Why Lifting is really good for Women (And Why it won't make you huge)


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I've heard that a lot. I even believed it a lot too. I've always been afraid of the bar and plates (heck, even the mere sight of 5-lb dumbbells would make my heart thump wildly) thinking that they will make me look like my boyfriend, and that my boyfriend will eventually leave me because he's not really into a man. Also, I wanted to be skinny.

When I began to fall in love with fitness and my perception of my body had a 360- degree turn, all of a sudden, I mustered the courage and will to pick up the bar, caress it, and lift it-I started with just a 5-lb. bar and with classic weight lifting moves such as military press, bend over row, and shrugs-I looked silly during my first time and got really exhausted, but I loved the challenge and most especially, I loved the burn. Eventually, I moved on to 8 lbs., then to 10 lbs., then to 15 lbs, then to 20 lbs., then to 30 lbs., then to 40 lbs., then to 50 lbs. I progressed to the 35 lb. oly bar and got a little hooked on olympic lifting until I found myself doing power cleans and power snatches with a 65 lb. bar with matching push press and the rest is 125 lb. history. (125 lb. is my 1 rep maximum for deadlift) Coming from someone who despised exercising, I never thought I would like weight lifting so much-no, make that I LOVE WEIGHT LIFTING SO MUCH.

This is what I look like now…WHEN FLEXED! I may look too muscular for some, but please know that you will look like this with weightlifting only if you flex or activate and tighten all your muscles. I doubt you can walk like that all day-it's too taxing and you put yourself at risk of muscle spasm.

Now this is me in reality. It's far from the mythical weightlifting woman creature I have always imagined. When I began incorporating power cleans and push press in my cardio and conditioning workouts, plus doing a full body weight + weights workout per week, I overcame the dreaded fitness plateau and lost 2 more inches off my waist just last month and got considerably leaner with my arms showcasing the most drastic change, plus the dimples on my side abs got deeper too. To date, I walk around in 21- 20% body fat from 30% 10 months ago. The goal is 17% body fat, but that is for another blog post-I'll let you know when I get there.

Ladies, please lift.

I do not know where these fear- mongering facts about weight lifting came from, but I can attest that all of them are not true, based on my 10 months of experience. Perhaps all those silly companies that market their silly, sissy exercises made up all these imaginary fears to confine women in a bubble of weakness, but the truth is finally being realized that weight lifting is good for both men and women, and women can surely lift weights too.

You wanna lose more weight? Then heed this no-nonsense, straightforward advice: LIFT. I will tell you why you should.

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- When you reach the dreaded plateau stage, it's time to amp up your workout's intensity-Yes, increasing reps and sets will help, but lifting can do the same thing as well (minus more time spent in the gym). One of the keys to losing more fat is doing explosive moves as such moves require more caloric expenditure-fat is a sum of calories and if you spend more of the latter, you lose more of the former. I hit the plateau stage around June of this year and I began to realize that my body hasn't been changing anymore, until I lifted more. By August, I noticed that my waist got smaller and my overall body looked tighter and smaller too-even my boyfriend noticed it too. By the way, if you still find the girl featured in the above photo too muscular and 'manly' for you, please don't fret because plain lifting won't do that to you-it's a combination of athleticism, good genes, strategic nutrition and structured workouts-it's a lot more work than you think. Lastly, when you have more muscle, you burn more fat naturally. ;)

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- Here's the truth: it is easier to lose fat than to put on muscle. My boyfriend who's been trying to put on more muscle for years (and works out more diligently than me, by the way) can attest to this, and even certified fitness coaches and body building enthusiasts do too (a quick search on T-Nation will reinforce this truth even further). Yes, you'll look bigger in the first few months or one year because there's still fat here and there, but give it a lil' more time and you'll start getting leaner and smaller because you're losing more fat. In the first three months of my training, I looked bigger than what I was before exercising, but now, I've finally looked leaner as I've shed more fat in the process. Those who have been telling you that lifting weights will make you look like a walking cumulus cloud have no idea of what they're talking about.

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- Ah, one of the best things I got from weight lifting. Weight lifting is also posture science as it helps improve mind-body connection and teaches you to be mindful of your form all the time, which is very useful in real life. Weight lifting disciplined me to keep my back straight at all times which in turn prevents me from developing back problems and a belly paunch-it also taught me how to stand, walk, sit, and pick up stuff from the ground properly, which in turn prevents minor injuries that could affect my body in the long run. Above all, it taught me how to use my body properly.

Being able to lift your natural weight (aka body weight) is also related to good posture, balance, and coordination. Many people tend to slouch, limp, and get tired easily because they cannot carry their own body weight. When you train using your own body weight, your daily mobile activities will slowly improve.

