For us girls, it can be a little daunting to walk into the weights room at the gym. That area is commonly known as the ‘male domain’, where all the guys are sporting their muscle tops, making loud grunting noises and lifting the heaviest weights possible. I don’t know about you, but whenever I step into that room I always seem to get stared at by all the males, as if they are shocked a lady would dare come into their space.

If you’re not accustomed to using weights or are unfamiliar with what to do with them your 1st reaction would be to make a huge U-turn and head back to the cardio machines to complete your workout. That’s highly understandable, but you’d be missing out on weight training and all the benefits it brings.

Yes, if you want to lose weight the cardio machines are the most commonly used pieces of equipment. But if losing weight is the goal- having more muscle mass not only increases your metabolism but it also increases the amount of calories you burn throughout the day, according to a study published in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, which discovered that women who did weight training burned an average of 100 more calories during the 24 hours after their training session ended.

Now I know every woman’s fear is that they’ll turn into the next female body builder if they start to lift weights, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. You can still keep your femininity and lift; there is nothing sexier than having a well-defined body, which you can only get from lifting a few weights. Women just simply don’t have as much testosterone as men, which is the primary muscle-building hormone in the body. Since women have significantly less levels of testosterone than men, they cannot put on muscle mass as easily. So we really have nothing to fear when trying to avoid looking like one of the boys. Thank heavens!

… So you’re now getting into the idea of entering the weights room, one of the most important items I would say that you would need- besides a bottle of water, is definitely your MP3 player or some sort of music device. Having headphones in your ears is a sure fire way to keep away any guy that wants to come and talk to you, and lets face it- the last thing you want is some guy trying to chat you up when you’re trying to lift weights at the gym; no makeup, hair tied and definitely not in your cutest outfit- I couldn’t think of a worse way for a first impression.

Listening to music will also give you the motivation to push yourself -listening to your favourite songs, because lets face it, we are here to get the most out of our work out- not worry about the people around us- and not to mention headphones help drown out and ignore any stares you may receive. The perfect investment for a peaceful day at the gym!

If you have no source of music or you still don’t think that would help put you at ease while trying to work out surrounded by guys, the next best thing is to bring a friend. This is the best way to work out, as you’d have someone to talk to and also guide you if you’re not sure what to do.

Navigating around all this new equipment may seem a little overwhelming at first, and if you are new to weight training I would definitely advise using the fixed machines instead of free weights. The fixed machines are definitely more user friendly- they generally come with a picture of how to use the equipment and what muscles you’d be working. So if you want to get a full bodywork out you can do so by simply following the images. Then when you become accustomed to the movements and the surroundings you can gradually work your way towards the free weights.

One of the most confusing things when it comes to weight training is how many reps you should be doing. Not to worry- not many guys are aware of the optimum number of reps for the perfect workout either. To obtain more definition you want to lift a weight that is challenging for you, approximately 8-12 times. This will overload your muscles so they will become stronger; if you are able to lift the weight more than 15 times then you need to increase the resistance. And never forget technique is everything- never put technique at risk just to lift a heavier weight, that is the quickest way to end up with an injury- and we don’t want that!

These are just a few simple guidelines for us ladies so that we can navigate around the weights room without feeling intimidated. Remember we have as much right to be there as the guys so don’t let any stares or comments put you off. The key is to take it slow and gradually increase the weight, eventually you’ll get the results you’re after. Soon you’ll be a pro- maybe even show the guys a thing or two about lifting weights!

Become the face of fitness you’ve always wanted and use this guide to learn how to navigate the weights room.

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Fitness professional, studied health and fitness for a large portion of my life , even completed my degree in Sports Science. I am currently based in Barbados and just wanted a platform to be able to share and involve anyone who is interested in health and fitness and might not know where to go or how to begin.