• Main page

Get Under The Bar, Ladies! Why Women Should Lift.

Weight Training For Women

It’s quite sad to see in this day and age that women are still avoiding weight training, and by weights I mean heavy weights, not those pink neoprene dumbbells I see you doing curls and kickbacks with. I don’t know where this notion came from that women shouldn’t lift weights but from what I’ve gathered it seems women are still in this ridiculous frame of mind in where they think lifting a weight will make them “big” “bulky” or “manly”.

Let me throw some basic science your way so you can see how utterly absurd that is. It takes the average male years upon years to build a solid physique, including a lot of training, eating, recovering etc all with the aid of testosterone. Ladies, in comparison you guys possess and produce a fractional amount of the testosterone us males produce. So, if it takes men years to develop appreciable muscle mass, I really don’t think (in fact I know) you’re going to turn into Mrs. Olympia after doing a set of barbell squats with 40kg. Furthermore, this idea of getting “too big”, which again is a pet peeve of mine, is just silly. This stuff doesn’t happen overnight, just like gaining weight doesn’t happen overnight. This stuff has to accumulate over time, therefore once you reach a level in where you’re happy/comfortable with your body/how you look or you’ve reached your goal then what’s stopping you from simply maintaining that?

Now, from what I’ve seen this way of thinking is rampant in commercial gyms. Women would rather do Zumba or some “pump” class rather than get under the bar. If that’s what you enjoy then go for it, everyone trains for different reasons. If you’re after getting stronger and developing a solid physique, however, ditch the classes and make friends with the barbell.

Woman Weight Lifting Example. Performing a Squat with Heavy Weight

On the flip side, I am pleased to see that in other gyms I work/train at and around the globe, women are embracing being strong and shying away from the cross trainer or treadmill. The whole Girls Who Powerlift community has exploded recently and I advise any doubting woman who still thinks lifting weights makes you look “manly” (whatever that even means) to go and check out those girls.

What’s odd is that I see so many women trying to get a bigger bum like *insert unimportant celebrity here* by doing a range of so called “challenges”. Sorry girls but you’re not going to develop some great glutes (which is a more polite way of saying a nice ass) by doing a 30 day bodyweight squat challenge, a thousand glute bridges or endless minutes on those ski type machines. You know what really builds great glutes? Squats, lunges, barbell hip thrusts and heavy hinge movements (think deadlifts and swings here).

I’ve been in and out of one particular commercial gym for the past 7 years and recently I’ve been recognizing members who’ve been there since the beginning. And you know what? They look exactly the same, doing the same shit. Both men and women doing endless “pump”, “dance” or “attack” classes in the hopes of becoming stronger and leaner, then complaining about it when they realize they haven’t changed in years. Additionally, this idea that the free weights section is the “men’s” area is dumb. Really dumb. Don’t assume any of those men have a clue what they’re doing, because I can tell you that 8/10 absolutely do not (this is from my own observations in gyms). Suck it up, ditch the light weight and the useless fancy new equipment (e.g. Vipr tubes and power plates, urgh) and put some weight on the bar! 

Below you’ll see some of the benefits of weight training for both men and women, which are astronomical and aren’t solely related to aesthetic or cosmetic pursuits



If you’ve spent the last few years focusing solely on cardio for health and/or fat loss, I’m gonna say your body is most likely used to it and thus most likely become efficient at it. Meaning you won’t be burning as much energy as you previously were. However, by using concurrent training (two or more different types of training e.g. weight training and cardio) you can accelerate your fat loss (and muscle building) potential. Concurrent training, when done properly can allow you to excel at multiple different ventures simultaneously (check out Alex Viadas work at Complete Human Performance for more information). Additionally, having more muscle mass means you’ll require more energy at any given time, meaning you can eat more!


Ever wonder why the girls who slog away on the cardio machines for hours on end tend to look flat but not lean?
It’s because they’re “skinny-fat“. They’re also probably the ones who still want to get “toned” – whatever the F that means?Woman lifting Heavy Weight over her head.
I’m gonna attempt to translate what “toned” means; It means getting leaner, which means you either need to build muscle,lose fat or a combination of the two. And how best to do that? Get Weight Training! Get under the bar!


While doing cardio is amazing (and dare I say essential) for overall heart health and lipid profiles (cholesterol, LDL, HDL and triglyceride levels) combining cardio with weight training is undoubtedly better as resistance training can improve your HDL/LDL ratio. Lowering LDL (“bad” cholesterol) and increasing HDL (“good” cholesterol) while simultaneously improving insulin sensitivity, which ultimately means you’ll utilize carbohydrates better for building muscle rather than having them stored as adipose (fat) tissue.
Utilizing carbohydrates to build muscle is actually one of the reasons that lifting weights will help reduce the risk of some cancers. Tumors and cancer cells feed off of carbohydrates (sugars) and so having the ability to divert and use more of your sugars to aid in muscle growth will help “starve” (and I use that word loosely) cancer cells. Furthermore, appropriate weight training can improve the quality of life for those who already have cancer and has been deployed in several rehabilitation programs. Besides the benefits of actually lifting weights, it’s in my own opinion that “lifters” will be less at risk of cancer simply due to the fact that stereo typically us lifters tend to lead healthier lifestyles. I know this isn’t always the case and that sadly, being healthy doesn’t mean you aren’t susceptible to cancer but I think overall, not smoking or drinking (often), being more active, having better lipid profiles and blood pressure and making healthier nutritional choices will all help reduce your/our risk of developing cancer.

Being sedentary of living a life lacking physical activity can only increase your risk of developing osteoporosis. Weight training or load bearing exercises will improve your bone density and therefore help resist any onset/risk of developing osteoporosis. Additionally, exercise is a great stress reliever, it can help take your mind off so much, especially if you’ve got shit going on in your life (trust me). Of course, it’s also quite taxing physically on the body so can help you sleep in that regard, however growth hormone is released in order to grow and repair when we are asleep and this hormone has been shown to increase the quality of sleep we get.


Probably the most important benefit…..and well, why not?! Of course, we know the primary sex hormones in males is testosterone and in females is estrogen. However, males do produce estrogen and females do produce testosterone albeit to15153001_10153982915849147_1865951732_o lesser degrees. Testosterone is known to massively improve and increase libido and weight training is a great way of naturally increasing testosterone production in both sexes. This doesn’t mean you’re going to start growing a beard and developing an Adams apple, and sorry but your balls won’t suddenly drop but you will most likely get stronger and have an improved libido. Win win!

To conclude, I wanna say the aim of this article isn’t to bash anyone that doesn’t enjoy weight training or those that really love doing classes and endless hours of cardio. This is simply to share my views on why women should lift weights, heavy weights (but remember “heavy” is a relative term). I’ve shed a lot of my own opinions on the matter but also listed some pretty tempting facts as to why you should start weight training. Ditch the treadmill and grab hold of the bar!

When in doubt, get the iron out! 
Lift Strong And Conquer!



author: Louis Whenlock

Hi I’m Louis, a passionate freelance Personal Trainer on a mission to cut through the BS and gimmicks of the fitness world and deliver honest, hard earned results to my clients.