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I’ll let you in on a not-so-secret secret. In my humble opinion I think all women should start weightlifting.

Young women. Mums. Women who want to improve their performance in a sport or hobby. Women who just want to look better. Career women. Busy women. All women. I don’t care who you are, I know that weightlifting is one of the best activities you can do for you and here’s why.

1. Build Confidence and Surprise Yourself with Your Own Strength

So normally these kind of listicles save the best until last, but I just get too excited about sharing how fricking awesome weightlifting can make you feel.

Most women who have never properly tried weightlifting have no idea how strong they are. Women have so much untapped strength potential which more often than not we are too scared to explore thanks to unhelpful ideas on how we ‘should’ train. Terminology like ‘girl push-ups’ and the ‘girl barbell’ certainly don’t help this and can, quite frankly, GTFO. But once you move past this and get started on a properly designed, progressive training programme, I can guarantee you are going to have one hell of a surprise.

One of my favourite parts of being a personal trainer is when my clients, who all start off saying they’re not strong, they’re weak, they can’t lift weights, lift a weight they never believed they could. Seeing that dawning realisation that they are in fact a hidden little powerhouse is everything to me.

And this realisation brings an incredible boost of confidence with it. A confidence boost that soon seeps into every area of your life. Because you feel strong, and feeling strong makes you feel awesome and capable of anything.

2. Build That Rocking Bod You’ve Always Been After

Ok. No matter how much we argue it, deep down most of us are training for physique. I most certainly am and am proud of it! However you want to look at it, most of us women want to look better in our clothes, feel hotter than the molten sand on the beach in our bikinis, lose some excess fat, and get some Sir Mixalot worthy curves in the whole process. Feels like a tall order huh?

But. Not-so-secret secret number two: weightlifting is one of the best tools for ‘sculpting’ your dream body.

I know way too many women who rely entirely on cardio for transforming their bodies, and here’s the thing. They don’t get the results they’re after. I know, I did this for too long too. Cardio absolutely has its place, and I still do it at least twice a week, but my main focus is on weightlifting to help create that ultra-feminine curvy shape. Add good nutrition into the mix to help shed some excess fat and BAM you’ve got one hot bod just waiting to be unleashed.

So to be ultimate #TransformationTuesday goals, commit to a progressive training programme focusing on the main compound lifts. That’s deadlifts, squats, presses and rows. Each time you do a workout try to do a little better than last time, either adding more weight or increasing the amount of repetitions you do each set.

If you need a little help with your programming I’m totally here for that.

3. Stress Relief

We’ve all had those days right? You snoozed your alarm one too many times to then find the dog pooped in the middle of the kitchen floor (why is it yellow?!), someone cut in line in front of you at Starbies for you to then spill coffee on your shirt on the commute, and then John in marketing spends the morning meeting mansplaining your job to you. Again. Bloody John.

Seriously. It’s time to hit happy hour at your favourite bar. The barbell that is.

Forget everything that reared its ugly head at you during the day. It’s just you and the weights. And wow does it feel good pouring all your energy into just being the strongest you that you can be. I say it all the time and I mean it, exercise is supposed to be fun. It’s supposed to make you feel good. And the great thing about weightlifting is that when you’re trying to shift some heavy weight, you really can’t think about anything but that. It demands your entire focus. It demands your all. It’s your time. And trust me, nothing else in that moment is really going to matter.

4. It Breaks Down Stereotypes

How often have you heard that lifting is for guys huh? Or that women shouldn’t lift more than 3kg? (Seriously, Tracy Anderson, what is wrong with you?!)

I’ve heard it so many times now that honestly, if I eye roll over it one more time my eyeballs will actually just disappear into my brain. It’s so damn boring.

Repeat after me. You are strong. You are capable. And, with a little help from moi most likely will have better form that the majority of the bros in your gym.

The best thing about more women getting into weightlifting? Not only does it make you feel awesome, but it’s breaking down those stereotypes of exercise for men vs exercise for women. It shows young women that they can be more, rather than less. That they’re not limited in what they can do. That they can focus on something other than ‘skinny’ and a number on the scale. That exercise can be a positive and rewarding experience, not a torturous chore.

5. Shift Your Mindset

Ok, so I did save another pretty awesome one for last after all. One of the main reasons why I think all women should start weightlifting? Well it changes your whole approach to exercise and goal-setting.

Too often we focus on the scale. On losing weight. On burning a tonne of calories. On essentially starving ourselves silly. On working out so hard you’re walking like John Wayne for days after. It’s a mindset of punishment.

A proper weightlifting programme doesn’t rely on gruelling workouts and living on rabbit food and pretending you love your detox (sure you’re totes fine and not nearly fainting at all…) What matters is that over time you are consistent and you are progressing. Adding weight to the barbell or increasing your reps on that particularly tough overhead press are empowering goals that help you feel more than, rather than less.

So why not forget about going to the gym to burn as many calories as possible and instead set a performance-based goal? Trust me, if you’re aiming to and working towards squatting your bodyweight and deadlifting two times or getting your first unassisted chin up, you are going to see dramatic changes in your body composition.

Shift your mindset and focus on getting better and stronger and you’ll build a fitter, stronger, leaner body without even thinking about it.

There are so many more reasons why women should start weightlifting, but those are definitely my top motivators. And they should be more than enough to convince you to get started now. Right now. Go.