To Lift Or Not To Lift? 7 Women On Why They Lift Weights

Photo: Bo Bo

There's a new wave of weightlifting underway–and this time around, it includes women. What was once mostly reserved as a workout for men has now made its way into the general health and wellness scene, with women in particular taking up an interest in strength-training to supplement their exercise routines. Even though weightlifting is recommended by the American College of Sports Medicine recommends as integral to any adult's daily workout routine, women have rarely been pegged as weightlifters. Now, with a more mind-body approach, weightlifting is back on the radar for wellness enthusiasts everywhere.

We asked seven women to speak on their experiences with weightlifting—why they do it, how they started, and how it makes them feel. Read on for their personal anecdotes, tips on getting started, and motivation to expand beyond your usual repertoire of movement.

1. "Weight training can also lead to more confidence and body awareness."

"Weight lifting is very important to me. I’ve been lifting as long as I’ve been doing yoga—since my teens! It’s how the #builtandbendy series came about. I weight train two or three times a week, and think it’s beyond important for women to have strong bodies. Weight training can also lead to more confidence, more body awareness and even help with bone density on an internal level. It helps with my mood as well. I love being strong. Yoga and weight training complement one another. Long term health is best when it creates stability; there has to be a balance of strength, flexibility, and mobility, which you will get with weight training and yoga in your schedule." — Claire Fountain

2. "It's important to me to strengthen both my mind and body in different ways."

"I need the balance of yin and yang in my cross training routine to keep me balanced and focused throughout the week. I usually have a full yoga practice at my NYC Pure Yoga studio on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday mornings, which mainly serves as a way to align the energy in my body, and most of all gives me an opportunity to practice self-awareness and tune inward. On other days, I aim for two or three weight training circuits and sometimes a bootcamp or boxing class. The weight training really helps to increase my insulin sensitivity for better blood sugar control and allows me to challenge my body to get stronger in a different way that yoga allows. I'm both a yogi and an athlete. Yes, they both can coexist. —Lauren Bongiorno

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3. "I like to describe weight training as the main course."

"As a personal trainer, I honestly think that weight training should be a part of every single person's routine! I like to describe weight training as the main course, with other exercise forms being more like side dishes that are also super important—but weight training should be foundational to everyone's workout routine. I like to work with everything from kettlebells to barbells—I love how it makes me feel strong, and lifting heavy brings very tangible results with your strength and physique. Women shouldn't be afraid to lift heavy! " —Minna Lee

4. "Lifting weights to me is more than "being strong," it's about a routine that empowers me."

"I started lifting weights because I had lost about 20 pounds from strictly triathlon training (i.e. solely swimming, biking, and running). A pal in the fitness world recommended the app Spitfire Athlete as a starter guide. It was a 12-week program that walked me through each move, step by step. Since then I've happily gained the 20 pounds back in muscle (and then some), and still use the app alongside swimming, biking, and running. These days lifting weights to me is more than "being strong," it's about a routine that empowers me to push past what I thought was possible for myself." —Nicole Loher

5. "I will be weight training for the rest of my life."

"I began lifting weights in high school when my doctor suggested it as a way to build strength after struggling with knee pain and poor posture. I was fortunate that I met someone who had over 50 years in the industry, so I did learn from the best. I will be weight training for the rest of my life, as there is no activity or sport that is not enhanced by proper weight training. Weight training is important for all aspects of health. For me specifically, weight training is essential to maintain my strength, flexibility, and ability to perform cardio exercise without injury. Since learning proper weight training, I know how to perform activities of daily living (such as getting into and out of chair, which is basically a squat) with proper technique. I also know how to maintain my mobility even if I am banned from the gym for years on end, which once happened to me after a severe case of lyme disease followed by chronic fatigue. Simply put, even if I am bedridden and housebound for years with little to no energy to move, I know the basics of proper movement, thanks to weightlifting—which has saved me in more ways than one." —Rachel Straub

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6. "It has allowed me to see and value the true potential of my body and the way it adapts to healthy living and discipline."

"I started lifting weights in 2014, eight months after graduating college. I became fed up with being sedentary, feeling exhausted all the time, and not being happy with the way I looked. I started using the Nike Training Club app at the gym three days a week. It was extremely hard getting started and many times I wanted to quit because I felt like I would never get better. Eventually, I started weightlifting in workout classes and then doing heavier lifting on my own using barbells. Weightlifting is important to me because it makes me feel confident, capable, and incredibly strong. It has allowed me to see and value the true potential of my body and the way it adapts to healthy living and discipline. It also feels amazing to know that I’m defying the stereotypes of women not being as tough or strong as men. I love having muscle and knowing it is the result of all my hard work in the gym." —Michelle Marques

7. "I lift because of how it makes me feel. I have such a different relationship with my body now."

I lift weights because I like feeling powerful and strong. Being strong gives me self confidence, changes the way I carry myself, and because of that people respond to me more positively. They feel my positive energy and it comes back to me. Yes, I love what lifting does for my physique—it's more toned and athletic—but that's not why I lift. I lift because of how it makes me feel. I have such a different relationship with my body now. I think it relates to shifting my mindset in terms of why I work out—which is not as a punishment or to get skinnier—but to build myself up and almost as a celebration of what my body can do. Right now, I lift three days a week. The other three days I do interval training, steady-state cardio, and yoga. I do one day that's just focused on legs. Then I'll do a chest, biceps, triceps, and abs day, and then a back and shoulders day, or I might do chest and back and then a shoulders, biceps and triceps day. I'm always playing with what upper body parts I train together. —Tatiana Boncompagni

If you're looking for an easy weightlifting explainer, here's a short guide on weightlifting tips for beginners.

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