Why Women Need to Start Lifting Weights

Updated: Apr 23, 2021

When we think about lifting weights, what comes to mind is a bunch of big sweaty men in stringers throwing heavy barbells around in a basement.

No wonder women feel like it’s not for them.

So let’s take a look at three reasons why you’d be crazy not to be strength training, and some alternatives to barbells and big sweaty men in stringers that can be just as effective.

Sound like music to your ears? Then let’s hit it off.

You need to start lifting weights if…

1. You want to look toned and defined.

Many women do hours and hours of cardio every week, hoping to get toned and defined. However, the main function of cardio is to improve your stamina, not to change your body shape.

The most effective way to slim down, if you’re carrying some extra body fat, is to change your diet. At the same time, you can tone up by lifting weights, which will build the muscle currently “hiding” under the extra layer of fat.

Hours of gruelling cardio will only give you grief, not the look you’re after. What you need is a combination of the right fat loss diet and some form of weight training.

And, if you’re worried that lifting weights might make you look too bulky, I have good news!

Women can certainly build muscle with years of focused training, BUT, even if you put on a large amount, you won’t risk losing your curves and femininity for three reasons.

  1. First, your body starts with less muscle than a man’s, so you’ll also put on less overall muscle. For example, you have a little over half as much muscle as a man in the upper body, and about two thirds in the lower body.

  2. Second, testosterone. This is the main male sex hormone and it can be a big help for muscle growth. As a woman, you produce about seven to eight times less testosterone than an average man, so looking like one shouldn’t even be on the list of your worries.

  3. Lastly, for both men and women, building a lot of muscle mass is a long, hard process. Ask any of your male friends!

You also need to start lifting weights if…

2. You want to feel stronger and healthier, regardless of age.

The benefits of lifting weights don’t stop at your looks.

We know that lifting weights can be highly beneficial for bone health, which is especially important for women, who seem to be at a higher risk than men of developing brittle bones as they age. Luckily, lifting weights can slow down the process of bone deterioration… even if you start later in life!

As a bonus, it will also increase your physical strength, so you’ll be able to carry groceries, heavy boxes, and your children around more easily. The independence you can achieve with no more than a couple of hour-long workouts per week is nothing to sniff at, if you ask me.

You also need to start lifting weights if…

3. You want to become a confident badass in and out of the gym.

Here comes the most evidence-based line of this entire article:

"A woman deadlifting her bodyweight or more is a total badass!"

Jokes aside, there is research supporting the fact that lifting weights doesn’t only improve your appearance and health; it can also have a profound positive effect on mental health.

Namely, it can reduce anxiety and symptoms of depression, increase self-esteem, help you get better sleep, and even aid brain function in the elderly. Are you sold yet?

But what about barbells and stringers?

To be clear, I’m a big fan of heavy barbells and have coached many women to love them, too. However, the best exercise program in the world won’t do anything for you unless you stick to it… And you won’t stick to it unless you enjoy it.

So what alternative forms of resistance training can you do if barbells aren’t your thing?

Here is a list of some of my favourites:

  1. Bodyweight training, such as press-ups and pull-ups

  2. Dumbbell and kettlebell training

  3. Weight machine training (think a leg extensions or a lat pull-down)

  4. Resistance band training

  5. TRX-based or suspension training

  6. Resistance training with unusual equipment like sandbags and medicine balls


Regardless of sex, if you do some form of resistance training that suits your preferences, fitness level, and goals, you’ll enjoy:

· A more toned and defined look.

· The feeling of being strong and healthy.

· The confidence of knowing you’re a badass!

So, now that you know how resistance training can benefit you, what are you waiting for? Get yourself to the gym!