My husband tells me a man is considered strong if he is able to lift his own bodyweight or higher. Is the same true of women? Should I be trying to work up to that? What about other exercises like dumbbell curls or tricep kickbacks? I work within what's comfortable for me, but what's the average? When I look at picture of women training, it never looks like they're pushing heavy amounts. For myself I get the more I lift, the more powerful I feel and really get off on it.
The only places I have seen photos where women are working with maximum, or heavy weights in general, are those involved with powerlifting or with bodybuilding.
Seeing women in fitness magazines lifting lower weights, though, can be misleading. It is a "photo shoot" so these things can last awhile and moving around heavy weights can get wearisome awfully fast. You have to start somewhere and the photos may encourage women to try lifting if they never tried before.
You have to figure the "feminine" factor and lack of bodybuilding knowledge. Those women in the photos can lift more but if shown that .....this might put off an ill informed newcomer. "Packaging" sells and the "hook" is the sell with lower weights--- "you can look just like them!" (.....eventually.)
But starting with lower/medium weights is just plain common sense too.
In the college Fall Semester women's strength program, some in my class started out with only 5 pound DBLs (...a couple with 3 pounds.) This is what the instructor had us all start at. But I found the 5 pounds too light and went quickly to 10 pounds DBLs after a couple of classes. Basically to teach proper form was why the instructor had us all start low.....but saying this, it was also with what weights most would be comfortable with. Living a rural lifestyle and raising animals, I was abit stronger and so could get away with starting with the 10lbs. I never did any lifting prior to this (but did the "diet scene").
Gradually, others in the class did use 10 and 15 pounds by the end of the first semester. But some stayed with the 10 and never went beyond. Just upped the reps. It is whatever felt comfortable to them or as their health let them. One older woman was only able to work with 5 pounds because of osteoarthritis. There was no competition to see who could lift the most. The class did have a Universal machine as well as freeweights.
Some stayed with the program and some drifted out because of work, family concerns or lack of commitment. By the final three--four weeks, only myself and another were in class on regular three day aweek schedule with the instructor. The others would come in one or two times a week for the hour and a 15 minute class. When the Spring Semester rolled around, I signed up for it too.
I just plain found I LIKED what I was doing.....LIKED the changes and the energy. Enjoyed the challenge even if those workouts felt draining sometimes at first. A month before the Spring Semester started, my husband bought a used professional bench with Olympic BB and weights for me (had some DBLs too). I started pressing with the bar just before Fall Semester was over. Found it better for control and strength than the Universal machine's chest/shoulder press. My left arm is abit weaker and found the freeweights better for strenghtening it.
Maybe I will bench press my own weight eventually. Can certainly do that now, with abit more, doing squats. Graduated to using 30 pound DBLs for Flies at 3 sets of 10. Working with 25 lbs for DBL curls now for 3 sets of 8-10. Use 25lbs for Overhead extensions (single DBL). Lat pulldowns are at 100lbs and cable rows are the same. I am 51. 5' 6" and weigh 205. I was 235-40 before I started lifting 7 months ago and can bench press 125 BB for 2 sets of 8 reps. Ok...so it does not sound like much, But I never did any lifting prior to this (but did the "diet scene").
Like you, I feel better lifting more. I would like to see just how far I can take this. Married 30 years and with two ceasareans (both ways)....and always been fat. Done all the diets. But with lifting, maybe do something in the next few months I thought never possible in the past.....
Wow Laurie, you sound pretty strong to me! 30lb db flies is quite a bit, and 125 BB is more than most women will ever try.
My wife's been going to the gym lately and tries to do 10 reps to failure. I think she likes the attention she gets from lifting much heavier than most women there. I get annoyed seeing women leg press 40lbs, when my wife can do 300lbs x10. You'd think they couldn't stand up on their own.
I wondered about that myself while taking that first class. Lifting heavier weights while the others kept lower. Did not know if I was intimidating them or what. I took the stance of IF any were, just keep going at my own pace. I was not there to impress anyone to begin with.
Later after that first semester was over, I bumped into a couple in the local store. Just talking and brought this up. Their answer was surprising.....they admired that I was able to do as well as I did...to go for it and continue.
So if your wife is intimidating to some, she is also an inspiration to others.
By the way, I have progressed to 135lbs bench press now. Been doing some extra tri cep exercises with my weaker left arm to build it up more. Found this helped with control. Started including Incline bench pressing as well (can do 95lbs for 2 sets of 6-8 after a warmup set of 65 and 85 at 8 reps) As I do not have a spotter, I do not go completely to muscle failure....keep it enough where I can still replace the bar myself....even if that can be "push" to do so.
You know, I keep starting to answer and have to lay it aside. Started a long essay but better keep it short and sweet.
Men have the edge with more testosterone...for obvious reasons BUT that does not mean a woman cannot aspire to having similar strength. When you go back into history, because of lifestyle, society and culture, women were stronger. They had to be. Even the usual household chores entailed more physical involvement. But also why technology was welcomed if it was thought to help in the home.
