The gym is one of the best places for women to unwind, relax, and gain confidence, all the while making themselves healthier.
Yes, the gym is the best place for a woman to be able to truly express herself and show off how powerful she truly is, whether that’s on the treadmill, elliptical, or even on the weight rack.
Many women today are learning just how beneficial it is to lift at the gym, including doing exercises such as the squat, bench press, and deadlift.
The average woman has the ability to lift quite a bit of weight, depending on several factors including training, existing strength, and natural ability.
The average woman can deadlift around 100 to 125 percent of her own body weight.
The strongest woman in America, Becca Swanson, deadlifted a whopping 683 pounds, meaning no feat is too large or too impossible for women.
Ah yes, the popular meme that took the world by storm circa 2011. What does it mean to “lift,” or what does it mean when people tell you, “Do you even lift, bro?” This meme actually has to do with deadlifting.
Deadlifting is a type of weightlifting exercise in which a barbell is placed on the ground in front of you. To do a proper deadlift:
- Bend down so that your shins are pointed straight and your kneecaps do not go past the barbell.
- Have the barbell as close to your shins as possible.
- Put your hands on the barbell on either side of it. Some people prefer an overhand approach, where one hand is grasping the top of the bar while the other is allowing the bar to lay on the palm of the hand facing upward.
- Lift the bar off the ground while putting weight into the back of your heels. Wearing shoes that are easy to feel the ground in is much better for this than traditional tennis shoes.
If deadlifting sounds a bit simple, that’s because it truly is a simple exercise.
However, this is an exercise that helps tone various parts of the body and increase strength in these groups, including:
- Leg muscles
- Core muscles, also known as your abs
- Back muscles, especially the lower back
Because this exercise uses multiple muscle groups, it is also known as a compound exercise and is one of the core lifting techniques for strength training.
There are other types of lifts besides deadlifts that are also considered compound exercises and that exercise multiple groups of muscles at once.
These are also considered lifts, and they include:
- Squats – Squats can be done safely with someone’s own body weight or with a long barbell. When done with a long barbell, the barbell will be sitting on top of a rack that a woman will put her shoulders under. She can then move with the barbell backward, and then proceed to squat by bending down with her knees. The squat movement involves squatting down without having the knees go past the toes, then using the gluteus muscles to lift the weight of the barbell back up. This is, again, a simple exercise, but one that has fantastic results for growing the gluteus and strengthening the hamstring muscles.
- Bench Press – The bench press is another type of lift that is done using the arms and shoulders. To perform a bench press, someone will lay down on a bench, with a barbell supported over the top of their chest. To perform the bench press, someone will grab this barbell in the horizontal position, using their shoulders and chest to push the barbell up and down repeatedly, then placing it back on the rack. The bench press is deceptively easy, but it is one exercise that can cause serious damage if someone lets go of the barbell. The barbell can easily fall on the neck, causing injury.
All of these exercises can be performed successfully with the right training. They can be done by both men and women and all have incredible health benefits for women.
Being able to participate in weightlifting at least twice per week for 60 minutes a day can have a good number of health benefits, both physically and emotionally.
Some of the many benefits of lifting and strength training for women include:
- Lower body fat percentages
- Regulated blood sugar levels, which can help prevent insulin resistance and is excellent for people with prediabetes or diabetes
- Mixing cardio and strength training all in one, since the heart rate does go up during these compound movements. Evidence shows that weightlifting is actually good for cardiovascular health.
- Burn calories throughout the day, since you’re activating your muscles and allowing them to burn up stored fat, allowing you to lose weight quicker.
- Get rid of cortisol, a stress hormone, which can lead to belly fat and is dangerous to health. Getting rid of cortisol allows women to feel more relaxed and able to handle stress better.
Some women might still think that lifting will make them bulky or make them appear like traditional bodybuilders.
While we think all bodies are beautiful, it’s also important to note that building muscle takes an incredible amount of training to accomplish.
Not only do you need to increase your caloric intake by several thousand calories per week, but you must also follow a strict diet while lifting.
Fortunately, simple lifting techniques won’t lead to muscle gains overnight, and they are a safe and effective way of helping you trim down on body fat.
Studies have shown that women can only lift a fraction of what men can lift, to no fault of their own.
There are many reasons for this, including women having significantly more body fat percentage than men.
This body fat can make it difficult to form new, leaner muscle, and have muscles that properly function to lift.
Nevertheless, it’s important to keep in mind that anatomically, women will naturally lift lower weights than men, so don’t get discouraged if you’re new to a gym and see men around you lifting more.
One study showed that women lift, on average:
- 69% to 79% of what men can deadlift
- 65% to 76% of what men can squat
- 60% to 70% of what men can bench press
Nevertheless, with a little bit of patience, it is possible to improve a woman’s ability to lift through a concept known as progressive overload.
With progressive overload, a woman can continue to add weight to the barbell she is using to deadlift, squat, and bench press.
After getting comfortable with one weight, she can then add more while also doing repetitions at her maximum weight potential.
This method can help women be stronger and lift more over time. Although it does take dedication and training, you can easily improve your lifting.
To start to improve your lifting, below are a couple of tips to help:
- Have a spotter on hand to help you. A spotter is someone who can help give you that extra push when you need additional support during your lifts. They can also help ensure you’re safe and keep an eye out to make sure your barbell is level and secure.
- Keep a consistent training schedule. When it comes to lifting, you do need to give your muscles time to rest, but also need to work to actively shock them and continue to tear the muscle fibers. Sounds like it hurts, but it’s the natural way for muscles to grow bigger, while you get to cut down on body fat.
- Go slow. When it comes to progressive overload, it isn’t necessary to add 20 or 30 pounds to your sets. Stick to 5 or 10 pounds at a time, and this will make a difference.
- Pay attention to your diet. If you want to lift in order to lose weight, you will still need to eat at a calorie deficit. On the other hand, if your goal is to get bigger and gain muscle mass, you will need to eat clean protein and meals heavy with calories.
For the average woman, a woman with a weight of around 140 pounds can start by squatting a barbell weighing around 145 pounds.
However, if you are uncomfortable at all, it’s never a bad idea to start off with an empty barbell, which can itself weigh around 50 pounds.
Starting off with a lighter weight will allow a woman to feel comfortable and perfect her form.
Having good form is incredibly important when lifting and squatting. This is another area where a spotter or personal trainer can help.
For a 140-pound woman, it’s relatively safe to deadlift around 130 to 190 pounds.
This will depend on her form, whether or not she’s using the proper muscles to lift, and her general strength.
For the deadlift, it’s important to put the focus on using your glutes and legs while lifting, instead of your back.
Not only will you not be able to lift as much otherwise, but you also run the risk of seriously injuring yourself!
To help minimize the risk of injury, consider buying a weight belt.
This is a belt that wraps around your waist and helps steady your core, so you don’t use your lower back muscles to lift.
You can also start off at a minimal 100 pounds and work your way up during the deadlift.
Everyone’s strength is different, and it’s no secret that men will have an easier time lifting than women.
However, the average woman can still lift quite a bit of weight while squatting, bench pressing, or deadlifting.
As long as you stick to a dedicated gym routine and have support, you can successfully improve your lifting abilities over several weeks.