Guest Post, Healthy Living How To: Women and Weights

If you haven’t yet heard, Wednesdays are our Guest Blogger Series day! It’s a day where Matt and I get a bit of a mid-week break while getting to share with you some of our favorite online bloggers.  And for their hard work, they get the benefit of your readership – we encourage you to please show all of them your support by visiting their blog and social media links at the end of this post!

This week our guest is Vanessa Romero from the blog Healthy Living How To! We became aware of her work after making one of her terrific recipes, but fell in love with her because of the variety of topics she covers on her blog. We got a chance to meet her and her husband on the Low Carb Cruise this year and found her to be just as warm and genuine in real life as she we thought she would be. We even got to race with her and, as expected, we won! In this post she answers all your questions about weight training and why women should do it!

When it comes to women and weight training, there is much confusion. In my years as a personal trainer, the common concerns women have in the weight room are universal. Women want to be lean and fit yet fear getting big and bulky. As a result they lift light weights doing toning exercises that have little to no impact on their metabolism. Or worse yet, they steer clear of weight room altogether, favoring the cardio machines and group fitness classes. If this is you, keep reading as I answer five of the most common questions women have regarding weight training.

  1. How much weight should I use?Put away the pink dumbbells my lady friends, as research shows heavier weights not only increase muscular strength but also decreases body fat more than using light weights. If you’ve been led to believe that using light weight and doing a lot of reps will “tone”, it is simply not true. When you are new to strength training, you will find yourself getting stronger very quickly. If you want to get stronger, healthier and leaner, you need to continually challenge your muscles. This means doing one more rep, adding more weight or resting less from workout to workout.


  2. Won’t I get big and bulky?To be honest, I am surprised this fear is still alive and well. Unless you are training specifically for bulk and have the hormones necessary to build bulk, you will not get big and bulky from weight training. The two hormones largely responsible for increasing muscle mass are testosterone and growth hormone. Guys produce large amounts of testosterone and growth hormone which is why when men lift weights they get bulky. Us women, on the other hand, we produce estrogen, it’s what gives us our curves as well as the fat padding on our hips, thighs, butt and backs of the arms. Like, men, we do produce testosterone and growth hormone but to a much lesser extent. In fact, women produce less than 10% of the amount of testosterone that men produce.


  3. Why do I want to get stronger?As we lady folk age, osteoporosis and decreased bone density is inevitable if we don’t provide the stimulus necessary to maintain or build bone density. That stimulus is progressive weight training. I’m not talking about wimpy weights and tricep exercises though, in order to substantially increase bone density, women should be squatting, lunging, and deadlifting with heavy weights.


  4. What kind of weight training should I do?If you are like most of the female clients I have trained over the years, you probably run a tight schedule. The time you allow yourself in the gym should be maximized to your advantage. The biggest bang for your metabolic buck comes from full-body weight training workouts that use basic lifts such as squats, deadlifts, pushups, rows and shoulder presses as well as their variations. A full-body workout uses these exercises in a fashion that works the major muscles in the legs, chest, back and shoulders. I have seen great results in as little as two to three 45 minute workouts a week. Of course those results are dependent on your nutritional choices outside the gym as well.


  5. Why can’t you just give me a workout?There are many basic full-body weight training routines you can find on the internet, in books and magazines. However, these workouts are just that, very basic. If you are a female, who has no experience lifting weights with little understanding of body mechanics, it is in your best interest to invest in at least a session or two with a fitness professional. A good fitness professional will not only assess how your body moves, but teach you proper form as well as work with you on a program that is designed to get you to your goal of a healthy and fit physique.





About the Author: Vanessa Romero, owner of Healthy Living How To, is a healthy living enthusiast with a background in Personal Training, Metabolic Testing and Weight Loss. Her passion is to help others achieve optimal health through a wellness approach that encompasses living healthy in mind, body and spirit.

Copyright © 2012 Vanessa Romero, Healthy Living How To

This article is not intended for the treatment or prevention of disease, nor as a substitute for medical treatment, nor as an alternative to medical advice. Use of recommendations in this and other articles is at the choice and risk of the reader.

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  • Stacy & Matt, thank you for the opportunity and exposure to your blog audience! I am more than happy to answer any questions your readers may have on this topic of Women & Weights.

    • Nathalie

      I really liked this article for allaying the fears of getting too bulky. Do you have any recommendations for a type 1 diabetic specifically trying to lose weight? I also have hypothyroidism, and I’ve always had a hard time losing weight.

      • Hi Nathalie. The key to weight loss is proper nutrition! Weight training is your insurance policy….it insures you are losing bodyfat and not precious muscle.

    • Natasha Garcia

      What might you suggest for someone who cannot bear to put weight down on the balls of each foot? I have been suffering with an injury in both feet for three years and my body is now over 50% fat! Even with a pristine diet (paleo autoimmune protocol) I am still having a hard time with weight loss. I know that is at least in part due to my high body fat percentage… but I don’t know how to get a good routine going with my feet mucking things up for me. (We have heavy weights here in the house from doing P90X – no gym membership).

      I should also mention that I am working my my doctor to resolve adrenal fatigue as well.

      I love your blog Vanessa and admire you greatly… I would appreciate any advice you could offer. Thanks!

      • Hi Natasha…for someone with your limitations, a gym membership would be very beneficial. If I were your trainer, I would take advantage of cable machines (where you can be seated) and perhaps the pool as well. It would take some creativity, but not impossible. Thank you for your kind words and readership. Was any sort of physical therapy recommended after your injury?

        • Natasha Garcia

          Sadly no. The doctors can’t even seem to pinpoint the cause of the injury. They think possible Morton’s Neuroma or Metatarsalgia. They ran a million tests, deemed me partially permanently disabled, and never put me in physical therapy for it. (All done through Worker’s Comp.). That’s why I started doing the paleo autoimmune protocol and seeing my own doctor.

          The doctor I am seeing now is more a naturopathic doctor and he has OK’d 20 mins of cycling 3x per week along with my daily slow walks (I make it about 1/2 mile without too much pain and I don’t really walk ‘properly’ because I don’t let my weight go onto the balls of my feet). As of yet, he thinks too much strength training might be too hard on my adrenals. I guess I am wondering what to do now because I want to be ready and know what to do when the time comes – I am eager to be out of this sick and broken body!

          Sadly, my injury prevents me from driving and it’s hard to get to a gym (my husband who works has to do all the driving). I do have access to a pool… but I am a miserable swimmer who gets ear infections at the drop of a hat if any water gets in my ears.

          I am a difficult case! lol. Thank you so much for your reply <3

  • Svetatil

    I agree with “get bulky”. I have been lifting heavy weight for last 3 years. Competed in NPC figure. And I didn’t get bulky. But sure I got some very nice muscle definitions.  It take a lot of all kind supplements and other stuff to become a Hulk-like woman.
    And I can hear about this fear every time when I mention that I workout with heavy weights. Heavy, I mean heavy ones. I do my leg press with 520 lbs, and if you look at my legs you would never ever say it – I am a little woman with pants size 4.

  • Great post 🙂   As a female who has focused on heavy weightlifting as my workout of choice for the past several years, I am constantly trying to explain these same points to my lady friends and family members. Thanks for help spreading the good word!

  • I love the point about weight training helping to increase bone mineral density! After a lifetime of malabsorption (when I lived a dairy and gluten-filled life), I’m very concerned about the possibility of developing osteoporosis. Now that I’ve figured out how to eat — and actually absorb nutrients — I’m thrilled to add heavy lifting to my fitness routine to help build up my bones. Thanks for the great guest post and for spreading the word about women and weights!