Strength Matters: Why Women Should Be Lifting with Maximal Effort



By Nick Gianatasio, NASM-CPT

What is maximal effort lifting?

In the hierarchy of fitness goals for most women, being the strongest in the room isn’t always the top priority as opposed to having a lean, aesthetic physique. Lifting weights with maximal effort (1-5 repetitions) is often mistakenly associated with having “bulky muscles”, which many women consider counter-productive to their lean, aesthetic goals. A lack of testosterone will prevent rapid gains in lean body mass that could result in the more masculine look that women fear. Instead, incorporating higher intensity, lower volume (heavier weights with less reps) training can help with modest gains in lean body mass in areas of the body that women are always looking to improve aesthetically, commonly glutes, deltoids and triceps while also promoting another key component of fitness: strength!

Why is maximal effort lifting important?

Aesthetic benefits aside, men and women both young and old should be striving to maintain and gain strength across all areas of the body and through all movement patterns. With gains in strength come gains in self-confidence and improvement in quality of life no matter your gender or age. Every day tasks such as picking up, carrying or moving objects (including children or grandchildren) up and down stairs or outdoor activities such as performing yard work tasks become easier with gains in strength.

What does a maximal effort workout look like?

As opposed to a circuit style workout where rest periods are minimal and weights are lighter, maximal effort workouts involve heavier weights and longer rest times between sets. For main lifts such as squats, deadlifts or presses, stick to 1-5 reps. For more information on maximal effort lifting or for any assistance with workouts or nutrition be sure to speak with your LifeStart Wellness Network on-site staff about personal training and nutrition plans!

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