Females and Free Weights: Don’t Be Afraid, Ladies!

When you walk into the gym and take a look around at any given time of the day there are very few women lifting weights. Of those few, there is usually only one or two in the dungeon of dumbbells and barbells. Many women think that all that iron is for men and think they are better off using the machines. Others are embarrassed or too shy to enter the area…feeling that the boys will be snickering at their attempts. However, I’ve found that quite the opposite is true. Men admire the confidence and strength of a woman in the weight room but more importantly free weights can be more beneficial to your training efforts.

Let’s take look at this. Free weights are constant resistance devices. This means that no matter how many times you lift that dumbbell it will remain the same weight. Sports scientists believe that training with constant resistance is more natural and effective in the grand scheme of things because it is closest to the way the human body works. Consequently, in every natural movement the body uses more than one muscle. Some assist in the movement of the resistance but others help control the pattern of movement and act as stabilizers of the body or limbs. This is done naturally in order for the main muscle working to act more efficiently.

Think about a standing bicep curl. As you lift the dumbbell all of your stabilizer muscles in your trunk and legs are working in all directions to maintain balance. Additionally, muscles in your arms are working to keep your wrists straight, elbows in a fixed position, and helping to control rotation of the forearm. Even from a sitting position your body is still trying to maintain balance and control form. Now, think about picking up a gallon of milk in the same manner or your son out of the high-chair…do you see the similarities in the natural movement and stability?

Machines in this respect have their disadvantages. Regardless of design, they direct the movement pattern for you and the surrounding muscles These are the muscles that would normally help balance or stabilize the movement and unfortunately are taken out of play. Without the added stress to the smaller synergistic (helper) and stabilizer muscles it can greatly inhibit them from becoming bigger, stronger, or more enduring.

Other aspects of fitness are achieved more efficiently through the use of free weights such as:

  • Increase in size
  • Body Fat Reduction
  • Flexibility
  • Muscle Toning
  • Improvements in power

Therefore, free weight training can greatly increase your overall fitness goals, whatever they may be. That being said, we should still lend respect to machines. There are several exercises that can not be performed with free weights and can only be performed through the use of a machine. This is why most professional athletes and bodybuilders tend to use a mix of free weights and machines in their workout regimen. However, exercise scientists and practitioners still agree that the dumbbell and barbell are superior in weight training technology.

So, Ladies! I know the sounds of weights hitting the floor can be intimidating and the man grunts can sometimes be a little scary but it’s not as bad as you perceive. Most men are courteous and will step aside when you need them to. They aren’t as mean as they look (even that heavy weight with arms the size of your 6 year olds head…). Inevitably they might stare a little but be proud of yourself. The main thing to remember is to respect them and they will respect you. It’s that simple. Eventually, you’ll start rotating in and sharing equipment…you’ll see! So, get in there and do your body a favor…train with free weights!

And as always…Eat Right and Train Hard.

“Prescribe Your Own Health”

The Prescription Nutrition Team

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