Raising the bar: why women should lift weights.


As featured in Hip and Healthy

Have you checked out Millie Mackintosh’s Instagram feed lately? Well you should. She’s just one of a slew of female celebrities debunking the age old myth that weight lifting makes you bulky. She’s not the only one at it either. Thanks to the likes of Karlie Kloss and Miranda Kerr breezily deadlifting loaded barbells, there’s been a rapid increase in women turning to weights. So, what do these all these A listers know that we don’t?

“The days of running for hours to keep in shape are long gone,” says Lee Smith, Personal Trainer at Transition Zone and Physical Performance Coach for England’s Ladies Youth Team. “Resistance training with weights is where it’s at if you want to get lean and ripped. Some women are still suspicious of anything over 5kgs”, he continues, “but fears about ‘bulking up’ are largely unfounded. Because of much lower levels of testosterone, a woman’s hormonal makeup is not designed to add large amounts of muscle mass. Unless she’s living and breathing weights 24/7, it’s simply not going to happen.”

Did someone say lean and ripped? Hell yeah! But if that isn’t enough to convince you, here’s four more reasons we should all be raising the iron bar.

  1. Fat Loss: Lifting weights is the fastest and smartest way to burn fat. While excessive aerobic exercise can eat into your muscle stores, weight lifting burns almost exclusively fat. The best thing is, by creating more lean muscle mass, you’re turning your body into a fat torching machine – even when you’re resting.

  2. Anti-ageing: Weight lifting doesn’t only train your muscles, your bones become stronger and more dense too. Bone health is crucial for women. Regular resistance exercise such as lifting weights has been proven to help prevent osteoporosis and may even help build new bone.

  3. Endorphin rush: Lifting weights increases your feel-good hormones. Fact. We all know how kick-ass you feel when you walk out of a class sweat-drenched and proud. Those who regularly strength train tend to manage stress better and cope better in stressful situations.

  4. Better performance: Stronger muscles enable you to support your body’s weight and maintain better technique during other exercises, such as running or Pilates. “Strength has a way of seeping into all areas of your life, in the gym and out,” says Lee. “I train lots of women who feel really empowered – both mentally and physically – by the fact that they can deadlift their own body weight. They take that confidence with them wherever they go.”

In a nutshell, lifting weights helps you get stronger, leaner, happier and more bad ass. Believe the hype girls; strong not skinny is where it’s at. See you at the squat racks.