Personal trainer Colin Ayliffe explains why weightlifting can be great training for women – and doesn’t have to mean bulking up
This is a common concern for many women. Most females avoid weights for fear of bulking up. Importantly, what we have to remember is that females have about 10 times less testosterone and far greater levels of oestrogen in their blood stream than males at all times, making muscle building (hypertrophy) very hard!
While it’s true that the main effect of weight training is hypertrophy, research shows that moderately heavy, low-repetition training increases a woman’s metabolic rate more than the light weight, high-repetition training that we are all familiar with. Unfortunately, practically every female fitness magazine article is based on the high repetition, high volume, bodybuilder-influenced approach. So it’s no wonder women aren’t happy with their strength training, especially when they are given bodybuilder routines by default.
So what’s the answer? Low volume, high intensity total body weight training sessions – use weights to build small amounts of muscle and burn lots of calories. Structure your weight training exercises in supersets of non-competing exercises (i.e., two exercises that don’t result in fatigue of the other) to get maximum results in minimum time.
You can also use bodyweight exercises in a circuit fashion to burn calories, boost metabolism and get improved fitness levels. These functional exercises transfer best to everyday activities. And don’t be afraid of changing your training programmes frequently – stick with a programme for no more than four weeks straight. Frequently changing your training variables will constantly demand your body to change, helping you get maximum results in minimum time.
Follow this plan and you will improve your body shape, boost your metabolism, burn more calories and fat at rest, and have no worries about becoming a female ‘Ah-nold.’