Hopefully you know by now that an all-cardio-all-the-time workout routine is a bit of a missed opportunity. Look, I am a supporter of pretty much any workout routine that you'll actually stick to (more about how to actually enjoy your workouts here), but some form of strength training is foundational to injury prevention, metabolic speed, weight loss, and — in my experience — feeling like a badass. If you've been avoiding the weight room, chances are it's because you're holding onto one of these following fears — so let's conquer them!
1. You're afraid you'll bulk up.
You don't want to look like the Hulk. I get it. It's actually really, really difficult for women to bulk up, though, so unless you're lifting really heavy weights over a long period of time (and someone is sneaking a bunch of supplements into your diet), trust me when I tell you that you will not wake up looking like a dude one day if you start lifting some weights. Women produce 15 to 20 percent less testosterone than men do, so even if you and your man follow a similar strength-training plan you still won't bulk up at the same rate. Moreover, as you add lean muscle to your frame, your body burns more calories 24/7 and you actually lose weight. Win/win.
2. You don't have a game plan.
This is a valid concern — until it isn't. Yes, you should definitely arm yourself with a game plan before you start a strength training program, but don't worry too much about finding an absolutely perfect program that is uniquely tailored to you. There are so many resources available these days (here, here, and here, for example), and at some point you just have to dive in. Any workout program — strength training or otherwise — is going to require a little bit of trial and error to fine tune it for your body, your ability, and your interests. So pick one, get started, and tweak it as you go.
3. You think everyone's staring at you (and not in a good way).
It's totally normal to feel self-conscious as a weight-room newbie. Want to know a secret, though? Everyone else is so concerned about what you think of them that they're not even really paying attention to you. I promise. Just march into that weight room, pick up your weight, and don't worry about what anyone else in there is doing.
4. You're afraid you'll hurt yourself.
Lifting heavy things is, in fact, a good way to hurt yourself if you're not careful. If you're brand new to lifting weights, there are a couple best practices to avoid this. First, ask for a demo. Your gym doesn't want you getting hurt on its watch, and most offer mini-training sessions or a brief demos of exercises to ensure your form is safe. Second, start with light weights — or no weights at all. The three-pound and five-pound weights are there for a reason, and there is absolutely no shame in using them. Let your first week or two in the weight room be about making sure your form isn't causing any worrisome aches and pains, and increase the weight slowly after that.
5. It's just not your vibe.
Sometimes the weight room can seem like a meat market full of thugs and bimbos, and maybe you just want no part of it. No one can fault you for that. Strength training (aka resistance training) is simply about pushing yourself to get stronger using progressive overload, though, and you can actually accomplish this in plenty of places outside of a traditional weight room. Push-ups done on a grassy knoll count. Pull-ups done from a tree branch count. Squats done with a kid on your back definitely count, even if you happen to be watching Sesame Street at the time. Don't let bad weight room stereotypes prevent you from incorporating resistance training into your fitness routine.
A strong body is a healthy body. A mind that conquers fears is a strong mind. So conquer your fears, head into that weight room, and start getting stronger. You've got this.