‘How Lifting Weights Has Helped Me to Feel Better, Both Physically and Mentally’

women strength training benefits

One of the most constant, and pervasive, myths about women and training is the fact women are afraid of lifting weights.

There’s a reason it constantly has footing — because it’s true. Women don’t like partaking in weight lifting. In fact, the American College of Sports Medicine says only 20% of women were engaging in resistance training two or more times per week.

And yes, even our government is on board with these facts too. According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, women and older people are less likely than men and younger people to be doing sufficient muscle-strengthening activities — and only 4 out of 10 are actually doing the recommended amount of muscle-strengthening activities anyway.

If you’re wondering what the recommended amount of muscle-strengthening activities is? Yeah, it’s only twice a week.

The thing about weight training, as a woman, is it will not bulk you up, or make you look manly — a gender-based stigma that one study reported is still going “strong”. Pun intended.

What it will do for you, however, and this is backed by science, is help with your physiological, psychological and social health. Another study also found its impact on body image — yes, it improves it.

And, very importantly, a third study found that strength training “significantly reduces depressive symptoms.” And as you know, if you’re one of the people who have ever read an article I’ve written — depression is something I struggle significantly with, day in and day out.

Recently, I was given the opportunity to try six weeks of strength training, guided by a Fitness First personal trainer, Patrice — someone who is well versed in both physical and mental strength.

I’d done the strength training with a PT prior, around five years before, but had fallen out of love with it — which turned to dread, and then fear. Needless to say, I definitely wasn’t undertaking the amount of strength training our government recommends.

After six weeks, one day a week — Monday mornings, before I even had the chance to know what hit me — I’m no longer scared of weights. More than this, I’m actually doing them at the gym.

And even more than that, I have genuinely felt better, physically and mentally. Over the last few weeks, I’ve done additional strength training, along with the 12-3-30 TikTok workout, and swimming. The last time I went to the gym five days in one week was…probably five years ago, the last time I was strength training like this.

I’ve had more energy — and I’m notorious for poor sleep and lack of energy — and I’ve been mindlessly snacking less (sometimes, mainly at home where there aren’t chocolate bunnies remnant from Easter).

The only strength training I could boast prior to this was picking up my nephew (he’s 3). Oh, and once I managed to push my old roommate’s boyfriend down the hall and out of our house, where I promptly locked him out and wouldn’t let him back until he’d brought me chocolate from the corner store (he was 6″2 so yes, I was impressed with myself).

Now, I can do leg presses of 64kg. I’ve deadlifted more than half my weight. I can hip thrust 50 kilos (a good butt is important to me). These numbers may be small and insignificant to some, but to me, and to my mental health, they’re so important. They’re such an achievement.

Oh, and most importantly? I passed the TikTok cake challenge.

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