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When it Comes to Weights, Don't Underestimate Yourself

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Every day more and more women are picking up iron in hopes of sculpting a stronger body or to simply battle the effects of aging. This is great news, considering ladies have been rather skittish around the weight room in years past.

Despite the fact that strength training is becoming more common place for females, we females are still a little scared to really excel with the weights. Whereas men tend to overestimate what they can/should attempt to lift, women tend to underestimate their abilities. Why? Hard to say. It could have to do with ego or that women have been led to believe they are the weaker sex. Either way, it’s time to step up to the bar, ladies.

Ultimately, many women begin lifting weights in hopes of “toning up”, engaging in high repetitions with tiny little weights. While this type of strength training is better than no strength training, unless your goal is to increase muscular endurance, you’re not really accomplishing a whole lot.

In order to gain a more toned and athletic appearance, you’ve got to be willing to get under some pretty heavy weight -- relatively speaking, that is. To get the arms, legs or glutes of your dreams, you have to build muscle. This is simply non-negotiable.

How does one build muscle? By lifting heavy, of course. I’m not implying you need to be deadlifting 500 pounds -- even though that would be totally badass -- but if you can perform more than 10 repetitions with a given weight, you’re lifting too light.

For muscle growth, known as hypertrophy, to occur, you need to stay in the five to 10 rep range. That means that the weight you’re using should be heavy enough that your last rep is a real struggle. Generally speaking, unless you’ve had a limb completely immobilized, five to 10-pound dumbbells just aren’t going to cut it.

Decide on how many reps you want to complete, then play around with the weights until you find that Goldilocks weight -- the one that’s just right. Once you find it, that’s the weight you’ll use for your workouts. When you get to the point where you can complete two additional reps with that weight (meaning you’ve gotten stronger), it’s time to increase the weight and drop back down to that lower rep range.

Say, for example, you can complete six reps of a back squat with 125 pounds but you don’t have enough gas in the tank to crank out rep number seven. Perfect. Work with this weight for a few weeks. Eventually, you’ll find you can get all the way up to seven, eight, or even nine reps with this weight. Go ahead and throw another plate on each side so that you’re up to 135-145, drop the reps back down to five or six and start squatting.

THIS is how you gain muscle, shed fat, and get that body you’re after.

Don’t underestimate yourself. There are some amazingly powerful ladies out there, if you give yourself a chance to unleash your potential you may just find you’re one of them.

You don’t have to get fancy. In fact, it’s better just to keep it simple. Compound exercises such as squats, lunges, deadlifts, presses, and rows with lower reps and heavier weights can completely transform your body. Commit to three workouts per week, giving yourself a day off between sessions and you’ll be amazed at the muscle definition that starts to emerge.

Go ahead, see what you’re made of. Get under some weight to transform your body and mind.