As I walk into the Well Gym every day, I observe those around me. I witness 85 - 90% of men weightlifting vs. the 10% of women. I view many women on the treadmill, biking, and participating in core exercises. It crosses my mind, “Why is it such a huge split from guys vs. girls as it relates to weightlifting?
Oftentimes, I hear the misconception from women that their fear of becoming “too bulky” or “man-like” hinders them from touching a weight. Many women around campus I have communicated with are afraid of weightlifting with incorrect form.
The Department of Health and Human Services recommends receiving at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity a week, or a combination of both. Weightlifting is a great source of anaerobic, intense activity that can empower both the physical and mental well-being of an individual.
Evidence supports strength training increases muscular strength and power, bone density, and physical functional abilities such as improved balance and reduction in the number of falls among older adults. For diabetics, it improves glycemic control and insulin resistance as well as lowering blood pressure. In addition, strength training can improve cognition including working memory, cognition flexibility, concentration, and the speed of processing information.
I’m a huge advocate for exercise as it pertains to mental illness and health. In 2019, an estimated 17.3 million adults in the United States had a least one major depressive episode. Anxiety disorders affect 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older, or 18.1% of the population every year. Evidence supports that strength training such as weightlifting improves anxiety and depressive symptoms in individuals. Mental illness can be treated effectively through drug therapy and psychological treatments, but exercise can be a less costly treatment for individuals and have largely positive benefits.
I want to empower women to believe that strength training is not just a masculine exercise. It has significant importance in improving physical and mental health. The idea of becoming “man-like” and “bulky” is not true. The way the Lord made a woman’s body builds muscle in a different way than men. Men carry higher levels of testosterone than women. Unless a woman is wanting to become a bodybuilder, the mindset of becoming big and bulky should not be the source of what is holding them back from weightlifting. It hinders all the benefits that strength training exercise could have in their lives.
Our identity lies in the Lord. He calls us children of God. We should not be caught up in looking a certain way to fit our expectation of perfection because the Lord has already called us beautiful in his image. I believe in the importance of taking care of our bodies in a way of service to the Lord.
Weightlifting can empower women to feel strong and beautiful. Weightlifting allows one to increase muscular strength, lose body fat, improve cognition, and is a great way to enhance one’s self-esteem. Along with aerobic exercise such as running and biking, strength training has massive benefits and aiming for two to three days a week of muscular strength exercise can help improve someone’s overall health.
I hope one day I can walk into Taylor’s gym and witness 50/50 men and women in the gym weightlifting; that would be a GAME CHANGER.