were not the ones lifting heavy! ✓ The female workers in some communities are found to be lifting bricks and mixers, and yeah, those women are quite lean. ✓ Women in rural India tend to do activities that include heavy lifting such as - preparing cattle feed, carrying harvest and wood bundles on their heads, carrying small children while tea picking, lifting heavy buckets and containers of water and walking for miles. Again, you guessed it right - men are not the ones heavy lifting here! The point is, it does not matter whether you are in urban pockets or rural hinterlands, or whether you are a man or woman. Heavy weight lifting is not going to make you look anything you don’t want. On the contrary, it shall help you regain fitness level, your bones and joints will thank you and most importantly, you will feel good about yourself. References:


What a great read!

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