Even today, gender stereotypes and the fear of becoming “big” and masculine keep many women from the gym. However, if combined with a healthy and balanced diet, weight training is essential to promote and maintain psychophysical health and improve body composition (and therefore reduce fat). Said like this, it seems simple, but how do you need to train to obtain these advantages? In which direction should nutrition and diet go? Let’s see these aspects in detail.
Are Women And Weights In The Gym Compatible?
If you’re reading this article, you associate weight training with images of doped female bodybuilders with overdeveloped muscles. Reaching that level is practically impossible if you don’t take performance-enhancing substances. This is because women have 10 times less testosterone than men, making building muscle mass long and difficult. However, resistance training is essential because it allows you to:
- improve body composition ( gain muscle and reduce fat ) and basal metabolic rate ( burn more calories at rest );
- improve bone density by reducing the risk of osteopenia and osteoporosis ;
- maintain cardiovascular health and reduce the risk of diabetes II.
To obtain all these benefits, you must use stimulating loads, be constant, and follow a balanced diet that is functional to your goal. You can use even heavy loads to build muscle mass and abandon the much-loved anklets because you won’t become a man.
What Physique Can A Woman Get In The Gym?
If your training program and diet are correct, you can achieve a strong, functional, athletic, and performing physique. Gender stereotypes probably cause you to underestimate your weightlifting abilities. Even if women have less strength than men (70-75% in the lower limbs and 40-60% in the upper limbs), this does not exempt them from being able to train with barbells and dumbbells to obtain a toned body. If you choose to train against resistance, in addition to the aesthetic benefits, you will also have benefits in everyday life :
- Less joint pain.
- Less difficulty lifting or holding your children.
- More energy to carry out all the activities that compete for you.
Don’t forget, however, that the aesthetic result you want to achieve must be compatible with your genetics and not with the images you’ve seen on social media.
What Is The Right Workout For Women In The Gym?
The best approach is to combine weight-bearing exercise with cardiovascular exercise to improve health. Resistance training is essential both from an aesthetic and functional point of view and must include both upper and lower limb training. Training only and always your legs hoping to improve their aesthetics can be counterproductive, especially if you accumulate water retention and cellulite in your lower limbs. When you train, you must therefore take into account your biotype, which can be:
- android (apple shape): you accumulate fatty tissue in the abdomen, upper limbs, and breasts;
- ginoid (pear shape): accumulation of fatty tissue on the hips, thighs, and buttocks;
- mixed: you have characteristics common to both previous biotypes.
If you are gynoid, you can implement some strategies to avoid worsening the inflammatory state of the legs :
- When sitting in the gym, first train the legs and then the arms to avoid the stagnation of toxins in the lower limbs or alternate an exercise for the legs with one for the arms to promote blood circulation (PHA training);
- Avoid doing too many lactation workouts (burning sensation or heaviness in the legs) because they acutely increase fluid stagnation;
- Do not overdo it with cardio because it could increase cortisol with worsening of the inflammatory state of the lower limbs. Choose walking over high-impact activities to stimulate the structures in the foot that facilitate venous return.
If you are an android subject, you don’t have particular inflammatory problems, so you can afford to work more intensely on your legs. Finally, if you are mixed, you must consider the previous biotypes’ precautions by adapting them to you.
Effective Nutrition And Diet For Women In The Gym
As you have just read, following a restrictive and low-calorie diet for a long time can be counterproductive in terms of health and physical performance. If you want to progress in the gym, you must give your body enough energy. This means that you can follow any diet that makes you feel good. The important thing is that there is the right balance between macro and micronutrients and that the amount of calories introduced covers your daily requirement.
Carbohydrates, fats, and proteins are essential for maintaining psychophysical, hormonal health and building muscle mass, as well as vitamins and minerals. Drastically reducing one or more of these nutrients can lead to long-term health issues and therefore reduced progress in the gym. The food approaches are endless, but currently, the diet that is among the best in terms of long-term health is the Mediterranean one. According to the latter, the ratio of macronutrients is as follows:
- 55-60% carbohydrates
- 25-35% fat
- 10-15% protein.
The proportions between macronutrients can vary about the goal you want to achieve. For example, if you need to lose weight, you can choose different approaches: a 2009 study considered 811 overweight subjects and subjected them to 4 different diets, manipulating macronutrients differently.
What Are The Most Effective Exercises For Women In The Gym?
To improve from an aesthetic and functional point of view, the best exercises are free body exercises with barbells or dumbbells (squat, deadlift, hip thrust, flat bench, slow forward, lunges, etc.) and isotonic machines (lat machine, leg press, etc.). Including complementary and isolation exercises to work on the most deficient muscle groups is also good. Don’t forget that to avoid injury. Your technique must always be clean.
Also Read: Physical Activity: Why Is It Important?