Anyone remember the PBS program "The 1800 House?" or its American equivalent, "The Frontier House"? From bone density tests, it has been shown the women's bones were thicker. Now, saying this, it also depended on their diet too but something to consider. I am not advocating going back to those "good old days".....no ma'am....I lived alot like that for 9 1/2 years on an Arizona Placer Mining Claim. Complete with Aladdin kerosene lamps and hauling up a 5 gal bucket of gas to fill a light/power plant for the night. Raising animals (still do) and all that. So I know what is possible. Why I like the "Strongest Woman" contests for showing strength and beauty comes in all shapes....The same with the fitness contests and the women's bodybuilding. There is a place for anyone who just wants to feel and look better but without the guilt or finger pointing. Be appreciated for taking the inititive and take what you know you can do....further.
I am just upset with the Madison Avenue advertising concepts that still make women fearful of starting a freeweights program. I was a teen during the "Twiggy" years of what a girl supposed to look like. Was teased for being more "full figured". I am just glad the "Fitness" types and outside veiws of them have finally matured. Maybe not completely ....but getting there.
So, MsFit......I do believe you can curl 40lbs DBLs. You have youth and years of training on your side....I have only 7 months and what natural strength starting out. Maybe I will be able to curl 40 someday.....give me a year or two.
Maybe never, but what the heck.....I am enjoying what I can do now and patiently working my way to the next ridge.
I read in an Oxygen mag awhile ago that if a woman wants to she can have 95% of the strength of the same size man. In our society's case women who are bodybuilders or lifting in general can surpass that but I say open a major can of whooooop ass!!
I think if a woman lifted to gain strength, she could be stronger than a vast majority of men who don't workout. Just yesterday, I saw a woman using 60lbs on each side of the Hammer Strength decline chest press machine for at least 10 reps(I don't know how much assistance her partner was giving though). Her workout partner(maybe boyfriend) added 10 lbs to each side for his set. She doesn't look "bulky" at all.
I'm always impressed by feats of strength by women! I remember bufchk's workout weight's impressing me.
What is interesting about this is that women generally can lift more than they THINK they can. (Excluding some women in this forum). When I weighed 115 lbs. I could squat well over 300 lbs. (I was a competitive powerlifter). Nowadays, I don't try to lift like that BUT I notice at the gym women lifting weights that probably aren't doing much for them. I think--try the higher weight! What do you have to lose? You're here lifting anyway, why not maximize your workout?
Sometimes even now when I put the weights on the squat rack, I'll think--this is all I can do--then I think--well, maybe some more--I put it on, and--I do it!! : ) It's great to feel strong!!!!
Most definitely! I see it all the time: Women just standing around chatting with their buddies or ogling the guy on the next workout station ... and lifting extremely submaximum weights. And I think: "Why bother? You're here, you might as well DO something, for crying out loud."
Just an update on my training program. I'm up to 100lb for my bench press. I was so excited to get into the triple digits. I loved the earlier comment about the leg press and being able to stand. My biceps curls are only at 20lbs with 12 reps but I'm gaining definition and feels strong so that's all that matters. Hopefully, I'll reach some of these other stats I see above.
Nothing better than being a strong woman... inside and out!
Let's keep it up ladies!
I am not for sure the age of everyone in here, but I am a 17-year old female, 5'6" tall, and weigh 126 lbs. My max bench is only 110 lbs. and I am hoping to someday bench my weight. I started working out about 2 years ago and have continues on and off since then. Lately though, I have been training hard. I am on a strict diet of high protein meal replacement shakes (Cytoplex). If anyone else is about my age and female, I would really like to know your results of working out. The only person I have to compare my self with is my fiancee and he benches 250 +, and I don't think I can match that, lol.
Amethyst90, I am 51 years old. (The "Laurie2" is also me when posting from the college)
If your maximum is 110 right now, you will reach 125 in time and beyond. Just have patience and it sounds like you are doing fine.
Spring semester is over but I have signed up for the Summer one. This time, my 17 year old daughter will be joining me in the gym and never lifted before. She is 5' 11" and weighs 230 pounds. Like me and her father, she is largeboned and does help care for the various animals we have (dwarf goats, chickens, ducks, geese, et.c.) although keeping up her strength from that, it is not enough. She just had a bone density test that showed very positive. Just a matter of extra exercise and moderation of diet would help bring the weight down while stoking her metabolism.
Sorry I am taking up so much space, but I am just so excited!!! I feel healthier than I ever have! I am not tired and weak, and if anything I feel like I have more energy, even before I knew what my BF% was. I think it might be something in the Cytoplex, but I am not for sure. I am so glad I have people to share this with!!
I am guessing most of the people here are female, and I feel most comfortable chatting in this section of the forums. I know this is a strage place to post my results, but I just had to tell you!!!
Amethyst, why on earth are you having such a big break between meals in your diet.
no food between 7am and 5pm is TERRIBLE!!!
I'm sure you know the metabolism story but I'll tell you just in case you don't know.
