Written by Akesha Smith
When it comes to gyms, there is always a segregation between those who choose to stick to the cardiovascular machines and those who lift heavy weights in the weightlifting section. The majority of people you see in the weightlifting section is men, and women tend to stick to the cardiovascular machines.
It has always been thought that men are stronger than women, and tend to grow more muscle as it makes them appear more masculine. Though over time things have changed and more and more women are gaining confidence and independence and stepping up to the weightlifting area. However, there is still a large amount of women who do not dare venture over to that section.
Women who choose not to endure in weight lifting not only avoid it due to it being a ‘mans’ area but for reasons such as, not wanting to get too ripped and lose their feminine look. Some women also believe weightlifting to be quite a scary thing. Lifting more than your body weight above your head is quite a skill and has its dangers.
Agreed this is a reasonable concern to have, as an improper technique can lead to unnecessary injuries that could have been easily avoided. Weight lifting is no walk in the park and must not be taken lightly. Getting it right is an amazing feeling but, to get to that stage you must practise properly for a period of time and not rush the exercise, as this will also cause injuries that could have been avoided.
Great Britain athlete Lina Nielsen, 4x400m European Champion stresses how important and beneficial weight lifting is to your workout. Lina has been weightlifting for more than six months now and has been perfecting her techniques since January. “Weight lifting is definitely beneficial as it works on the central nervous system and to be a sprinter you rely massively on this…it strengthens it up and I believe it has made me quicker.”
She also goes on to explain that weightlifting is for everyone, not just those who compete at a professional level. “I recommend it to everyone as it does not just help with your sport but also with your confidence…lifting a heavy weight which weighs more than you, above your head is not a normal thing”. Once Lina had mastered certain weight lifting exercises she quickly began focusing on lifting more weight to gain more power, as having more power will make her more explosive on the track. “…as a woman lifting heavy weights above your head is so empowering, it makes you believe that you can do anything…I love weight training, I think it is the best part of my training!”.
Since weight training has been incorporated into her workout plan, Lina feels that it has pushed her in the right direction quicker “If I had not begun weight training I doubt that I would have got me to the position I am in now…it has pushed me towards my goal much quicker than just running alone would have”. Lina works very closely with her strength and conditioning coach making sure she is hitting her mark each time as she knows the work she puts into the gym will show in her performance on the track.
“Once I saw the benefits on the track and the increase of my performance level, I knew I needed to take gym and weight lifting itself more seriously”. Lina is always working on perfecting her technique so that she can do it to the best of her ability “I watched loads of videos of weightlifters and looked closely at their technique and how well they use to execute every move…I just thought to myself if they can do it I don’t see why I can’t”.
Everyone should embrace and work weights into their workout plan as the benefits are too great to ignore. The fear that you’ll suddenly bulk up is a myth. It will take some time and the correct diet to achieve mountain muscles that bodybuilders possess. You may think that you do not need weights as you are not looking to get strong and only want to lose weight. However, weight lifting does help you lose weight.
Muscles need food to grow, in fact, they need a high protein content and a number of carbohydrates. The more weights you do and the more protein and good food you eat, the likelihood of storing excess fat reduces. Bodies store food as fat, therefore, the greater muscle mass gained subsequently means that less fat is stored, giving people the ending result of a toned and muscular body with hardly any fat. Adding a few weighted exercises into your workout will cause no harm as you are just starting out.
In the beginning stages, there is no need to push yourself too hard as you would quickly become disheartened as you would not be able to lift heavy weights straight away. After a period of time, if you wanted to step your weight training to the next level, it is always best to seek professional advice and guidance so you can be shown the proper way of executing the exercise to the best of your ability.