What Women Need to Know about the Strength-Training Gender Gap


Both men and women need to include strength training in their fitness programs. It’s essential for building up your muscles and bones, managing your weight, and reducing your risk of becoming frail as you grow older. 

However, many women are missing out. A recent study found that women were less likely than men to engage in muscle-strengthening activities. 

Researchers at Pennsylvania State University found that women were often uncomfortable using campus fitness facilities, especially the weight room. They were also less likely to participate in sports. 

Learn how to close the strength-training gender gap. Use these strategies to overcome the barriers that keep many women from lifting weights and similar activities. 

How to Feel More Comfortable at the Gym 

Working out at home during the pandemic may have been a relief if you experience social anxiety. However, you can enjoy the fancy equipment and camaraderie at the gym with less self-consciousness and insecurity. 

Keep these tips in mind: 

1. Focus on your goals. Keep your mind on your workout rather than comparing yourself to some stranger with six pack abs. Set specific goals that will motivate you. 

2. Bring a friend. Invite a family member or friend to join you. You can spot each other and share moral encouragement. 

3. Listen to music. Studies show that music can help you to increase your performance and feel like you’re using less effort. Put together a playlist with your favorite tunes. 

4. Dress appropriately. A flattering workout outfit may boost your confidence. You can be comfortable without getting sloppy. 

5. Keep going. It will get easier each time you push yourself to get out on the gym floor. After a while, you may even look forward to seeing your gym buddies and working up a sweat. 

6. Ask the staff. Most gyms have policies to help members feel at home. Talk with the staff if you want to suggest women-only classes or report any kind of harassment. 

How to Feel More Confident Lifting Weights 

Do you back away from the weight room because you feel out of place when you’re the only woman there? Do you think you might injure yourself if you try to bench press? Weight training and other strength building activities can be safe and enjoyable. 

Consider these strategies: 

1. Learn the etiquette. Most of your fellow gym members will care more about your manners than the size of your biceps. Make yourself popular by putting your weights back on the rack after you use them and letting others share equipment when there’s a line. 

2. Avoid crowds. If you still feel a little uneasy, you might prefer dropping in during off peak hours. Try early mornings or weekend afternoons. 

3. Start small. Brief sessions with light weights will help your body get used to your new routine. Increasing the intensity gradually will also lower your risk for accidents or excessive soreness. 

4. Hire a trainer. Master the basic techniques. Work with a trainer or watch videos, so you’ll learn how to use free weights and various machines correctly. 

5. Be assertive. Do you feel embarrassed or annoyed because another member keeps trying to correct you? It’s your decision whether to seek advice. Let them know if you prefer to be left alone. 

6. Shop around. Different gyms have different atmospheres. Most facilities will give you free trial days, so you can find the ideal match for you. 

Strength training can enhance your appearance and wellbeing at any age, but the habits you form when you’re young will make it easier to stay safe and healthy the rest of your life. Make weight-lifting or other resistance exercises a regular part of your fitness routine. 

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