Is lifting weights a good idea for women?

I think so, but then I lift weights. That’s just one option for getting the CDC-recommended strength training. However you get it, some form of strength training is important for efficient daily activity, maintaining strong (dense) bones, and to stave off injury. Many repetitive injuries, for example, are due to weakness, and can be treated (or prevented) by strengthening.

This photo is included in the wonderful Venus with Biceps, a history of women in physical culture in the modern era. “When women first began to work out with weights, it was considered dangerous to have them lift anything heavy and so they were given only two- or four-pound wooden dumbbells. The fact that women lifted much heavier objects in the home seems to have escaped most of the men who designed the exercise. here two cheerful ladies work out in their street clothes in a photograph c. 1910 by Willis T. White.” (Review, in Brain Pickings)

The same bias is alive today, with celebrity trainers warning against lifting weights heavier than 3 lb, even as their celebrity clients comment that the arm they usually use to lift their growing child is more shapely and stronger than the opposite arm, which remains limited to the lighter work.

The worst that will happen with heavier work? The body will look firmer under the skin, and clothes will hang better – a distinct advantage with today’s less blanketing styles.


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