Many women can find the gym daunting enough as it is, and that’s before even stepping foot into the weights room. Whether you are new to free weights or have been training for years, it is still easy to feel out of place when the majority of the population in the weight area are male.
There are 15 easy to spot reasons showing that you are the only woman in there, but don’t let this put you off! Let’s take a look at these 15 signs and why, as a woman, they shouldn’t be an intimidation.
1. In the weight room, men who look normal on the street suddenly look twice as big and three times as scary
For some reason, when put into a gym environment, men tend to suddenly look twice as big and three times as scary. But why is this?
There are two main reasons why even the most normal man off the street may appear bigger and scarier in the gym than any other environment. Firstly, most men appear bigger in the gym because they are!
Sounds strange right? Lifting weights causes your muscles to plump, meaning that they actually grow in size whilst you are working out. Ever seen someone on TV doing a few cheeky push ups before a first date, this is to cause their pecs to swell in size and appear bigger and buffer to their future spouse.
Secondly, weightlifting in men will increase the production of testosterone. This is the hormone which makes men more masculine, so you can only imagine the effect it has at time of release. The adrenaline itself can also have a similar effect, so the two coupled are likely to increase that strut, make that grunt a little harsher and all round act more ‘blokey’.
2. There are no pink dumbbells!
Most commercial gyms now stock incremental weights and well as plate loaded bars. But unlike the pretty multioloured ones you tend to purchase if you were to lift dumbbells at home, even these tend to be in the typical black/metal.
The important thing to remember with this is that 1kg is 1kg regardless of its colour. So again, whether your max lift is 1kg, 10kg or 100kg, remember that you can lift whatever weights you want to and that you aren’t simply restricted by colour.
3. Three different men offer you lifting ‘advice’ before you’re ten minutes into your session
Gone are the days of requiring a man to do everything for you. Carrying your shopping, undoing that jar lift, or even moving the furniture – But that doesn’t stop man believing they can still lift better than a woman.
That’s why, especially when doing strength training or specialised lifting, such as Olympic, you are highly likely to get several offers for help and advice. Lifting heavy doesn’t always mean lifting well, form is key and if you haven’t got it then you shouldn’t be lifting that heavy.
Do your research, practice and build slowly and you will soon have the confidence to politely decline if ‘advice’ is offered. You may even spot some form issues in those advisors yourself!
4. What seemed like a modest outfit in the changing room now feels like this
Gym wear for women tends to be figure hugging, and especially if you are already self conscious, wearing even a long sleeved top and legging can feel revealing. This becomes even more apparent when you are in a room full of men.
Unfortunately, there will always be that one or two that will spoil it for the rest, but it is important to remember that anyone taking their lifting seriously won’t be focusing on you and will instead being paying more attention to themselves in the mirror to monitor their own form.
Thankfully there is plenty of modest and well-designed gym clothing for women, from sports bras to leggings and even weight lifting belts! So just have a search around and find a brand you like with clothing you will feel comfortable in.
5. You feel uneasy doing good mornings
As with above, performing certain moves can make you feel uneasy (particularly good mornings and deadlift when your hips are kept high. Again it is important to remember that anyone who is serious about lifting, and well anyone that isn’t isn’t worth worrying about.
You worked hard to get them glutes, so don’t get uneasy showing what they can do!
6. But you are never stuck for a spotter!
As a woman being into weightlifting, it can be difficult getting a gal pal to workout with. This isn’t an issue if you are only lifting light weights, but when benching and squatting, amongst strength training and the like you should always make sure you have a spotter.
The good news is, those ‘advisors’ from earlier are always happy to help. That’s why when you are the only woman in the weights room you will always have a spotter. This isn’t such a bad point I guess.
7. There’s always some guy taking up space in your mirror
Unfortunately, there is still the stereotype that women should do cardio and men should lift weights. This clearly isn’t the case, but as a result, many men often overlook your presence or consider your workout less important and therefore will workout right in front of you hogging the mirror.
The best way to get around this, as long as you don’t require a fixed rig or rack, is position yourself as close to the mirror as possible. This will deter people from getting in your way and also ensure that you can clearly and safely monitor your form.
8. Even though he’s not as impressive as he thinks
That guy in front of you, it’s also highly unlikely he isn’t as impressive as he thinks he is. Now not to stereotype, but there are two very clear personalities of men who work out in the gym, those who are focused on aesthetics and those who are focused on achievements.
The strength trainers, olympic lifters and heavyweights tend to be the latter. They sink slowly into the background and you barely notice they are there, but the former, they tend to be focused on that pump, peacocking the weight they can lift and positioning themselves on the floor in a place they can be clearly seen by all others.
9. When you do pull ups, the resident Crossfitter jumps on too
OK OK as previously mentioned the gym can be pretty competitive environment, and unfortunately, crossfit it possibly one of the most competitive types of fitness out there. This is why when you begin doing pull ups, you will be joined by someone which does cross fit.
Let them focus on doing their thing and competing with you in their head, don’t let it intimidate you and simply continue to focus on your form and progress.
10. There’s always some joker trying to impress you with a ridiculous exercise…
The fitness industry will always continue to grow, but as it does, people have the misconception that they need to change exercises and make them more and more ridiculous. It’s highly likely you will have come across this in the weights room – Or at least will do at some point.
Maybe it’s a guy trying to do a handstand and lift the barbell with his feet, or throw and catch a weighted ball on the back of his neck. But whatever it is, just remember exercise doesn’t have to be complicated to be effective. With progressive overload it is possible to continue to make progress with even the simplest few exercises.
11. …until he sees your deadlift
There is nothing better than watching the showboats jaws drop when they see they weight you can deadlift. Enjoy that moment, it’s a good one!
12. The bench is always occupied
Pump biceps and pecs are the manly statement of the past x amount of years, this is why the benches are always occupied. The barbell bench press is probably one of the most effective exercises when training for upper body hypertrophy, which is why you will struggle to get your turn.
There are many variants of exercise you can use to change these muscles, so whatever your goals, with a little research you can easily find an exercise to suit.
13. But the squat rack is always free!
Have you ever heard the phrase ‘don’t skip leg day’? As previously mentioned, many men focus on building muscle on their upper bodies to present masculinity, but as a result often neglect to build on their lower half.
Squatting is fantastic for building your glutes and quads, and as a result is very popular amongst women. That’s why if this piece of equipment is always free, you know you’re the only one there!
14. Guys keep trying to pick you up
Generally speaking, men will always be stronger than their women counterparts but for some reason they feel the need to prove this by showing they can pick you up like a weight, whether that is lifting you above their head, squatting you or deadlifting you. Just remember to be careful and say no if you don’t feel comfortable!
15. But it’s still better than being on the treadmill!
Despite being fully aware you are the only woman in the weights room, it is still far better than being on the treadmill – Why? Because weightlifting has far more benefits from cardio to strength, conditioning and aesthetics.
So don’t feel intimidated and go and own your space on that gym floor!