The Absence of Women in Weight Training

Although the presence of women in the weight room has increased in the last twenty years, there still appears to be a large gender divide. Celebrities such as Kim Kardashion, Cardi B, and Jennifer Lopez regularly show off ripped figures from the results of expensive trainers, and grueling workouts. Despite this onslaught of inspiration on social media, average working women are not following suit. In an article published by Fitness Magazine, “Why Aren’t More Women Lifting Weights?” author Sarah Richards interviews two working women in an attempt to dig deeper. 33-year-old venture capitalist Janelle states, “I know lifting weights is good for me, but I just can’t make myself do it on a consistent basis.” This uncertainty is echoed in Richards’ interview with Rachel Herod, a nurse in San Diego. Herod says, “I have no clue what to do with the weights, and I’m scared I’ll end up looking like a pro wrestler.” After conducting further research, Richards states that more than six million women have similar fears regarding weight training.

There is a commonality amongst gym-going women in their hesitancy to add weights into workouts. In an Evening Standard article titled “5 Common Reasons Why Women Don’t Want to Lift Weights” Annie Ross lists the reasons as: women feel out of place and self-conscious, they have no idea where to start, they don’t like people watching them, they have a fear of bulking up, and it looks too complicated. Both Janelle and Rachel’s fears are featured on this list, supporting Ross’ claims.

Answering the question, ‘why don’t women lift?’ paves the way to exploring the benefits of weight training. Benefits of adding weights into workouts is a common topic amongst both trainers and researchers. As discussed above, the majority of fears and hesitancy surrounding weights seems to stem from unfamiliarity with the equipment. This can easily be solved by working with a trainer, or following along a YouTube video, and building confidence in the weight room. Other fears, such as becoming too bulky can be debunked by William Kraemer, a professor of kinesiology who conducts research at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine. He states, "Women simply don't have the hormonal makeup to get as muscular as men.” Kraemer explains that combining weight training with cardio will produce a leaner looking figure as your strength increases. 

As well as achieving a leaner figure, other benefits to utilizing weights include improving muscle tone, bone density, athletic performance, and strength. Researchers explain that muscle burns three to four times more calories than fat. This means that adding two to four pounds of muscle to your figure can help you burn an extra 100 calories a day. Utilizing weights in your workouts also increases your metabolism by roughly 20 percent. This means that you will continue to burn calories for several hours after the workout.