Weightlifting for Women: The Ultimate Guide

Weightlifting for Women: The Ultimate Guide

Weightlifting and strength training isn’t just for men. Sure, those gym advertisements filled with beefy, muscular guys may try to tell you otherwise, but this isn’t true at all. Women can — and do — lift weights. To build strength and achieve weight loss.

Although those weight benches and in-depth training programs may seem a bit intimidating to newcomers, it’s time to face your fears and start adding weight lifting to your gym routine.

Where should you start? What exercises should you do? You’ll find everything you need in My Fit Foods ultimate guide to weightlifting for women.

What Is Weight Lifting?

When you work out at the gym, you have your choice of two options: cardio or weight lifting. Cardio consists of getting your heart rate up in order to burn fat and strengthen your cardiovascular system. This is the type of workout that you perform on elliptical machines, treadmills, exercise bikes, and more.

Weightlifting involves using weights to create resistance against certain muscle groups, building them up in the process. You can do full-body lifting workouts or target a specific part of your body, such as your upper body or lower body, during a gym session.

When building your workout plan, you can choose to exercise your arm, leg, glutes, back, and ab muscles, doing different routines in order to build them up.

It’s important to do a combination of the two, as both cardio and weight lifting will help you meet your fitness goals.

What Are the Benefits of Weightlifting?

Why should you add weightlifting to your exercise routines? There are many benefits to this useful exercise, including:

Fat Loss and Lower Body Weight

Yes, you can lose weight and improve your overall wellness just by weightlifting. While you’ll definitely lose more weight via gym workouts that include a combination of cardio and lifting, spending some time on the weight bench alone can help you improve your body composition.

Any time that you’re burning calories, when paired with a healthy diet full of tasty meals, you’re improving your metabolism and losing body fat in the process.

Stress Relief

You can’t avoid it: Life is stressful.

However, not dealing with that stress in a healthy manner can lead to problems down the line, such as weight gain, heart disease, and more. Thankfully, there’s a solution that can help with your stress: weightlifting.

Any type of exercise can take your mind off of your issues and helps you forget about your stress for a while. Plus, there’s something to be said about the endorphin rush you get after exercise.

Lower Risk of Injury

How often do you accidentally injure yourself? For example, have you ever slipped on a mud puddle, caught yourself to keep from falling, only to hurt your back in the process?

With weightlifting, you won’t have to worry about that as much anymore. As your muscles get stronger and you start lifting heavier weights, you are less likely to injure yourself. You’ll be able to catch yourself mid-fall without pulling something.

Better Posture

On top of that, lifting heavy weights leads to better posture. Most of the time, when people slump in their seats or have a slight hunch in their lower back when they walk or stand, it’s because their muscles are weak.

When those back and torso muscles get stronger, thanks to your new weight regimen, you’ll have the ability to hold yourself upright longer, making your posture even more straight than it was before.

What Are the Types of Weights Used in Resistance Training?

Before you can incorporate weight lifting into your exercise routine, you first need to know what you’re getting into when you head to the gym to build some muscle mass. There are four main types of weights that you’ll use for your repetitions, including:

Weight Machines

If you don’t think you’re ready for free weights or just want a quick and simple weight lifting workout, head for the weight machines.

They’re easy to use, thanks to visual instructions listed on the machines themselves, and allow you to customize the weight that you want to use by placing a pin in the correct block. There are weight machines for just about every body part, each specializing in a certain one, such as lower legs, biceps, and so on.


A kettlebell is named after this weight’s shape. They look a bit like a tea kettle, with a round-ish profile and a handle on top.

They come in many different weights, with some weighing upwards of 50 pounds or more. They’re designed to be lifted with both hands, grasping the top handle, or with one hand at a time in order to get in a specific workout.


You’ve probably seen dumbbells before. They’re the free weights that have a hand hold in the middle, with a rounded or squared-off section on each end, connected by the hand hold. These weights come in a variety of options, from different shapes and sizes to various colors and weights.

Dumbbells are a great option for bicep curls and similar exercises. Even better, some dumbbells come in extremely light weights, like one pound, making them useful for holding when you’re on a treadmill and want to get a little more exercise in.


Plates are usually attached to a bar that’s lifted overhead, either from a sitting, standing, or lying position, in tandem with a weight bench. Each plate is a certain weight, and you can customize how much you want to lift by securing them to the bar.

However, you can also use a single plate by itself, turning them into a more customized workout experience.

What Are Some Helpful Weightlifting Tips?

When it comes to weightlifting, you need to be careful, regardless of your gender. If you haven’t lifted before, you’ll need to spend some time learning the correct moves and postures in order to target the areas of your body in which you want to build muscle.

Here are some things to keep in mind as you get started.

Start off Slow and Take Rest Days

Like with any new workout routine, you need to start off slow and work your way up to higher weights. We recommend this for several reasons.

For example, if you start off with weights that are too heavy, you could hurt yourself. You also might end up extremely sore the next day, which could make it less likely that you’ll go back and try it again.

Instead, take your time and ease into weightlifting, then incrementally increase your weights and number of reps. This way, you’ll get the bigger arms that you want, only in a gradual setting.

We also recommend taking rest days throughout the week as you build lean muscle. Exercises like bench presses and deadlifts can really wear you out, and even pro lifters take at least one day per week to rest and recover.

Work Out in a Group Setting

If you’re unsure of what the proper procedures or positions are, you could always work out in a group setting. A group weightlifting class (see if your gym offers one) is a helpful way to learn.

You’ll end up mastering the positions with a professional nearby, ready to adjust your grip or posture if necessary. You might even learn a new method of lifting as well.

Drink Plenty of Water

It’s crucial to stay hydrated when working out. This is as true for cardio as it is for weightlifting. You may not think lifting weights can dehydrate you like other forms of exercise, but it really can.

So, keep your water bottle on hand and don’t be afraid to fill it up. The more hydrated you are, the better you’ll feel during and after your workout.

Remember to Breathe

Breathing is a crucial part of weightlifting. If you attempt to lift something that’s a little too heavy for you, you have a tendency to breathe in but not out.

To get through a weightlifting workout in good shape, you have to focus on your breathing. Breathe in while lifting and out after you reach the apex.

Stretch Beforehand

Finally, you need to do some stretches before you start lifting weights. Loosening up your ligaments and muscles can prevent you from getting injured during your workout.

Do a full stretching routine beforehand, and spend some time cooling down afterward, much as you would before and after a cardio session.

This will prevent injuries and make your workout feel more worthwhile. Plus, you'll enjoy the process more.

Lifting Weights Doesn’t Make You Bulk Up

Contrary to what many women believe, lifting weights doesn’t make you bulk up — unless you want to, of course. Believe it or not, exercise is what you make of it!

Have questions about weightlifting or anything else for that matter? Contact us!


Recommendations for Physical Activity in Adults and Kids | American Heart Association

The Benefits of Weight Lifting for Women | VeryWellFit

The importance of stretching | Harvard Health