Eating 3 meals a day the metabolism runs at a steady pace because it thinks it's starving because of the breaks between our meal times being in excess of 4-5 hours. This causes our metabolism to slow down and take longer to digest food and INCREASING your fat storage.
Eating 6 meals a day your metabolism is in high gear. It knows that there will be a constant food supply and will run optimally, giving you higher energy and better fat loss. You may actually be impeding your own weight loss by doing this.
By eating healthily and having 6 meals a day, I was losing fat at about 1kg (2.2lbs) a week healthily. I went from 85kg (186lbs) to 74kg (156lbs) in 9 weeks.
Yes, I know that. But, I take Xenadrine EFX for my metabolism, which is a thermogenic supplement, meaning it keeps the metabolism up. I make sure to get plenty of nutrition, just not from solid foods, like most people choose to. I prefer to get my protein from other sources. I also drink 1 gallon of water a day, which really isn't all that much. I don't know if you have looked at the nutrition facts of Cytoplex, but it is very healthy. I am sure most people would choose not to take meal replacement due to a lack of motivation or just personal taste, but it is what suits me best.
Wow, Amethyst! Are you kidding me? I'd waste away to nothing on that diet, not to mention the loss of muscle. I don't know what your activity level is or what your metabolism rate is like, but dayum ... your diet doesn't seem like enough to feed a bird!
I'm not bashing you (or your diet), so don't take it that way. I'm just simply in awe, that's all. But hey, whatever works for ya.
amethyst-- you asked to know how anyone around your age was working out at...i'm 16 and 118lbs. I've been working out for about 1 month now and my bench is (only) 100, but i hope to be able to do way more than that soon. I can do high reps of 185 on the leg press, but i've never really maxed out. Unfortunately, my arms are still pretty wimpy...only about 10 inches around! My waist is down to 24in with ab work, thighs 21in and claves 14 in. Do your workouts consist of high reps or higher weights?
Originally posted by Amethyst90 Yes, I know that. But, I take Xenadrine EFX for my metabolism, which is a thermogenic supplement, meaning it keeps the metabolism up. I make sure to get plenty of nutrition, just not from solid foods, like most people choose to. I prefer to get my protein from other sources. I also drink 1 gallon of water a day, which really isn't all that much. I don't know if you have looked at the nutrition facts of Cytoplex, but it is very healthy. I am sure most people would choose not to take meal replacement due to a lack of motivation or just personal taste, but it is what suits me best.
who cares about metabolism when you are literally starving your body, not only of food but of natural, necessary nutrients! where are your vegetables? lean meats? fruits? fiber? i see no real food in your diet at all.
xenadrine is NOT a replacement for food and i can't believe you are wasting the boost of energy attained from the thermo by not including exercise of some form after using it in the morning. what good is a boost in metabolism from a supplement when you are sitting on your arse after using it?
whats going to happen when you DO start to eat? have you considered that?
Yay, a couple more women in the 100lb bench press club My wife's on a trip right now, but when she comes back I should go to the gym with her and see what she benches. I know she hasn't been doing bench, at least not with a barbell. I'm also going to introduce her to deadlifts.
I have had to cut back on some of the poundage of my exercises due to an old rotator cuff tear injury in my Left arm. The docs said it was probably an old one but do not need any surgery. Just ease back for a few weeks and not to do anymore "overhead" lifts.
I had been feeling some impingement/stiffness while going heavy the last couple of months and went to my family doc. He thought this might be arthritis or a possible rotator cuff tear.... so ordered a MRI. Then referred me to an orthopedic doctor afterwards. This doc showed me the films and, yes, there is a definate half inch full tear of the Supraspinatus tendon ("Most Anterior" meaning most front edge). However, as I still have full rotation movement and passed his evaluation "strength" tests with flyng colors. (just crossing my left arm over to my right shoulder causes a stiffening and some soreness)....his opinion was this was an old tear from some past trauma (Fell down at some time with added age "wear" and "tear" on top of that). Just the heavy workouts and soreness from possible incipient tendonitis just brought it to attention.
But no surgery is indicated....that could 'hurt" more than it would help right now, since I do have nearly complete movement as it is. Time is the key here.
So, no shoulder/military presses as the repetitive shoulder pushing up motion with heavy weights may affect it worse ("may" is the word here) And no "flyes" right now (DANG!) To Ease back abit and not so hard for awhile. My husband took me to an acupunctureist and that helped. Have been taking Glucosamine Sulfate w/MSM for the past six weeks anyway.....figured as I do have some arthritis (lower back/shoulder) this would help.
Yesterday was Chest and Back....so I cut back to 105lbs and worked on my stablizer muscles with 20lb DBL chest press. Worked on my triceps more and did 100lb cable rows instead of Lat pulldowns (they say I cant do these anymore either.....WHAA!)
However, BB and DBL rows are the alternative there.....hehehehehe. Eventually try some pullups.
Basically, exercises done in a box from chin level and down for a few weeks. Remember to stretch more too.