Weightlifting might make you think of clanking iron weights and racking up the #gains. But even if it seems like society wants you to believe lifting is a “masculine” practice, that’s not the case! Strength training is a great way for people of all genders to boost bone health and improve body mechanics.
If you’re looking to lose weight, lifting is also a top-notch option. Here’s how to incorporate weightlifting into your workout routine to reach your goals (and how to do it safely).
Can women use weightlifting for weight loss?
Definitely! Weightlifting can help you build muscle, and research shows that more muscles = more calories burned.
How do you make this work for you? Here are five tips to help you lose weight by lifting weights:
- Choose the right lifting style for your goals.
- Always aim for quality over quantity.
- Set realistic goals and don’t give up.
- Add cardio to your strength routine.
- Fuel your body with a nutritious, balanced diet.
Weightlifting can be hella intimidating if you’re new to fitness. But don’t worry, fam. We’ve got the scoop on how it’s done.
1. Choose the right lifting style for your goals
Compound lifts work multiple muscle groups at the same time. These workouts burn more calories in a shorter amount of time than isolation exercises.
Some examples of compound exercises are:
While you get more bang for your buck with compound exercises, isolation exercises are also super beneficial. They’re great if you want to focus on one specific muscle (like your pecs or biceps). Isolation exercises are also helpful in injury rehab.
Here are some examples:
- calf raises
- biceps curls
- lateral raises
- leg extensions
- hamstring curls
2. Always pick quality over quantity
Focus more on what you want to accomplish in your routine than on how long each workout takes. You can get better results from a shorter, intense workout than from one that’s longer but low quality.
Proper form is also super important. If you rush through an exercise or push past your limits, your form can get sloppy. This increases your risk of injury and can even decrease your workout results.
3. Set realistic goals and don’t give up
Folks who set weight loss targets might have better long-term success, according to a 2016 study. Just keep in mind that you’re not gonna go from 0 to Xena Warrior Princess overnight. And that’s OK!
“Start slow and don’t give up,” says female bodybuilder Alexis Donner. “It takes time, hard work, and consistency to meet fat loss/muscle-building goals.”
The most important thing is setting realistic targets. This can help you stay motivated throughout your training program. And if you do slip up, don’t be too hard on yourself.
“If you mess up with your diet or training one day, just go back on track the next day,” Donner says. “Don’t just give up altogether.”
4. Add cardio to your strengthening routine
Studies suggest that long-term weight loss results might be better when you combine cardio with strength training. Cardio can help you hit the calorie deficit needed to lose weight. You’ll burn more calories in a single session than you will doing strength training on its own.
BTW, you need to burn 500 to 1,000 calories more than you eat each day in order to lose 1 to 2 pounds in a week.
5. Fuel your body with a healthy, balanced diet
Studies suggest that eating protein (the macronutrient that acts as a building block for muscles) can help you get greater muscle gains and improve physical performance. But carbs and healthy fats are also essential energy sources.
Here are some delish protein picks to add to your strength training diet:
- nuts (like peanuts, almonds, or cashews)
- fish (like salmon, tuna, or tilapia)
- dairy (like milk, cheese, or yogurt)
Busting common misconceptions on weightlifting
There are lots of myths around women and lifting. So let’s set the record straight.
Myth: Women can’t build muscle mass.
Fact: A 2008 study found that men tend to build more muscle mass than women. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get gains. You can totally develop plenty of strong muscles.
Myth: Women need special protein powder.
Fact: Gender has nothing to do with the type of protein you should consume, whether it’s through food or a supplement. If you choose to use a supplement, stick to a wholesome protein product that isn’t loaded with artificial flavors or preservatives. You can find products that are gluten-free, low carb, keto-friendly, and more.
Myth: It’s all or nothing.
Fact: Weight loss is all about balance. Long-term success is tough if you banish your fave foods from your diet completely. You can still enjoy tasty treats in moderation.
Myth: Bulky women aren’t sexy.
Fact: This opinion is pure poop. The only thing that matters is how you feel about your body.
You don’t need to be a 24/7 gym rat to reap the benefits of weightlifting.
“Strength training can be split up into working certain muscle groups so your whole body is not sore all at once,” Donner says.
Here’s a sample routine for beginners:
- Monday: back and biceps
- Tuesday: chest and triceps
- Wednesday: legs and calves
- Thursday: off
- Friday: abs and shoulders
- Saturday: off
- Sunday: off
Donner suggests that beginners start with a 30- to 35-minute workout. Try to choose weights that allow you to perform 3 sets of 10 repetitions for each exercise. Take short 30- to 40-second rest periods between sets. She also recommends performing 25 minutes of cardio 4 times a week.
Remember, these are general guidelines. It’s a good idea to see a certified personal trainer who can offer a personalized plan for your goals and needs.
Here are some other weight loss tips to help you hit your goals:
- Drink more water. H2O reduces your risk of dehydration and may help prevent muscle fatigue.
- Cut refined carbs. Stick to complex carbs like vegetables, quinoa, barley, legumes, and whole grains. They will keep you feeling fueled and full much longer than simple carbs (like white bread, white pasta, white rice, cookies, and cakes).
- Practice mindful eating. This isn’t a diet plan. Rather, it’s a healthy approach to eating that can change the way you think about food. It can help you recognize your body’s hunger cues and can make meals more enjoyable.
- Be kind to yourself. Studies show that internalized stigma surrounding weight is associated with poorer weight loss results. But remember, results take time. Try to be patient with the process and treat yourself with kindness. You deserve it ❤️.
Weightlifting is a great way to strengthen and tone your body. It can also help you lose weight, especially when combined with a healthy diet and cardio program.
But always talk with your doctor before making major changes to your diet or fitness routine, especially if you have any health conditions that could be affected.