Women & Weight Lifting - Unnatural Enemies

By: Aaron Vasquez

Part of my warm-up routine at the gym involves asking my girlfriend if she might like to get off the elliptical machine and lift weights with me. "No way," she answers invariably, "I don't want to get big." I never really gave her response much thought until recently, when I began to see it as part of a larger pattern- I have a number of female friends, and every one of them avoids the weight room like I avoid chick flicks and shoe stores. Oh, they all go to the gym- but not a single one would pick up a weight unless her life depended on it.

The more I thought about it, however, the less profound this trend seemed; ever since the early days of Muscle Beach, the weight room has been synonymous with grunting, muscle-bound guys and their perfectly-shaped and sometimes frightening female counterparts- not exactly an inviting place for the casual-exercising woman. I'm even frightened by some of the people in the weight room, and I'm not a small guy. But if you take the intimidation factor out of the equation, most women my age still refuse to do any type of weight training. I decided that I needed to dig deeper to find the root of the problem.

I thought hard about my girlfriend's response- it seemed to me that her only objection to lifting weights was that she wanted to remain bulk-free. I didn't blame her for that, but I also knew that she didn't really understand how much work it takes to build any kind of muscle. Being somewhat of an amateur bodybuilder, muscle gain is my top priority at the gym, and I focus just about all of my free time and energy on it outside of the gym. I eat five meals a day, taking in almost 3000 calories in an effort to pack on the pounds, as well as training 5 or more days a week. Any gains I see are slow and small, and if I ever decided I was getting too big, I could easily tone down my training and eating. Aside from occasionally polishing off a pint of Ben & Jerry's, my girlfriend eats next to nothing, and she's certainly not the one grunting to push out that last rep at the bench press station.

Normally I wouldn't care that my girlfriend didn't want to do something I liked- she can do, or not do, anything she pleases- but what upsets me is that she's depriving herself of a great form of exercise without a great reason for it. Weight training has been proven to have all sorts of positive effects on your body- it increases your metabolism and elevates your body's levels of euphoria-inducing endorphins. It also improves strength and bone density- not to mention that it helps you to look and feel great. Even running or doing other cardiovascular activities will not give you the same kind of benefits that weight training can. There really is no reason not to train with weights if you're going to do any sort of exercise.

I have since sat down with my girlfriend and assured her that lifting weights would not turn her into the next Chyna. After a long talk and a little bit of pleading, I convinced her to lift with me at the gym the next day. She was initially very reluctant, but she eventually got a feel for the different exercises, and is now into the habit of lifting a little bit in every workout. She reports to me constantly how much better she feels, and regrets not getting started with weights sooner. She has since lost weight and gained some great muscle tone. All her friends notice a difference in her, too, and sure enough, they've all started their own weight training programs.

Now when we're at the gym, my girlfriend bugs me to get off the treadmill and lift with her! With my girlfriend swearing by weights, I consider my own mission accomplished. I know that weight training may not appeal to everyone, but to any skeptics out there, I urge you to try it for a few months and see the huge change it can bring to your body, your attitude, and yourself. You won't regret it!

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