“8 things I’ve learned from weightlifting.”

Image: iStock

By Janine Jame

When I tell people I lift, they usually cock their heads to the side. What follows is usually one or a combination of some of the following:

But you’re so small!

So you don’t ever do cardio… ever?

Aren’t you scared of getting injured?

Sigh.

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I grew up hating exercise. I somehow always managed to do terribly in physical education, as I sucked at running — and hated it. If there were a zombie apocalypse right now and I had to run for my life… I am pretty confident that my guts would be grub in about 10 minutes.

I have never been able to run a 9-minute mile. I know this because I was on my high school’s track team, after being relentlessly asked to join (due to my build). I was on it for all of a week before both the coach and captain realised they’d made a grave mistake.

So, it wasn’t until my sister started getting into weightlifting that I decided to give it a shot. As someone who had previously approached exercise with a negative eye, I started with all of the same preconceived notions that many women do.

Watch: Ex-Bachelor Sam Wood demonstrates a simple 5-step bodyweight circuit. (Post continues after video.)

However, after adapting to the lifestyle over a year ago, I cannot imagine a life without lifting. Here’s why:

1. You build strong, lean muscles.

Most women automatically assume that lifting a ton of weight means that you’ll immediately bulk up and resemble a bodybuilder.

This is 100% untrue. In order to get massive, big muscles, one would need to rely on a high-protein diet with a slew of supplements.

Although there is variation in hormone levels, most cisgender women do not have the level of testosterone needed to build the massive muscles that are often associated with cis male bodybuilders. But if that’s what you’re going for, there are definitely ways to do it.

"Wost cisgender women do not have the level of testosterone needed to build massive muscles." Image: iStock

2. Many people don’t get super-sweaty or leave out of breath.

If bouncing around on a cardio machine isn’t your cup of tea, weightlifting is a perfect alternative.

Leaving the gym drenched in sweat or gasping for air works for a lot of people — but if you want something that doesn’t leave your heart racing, keep weightlifting in mind.

3. Your body continues to burn fat even after you’ve left the gym.

A lot of people assume that cardio is the most effective way to lose weight, which is false. According to The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, women who complete an hour-long strength-based workout burn approximately 100 more calories in 24 hours, whereas women who just stick to cardio do not.(Post continues after gallery.)

4. Upping how much you lift is one of the most satisfying feelings in the world.

OK, so this is pure opinion, but when I first started lifting I could barely squat 25kg. I am now comfortably able to squat low with 70 on my shoulders. My ultimate goal is to hit the big 90 before 2016 concludes.

Hitting goals feels so good, and having those milestones motivate me to keep giving it my all at the gym. It might help you, too.

5. Physical labor is easier.

IMHO, independence is one of the best things a woman can have. Not having to rely on someone to carry or move larger items, for me, is a rewarding feeling.

Gone are the days in which I had to wait for my boyfriend to come home in order to move our bed, couch, or dining room table. Now I can do it myself!

"Not having to rely on someone to carry or move larger items, for me, is a rewarding feeling." (istock)

6. I’m sculpting curves.

If you want a fitter waist, a six-pack, or a larger bum, lifting will help you get there. You can virtually sculpt your entire body through lifting.

I was in complete denial when I first heard that squats and glute bridges will give you a more curvaceous lower body, but after gaining two inches of butt muscle I quickly became a believer. Whether you’re looking to get bigger, smaller, or stronger, lifting can help!

7. A tonne of your faves do it.

Still skeptical about what a female lifter’s body will look like?

Beyonce, Cameron Diaz, and Gwen Stefani are just a few celebrities who have incorporated heavy-lifting into their workout routines.

While I do not have the money to hire one of their fancy trainers, I do often turn to Instagram and YouTube for crafting my fitness routines. (Post continues after gallery.)

8. More women should be doing it.

Last week I witnessed a woman lift a 70kg barbell over her head and successfully perform four sets. Every single guy in the gym stopped to watch... and it took everything within me not to scream "Yaaaasssss."

I’d love it if more women embraced the weight room. There seems to be this ongoing fear that lifting is dangerous for women or could lead to injury, but I don’t see it as being any more dangerous than stepping foot on a treadmill.

If you’ve been thinking about it, give it a try! Even if your gym’s weight room is a boy’s club, gather your confidence and walk in there like you own the place... because you kinda do.

What have you learnt from weightlifting?

This story by Janine James originally appeared on Ravishly.com, a feminist news+culture website.

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