Resistance training provides numerous health advantages for women. While you may think of weightlifting as a traditional male exercise, this activity is beneficial for both sexes. Weightlifting is a strenuous activity that can lead to injuries. Protect your health by following basic safety precautions and consulting your doctor prior to beginning a new exercise routine.
Some types of resistance exercise use the weight of your own body to build muscles, while others often require the use of free weights and weight machines. Free weights include weighted discs and bars, known as dumbbells and barbells. This basic type of equipment allows you to add and remove weights to adjust the difficulty of your lifts. Weight machines often focus on individual muscle groups, helping you isolate the areas of your body you want to strengthen and improve. Both types of equipment require using safety measures to reduce your chances of injury.
Your goals for lifting weights may vary from your male counterparts. Weightlifting can help strengthen your bones and guard against osteoporosis, a weakening of the bones. While men may lift weight to gain muscle mass, women may want to focus more on toning and weight loss.
When beginning a weightlifting routine, take between 5 and 10 minutes to perform some warm-up moves. Brisk walking can help warm up cold muscles, helping to reduce your risk of injury. Before you begin using weightlifting equipment, familiarize yourself with the mechanics of each piece of equipment. Have a fitness instructor show you the correct way to use the machines and free weight bars and weights. Always have a trainer or a spotter nearby when lifting heavy weights above your body or your head.
MayoClinic.com recommends choosing a weight that allows you to perform 12 to 15 repetitions using good form. Increase the weight until you experience difficulty completing the final repetition. Add weight gradually as your strength and endurance improve. Remember to breathe during your lifts. Holding your breath can increase your blood pressure. Exhale as you lift your weight and inhale while you lower the weight.
Avoid overtaxing your muscles by resting each muscle group one or two days before performing more lifts using the same muscles. Wearing good shoes while lifting can provide traction and balance, helping you avoid injuries due to slipping. Don’t attempt to work through the pain. Pain is your body’s way of telling you to ease up. The American Pregnancy Association warns pregnant women with a history of pregnancy complications or miscarriage to avoid lifting weights without a doctor’s recommendations.