Weightlifting is an integral part of any exercise regimen, but women seem to have many misconceptions and tend to shy away from it.
The primary stereotype about pumping iron is that it adds bulk to a women’s physique, and that it gives a woman, whose aim is to be voluptuous and curvaceous, a more “manly look.” Experts assert that the only way women will bulk up is if they want to. In a Dec. 2000 article of Ebony magazine entitled “Should Sisters Pump Iron,” Madeline Gantt, director of health and fitness for the Chicago South Side YMCA, says “Women who lift weights and look like men, so to speak, work out for hours and hours to look like that. You will never have that problem with just plain weightlifting.”
A recent study at the Indiana University Health Center also refutes the misconception. They assert that a man’s body will naturally respond differently to weight training than a woman’s mainly because of hormonal differences. Researchers support that by explaining, “The hormone testosterone plays a major role in muscular development. Because women have very little of this hormone, they tend not to bulk-up.”
Since that myth has been dismissed, let’s talk about the benefits. Incorporating weight training into your exercise program is beneficial. According to Gantt, weightlifting not only tones your muscles, but it also raises your basal metabolism. This causes you to burn more calories. The American Medical Association (AMA) advises people to combine weight training and cardiovascular exercises to “receive the maximum benefits of their workout routine.”
You should always consult a doctor before starting an exercise routine of any kind. A good lifting routine should take about half an hour, where you’re working all of your muscle groups for a few minutes at a time. A really effective routine will include all 10 of your body’s major muscle groups. These groups are triceps, shoulders, quadriceps, hamstrings, chest, calves, buttocks, biceps, abdominals and back. The AMA recommends the large muscles be exercised for thirty to sixty minutes a day, 2-3 times a week.
Weight training should not be excluded from anyone’s exercise routine because it is extremely helpful in getting the body you want. While there are misconceptions about women and weight training, they have been discounted. So women don’t be afraid of the bulky, beefcake look any more.