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5 Reasons You Might Be Reluctant to Lift Heavier - And Why You Should Anyway

5 Reasons You Might Be Reluctant to Lift Heavier - And Why You Should Anyway

It's time to ditch the idea that lifting heavier and heavier weights will make you Hulk-like. The truth is, lifting progressively more weight can transform your body and boost your confidence like never before. When you challenge yourself, you realize just how strong and capable you are.

Even if you’re already doing some form of strength training, lifting heavier weights can seem daunting. It's not uncommon to feel hesitant about adding more weight to your routine, but doing so has several benefits. 

Here are five reasons you might be reluctant to lift heavier weights —- and why you should anyway.

Woman adding weights to bar

1. Fear of Getting Bulky

One of the most common reasons women are hesitant to lift heavier weights is the fear of getting bulky. Many women worry that lifting heavy weights will make them look “masculine” or add too much muscle mass. 

However, getting as bulky as your guy friends is quite difficult and takes lots of dedicated hard work. In general, women have less testosterone than men, so in order to build large amounts of muscle mass, you’d also need to follow an extremely rigorous and specialized training and diet regimen.

In fact, lifting heavier weights can actually help you achieve a leaner, more toned physique. By building lean muscle mass, you can boost your metabolism and burn more calories at rest, helping to reduce overall body fat.

And, as Amy Schultz, PT, Fit Body’s physical therapist, points out: “Through Fit Body, you can choose from multiple strength-building programs that are not only hypertrophy (muscle growth) focused. Fact is that strength adaptations can occur without ‘bulking up.’” So pick the program that works for you and your goals!

2. Lack of Confidence

It's natural to feel unsure when you're starting out with heavier weights — How much weight do you add? What if you can’t lift it or hurt yourself? Start by gradually increasing the weight you're lifting over time, and remember that progress takes time.

“We recommend increasing your weight by no more than 10% each week in order to safely progress through the program,” Schultz says. “This is dependent on you first choosing a weight that reflects your strength-building goals (hypertrophy, strength, power, etc.).”

Additionally, consider working with a personal trainer (either in person or the ones in the Fit Body app) or attending a strength-training class to learn proper form and technique. This can help build your confidence and ensure that you're lifting safely and effectively.

3. Concerns About Injury

While it's true that lifting heavier weights can increase the risk of injury if you’re not using proper form, the same can be said for any type of exercise — regardless of weight or intensity. And actually, lifting weights can help you avoid injuries in your day-to-day life, Schultz says.

To minimize your risk of injury, start by focusing on proper technique, rather than lifting the heaviest weight possible. 

“Staying in a weight range that you can safely complete the recommended number of repetitions for each exercise is a great place to start,” Schultz says. “When in doubt, choose the lighter weight.”

Lastly, make sure to warm up properly before lifting and cool down afterward.

4. Belief That Lighter Weights Are Better for Weight Loss

You might be under the impression that lifting lighter weights for more reps is better for weight loss. After all, it results in a leaner, more toned appearance without “bulking up,” right? 

“There are so many variables that you can alter with exercise to reach your targeted goals,” Schultz says. “For example, lifting lighter weight for more reps can help with endurance strength and cardiovascular gains. However, this does not necessarily mean that it is better for weight loss than heavy, low rep weight training. Both will burn calories during and after activity, leading to weight loss.”

Lifting heavy weights actually helps to build muscle, which can increase metabolism and help burn fat more efficiently. In addition, lifting heavier weights can also help to improve bone density and reduce the risk of osteoporosis, a condition that disproportionately affects women.

5. Fear of Judgment

Finally, many women may be hesitant to lift heavier weights due to a fear of judgment. It's natural to feel self-conscious when you're trying something new, especially in a gym or fitness class.

“It is normal to feel self-conscious when trying something new, including a new exercise in the gym,” Schultz says. “Just know that everyone in the gym has also felt exactly how you are in that moment!”

Everyone starts somewhere. Don't worry about what others may be thinking or saying, and instead, focus on your own goals and progress. Additionally, consider working out with a supportive friend or in a group fitness class to help build your confidence.

“One thing that I've learned that helps with feeling embarrassed in the gym,” Schultz says, “is to imagine the people you are trying to ‘impress’ doing an activity that you feel confident in (for example, surfing, yoga, cooking, writing).”

Don't let fear hold you back from achieving your fitness goals! Start by gradually increasing the weight you're lifting over time, focusing on proper form and technique, and remember to stay positive and persistent.

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