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- Weight lifting has got massive hidden health benefits: it helps prevent Sarcopenia, or a condition wherein a person loses muscle as he/she ages. When you're young and you use your muscles frequently, it gets stronger through wear and tear, thus you get to preserve your body and maintain your functional capacity when you get old. Lifting also strengthens your heart, promotes blood circulation, boosts your metabolism, lowers insulin levels, burns more overall body fat, and improves digestion among other things-all these effects, you can gain from weight lifting without popping pills into your mouth. If these reasons aren't enough, then let me add that weight lifting boosts sex drive as well. ;)

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- Being more productive, having more energy to explore when traveling, being able to double the errands you run each and every single day, and carrying your child longer in your arms-weight lifting can give you all these. Lifting-aside from improving your health and physique-is designed to simply power up your daily life.

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- If you're fit, lean, and strong, you can knock down zombies, outrun them, and even save lives in between. (Just make sure that your cardio and conditioning skills are at par with your strength skills as well.)

There are tons and tons of reasons to lift weights, and these are just six reasons that made me love the bar and plates. Again, I urge you gals to lift and ditch all those myths about weight lifting-you'll never know how strong and capable you are unless you try. ;)

You know what's the one, universal truth that is absobloodylutely true? This:

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10 Lovely Thoughts

  1. Hi Martha! I'm an avid reader of your blog and also very much into weightlifting. I always look forward to your exercise posts as much as your beauty posts. Thank you so much for promoting weightlifting for women and for sharing your progress with us readers. You're such an inspiration :)

  2. I love your fitness posts. In a week how many times do you lift weights? I really have no idea how to have a schedule for lifting weights. I want to work on my abs, lower and upper body. Can you help me find an ideal schedule to squeeze in all of these?:)

  3. I also thought that weightlifting can make girls super huge. But one time, when we had an exercise in one of our PE sessions that includes weightlifting, one of the trainers said that weightlifting can build muscles, shaping the body to be sexy. :) I wanted to do it, but then the trainer advised me to gain weight muna. Haha. Because if not, I would be super thin. I really recommend this to friends. :)

  4. Finally!thank you for this post. It soooo bugs me when people especially guys laugh at me cause I lift and work out. They always ask why i do it do i wanna look like vina morales or some body builder? What the heck looking like vina morales is so hard to do! It annoys me to no end how uninformed people are when it comes to working out. And yes, i love lifting because it does not bore me. And no ladies looking ripped and fit and muscular does not take over night. It takes years!

  5. Thank you for this post, Martha! I've always thought lifting can make a woman's body too muscular, leaving a "pandesal" bump to the arms and legs. I kinda hate the thought of it so I never tried it. But now that I'm planning to work on my body so I can be fit and healthy, I will definitely try this! I always wanted to tone my arms, I think lifting would really help me a lot. Again, thanks Martha! :)

  6. I am too afraid to lift weights because I don't want to have those "man-like" muscles. Thank you for busting that myth Ms. Martha.

  7. One feature I liked about your blog is that you have variety of topics which keeps me reading. Lifting exercises does not make you huge, i agree with that because it makes your body firm!!!

  8. I've heard this myth a lot, and is mostly used to discourage people from going to the gym. It's really ridiculous because working out is good for the body. There is a proper way of doing it, which gym coaches are trained to train people in! Thanks for this article Martha as it helps in dispelling wrong beliefs!

  9. I LOVE THIS ARTICLE! <3 Last year, I took Weights Training for PE and it was so magical! I'm hoping to take it again even if it won't be counted in my transcript anymore. Personally, lifting and or H.I.I.T. > regular cardio (like running and jogging).

  10. Perks: Hello and glad to finally meet you! Thanks for this encouraging post. :) It always reminds me why I do what I do. :)

    Anonymous: Hi and welcome to my blog! I only do pure lifting once a week and that includes separate weights and body weight-the gym that I go to is not really conducive to pure lifting workouts. On conditioning days, I make it a point to include weights as well. :)

    What I would suggest is you exercise three times a week: One pure lower body day, one pure upper body day, and one total body workout. :) The abs, you can work it in those days too-just do core workouts as your finisher. :)

    Abegaill: Thanks, dear. :)

    Jessy: Hey, thanks! :) I love HIIT too! :)

    Pat: you're welcome! :)

    Eena: Hello and thank you for reading! :) I'm glad that this post has helped you out. :) Oh yes, weightlifting can really help tone your arms! :) Good luck!

    Hazel: my pleasure. :)

    Eloisa: Someone even told me that I'm not a man so I shouldn't lift weights. I felt my blood rush to my head when I heard that haha!

    Melanie: hear hear!


Thank you for your comments!