We sing the praises of strength training quite often. One, it’s an effective way to burn fat and sculpt the body in a short amount of time. Two, it allows your body to keep killing calories even in a resting state, which is something cardio can’t do. And three, it creates a solid foundation that can prevent your body from injuries as you age. So, yes, we have good reason to keep pushing you toward the weight room.
But even with all of its benefits, it’s possible that you may still be hesitant to pump some iron. Doing something new can be scary, but it can also be very rewarding. Don’t let intimidation sideline you from something that can transform your overall health. Below are some common reasons women tend to shy away from strength training, and tips on how to overcome each fear.
Scary Stuff: No Girls Zone
The weight room has long been seen as a boy’s club. And while, yes, on some days there will be more men than women at the “bar,” that doesn’t mean the guy’s own the room. You have just as much right to be there as they do.
Face the Fear: It should be as simple as walking into the room and doing your workout, but that’s not how conquering fears works. Instead, take it slow. Pick a time of day to get familiar with the weight room when it’s not packed with people. Very early mornings, late nights, and mid-mornings or mid-afternoons are all times when people are either sleeping, going to/from work, or at work. Walk around and get a lay of the land without feeling intimidated by others. When you do feel ready to lift, wear headphones and get in the zone. Men will be less likely to chat you up if you look unapproachable. If you need a little push, pair up with a workout buddy.
Scary Stuff: Newbie Status
If you’ve never squatted a barbell, military pressed a pair of dumbbells, or flexed your back with a pull-down bar, intimidation is sure to set in. There is a lot of equipment in a weight room, and it should all be used with safety in mind.
Face the Fear: It’s normal to be hesitant when doing something new, but that doesn’t mean it should hold you back from giving it a try. While you’re likely to make mistakes in the beginning of any new activity, you can minimize many of them by educating yourself on exercises and equipment use. Our site alone has tons of fitness tips to get your started, and a quick Google search will lead you to pretty much everything you ever wanted to know, including videos showing techniques and proper form. For extra help, enlist the help of a personal trainer or a friend who knows his or her way around a weight room.
Scary Stuff: Injury Prone
If “klutz” could be your middle name, the weight room may seem like a danger zone to you. Not only are there more equipment obstacles to fall off, trip over, or jam into but there are also dumbbells to drop on toes and bars on which to whack your head. And if your form is sloppy or if you’re lifting more weight than you body is ready for, you can also strain muscles and break bones.
Face the Fear: The klutz life is not an easy one. Spacial awareness is simply not a gift that was granted to everyone. Avoiding accidents requires being alert, staying present, and not letting your mind wander off. You’ll have more luck with this if you are well rested when working out, but practicing mindfulness meditation–yes, while you’re working out–can help you stay in the moment and avoid a body full of bruises. To avoid exercise-induced injuries, focus on your form and don’t let your ego decide how much weight to lift. If something is too heavy to maintain proper positioning, reduce the heft.
Scary Stuff: Getting Bulky
If there is one myth we would like to do away with forever, it’s that lifting weights will make you bulk up like the Incredible Hulk. It doesn’t mean it isn’t possible, but barring few genetic anomalies, most people have to be very regimented with diet, supplements, and heavy lifting to build mass.
Face the Fear: Being new to lifting, you’re going to be starting with lower weights. Before judging what you think will happen to your body composition, put it to the test. Follow a lifting program for about six weeks, taking before and after pictures along the way. If you see more muscle definition than you prefer, change your rep and load amounts. For example, to burn fat, go for higher reps at lower weight. Or, use moderate weights with 8 to 10 reps, but do all your exercises in a circuit style with little to no rest.
The weight room shouldn’t be the place of nightmares, so ditch the fears you’re holding onto and go reap the benefits of the bars and dumbbells.