“Gymtimidation” is real, especially at Penn State which is overflowing with “gym bros.” According to ACEfitness.org, “gymtimidation” is defined as “feelings of insecurity or feeling threatened by others in the same gym space who may be in a better-perceived state of physical health.”
Women have heard time after time “if you lift weights you’ll get bulky” and most of the time it’s said like it’s a bad thing. However, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with being strong, but a perceived “bulky” physique is something that steers away women from heavy lifting. This is prominently due to society drilling the idea that women have to have a smaller build.
With that being said, weightlifting for women has been a troubling area of fitness. Lifting is a male dominated workout, deterring women from feeling confident to enter the space. Nevertheless, recently more women have been getting into lifting and throwing that stigma down the drain.
Block the Noise
Walking into a gym or feeling “gymtimidation” is natural. The first step is to block the noise, remember that everyone feels this way and many are thinking soley of themselves. Even when you think people are judging you, 99% of the time, they’re not.
Form is first and foremost. Ensuring you have correct form while lifting is important to avoid injury. During a workout, know which muscle group you want to target.
If you’re performing a squat, you want the squat to attack your quads or glutes. Use those muscles and engage your core instead of putting all the weight into your lower back. If you feel like your back hurts when squatting heavy weights, you might want to adjust your form.
Below is a video that acts as a guide to showcase proper form in certain exercises!
Reps Until Failure
It’s crucial to select a weight that allows for muscle growth while maintaining proper form. Avoid lifting excessively heavy weights where you can’t complete more than three reps with proper form. Aim for a minimum of least 3-4 sets of the 8-10 essential reps. If you can’t get past 8 reps using a specific weight, you might want to use a lighter weight.
Pyramid Sets are a great way to build up to a heavier weight instead of using one consistent weight throughout a workout. You can start out with a lighter weight in the first set and work your way up to a heavier one.
How to Split
Splitting your workouts is a confusing concept thrown around in the weightlifting world. However, it’s pretty simple. It’s basically just a way you split up what area you’re targeting for the day. An easy way to start out is by splitting your workouts into “push” and “pull.” For example, Day 1: push (chest, shoulders, and triceps). Day 2: pull (back, biceps and forearms).
Below is a video of a beginner split workout routine that can be a great guide!
Know Your Muscles
Knowing what muscle area you’re targeting for certain exercises is fundamental to lifting. It gives you the knowledge of what exercises to do when you want to grow certain parts of your body. For example, if you want to grow your glutes: squats, Bulgarian split squats and hip thrusts are great exercises to target your glutes.
Below is a graphic that displays the female muscle groups and some recommendations of what exercises that grow them!
As a woman, being confident in the gym, especially in regards to lifting is a lot harder said than done. It can be a very intimidating space but with proper practice, dedication and confidence you’ll be a pro in no time! Remember everyone starts somewhere!
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