Walk into most gyms and you’ll see the same gender divide: the free weights area full of sweating, grunting would-be Arnies, and the stretch areas apparently reserved just for women in lycra with dumbbells smaller than their handbags.

It’s time to cross that divide, and correct some of the misunderstandings that lead the sexes to train very differently and as a result, often less effectively.

Just as there are significant advantages that men can gain by incorporating stretching and core work – typically ‘girl’s disciplines’ – into their training, there are also real benefits that women can gain from getting in touch with their masculine side – workout-wise, at least.

And that means resistance training. Weights. There – I said it.

I know what you’re thinking – after all I hear it from clients pretty much every time the ‘w’ word is mentioned: “I’m tying to slim down, not bulk up. How am I supposed to get into skinny jeans with thighs the size of an elephant?”

Relax. When you consider the hormonal differences between men and women, that’s just not going to happen. But with a balanced approach to whole body resistance training (and, yes that means upper body too) here’s what can happen. You’ll become toned, without getting bulky.

You’ll become physically stronger without getting any bigger. If anything you may even get a little slimmer – building more lean muscle will increase your metabolic rate, burning more calories and emptying the body’s fat stores more effectively than any amount of cardio could achieve on its own.

Resistance work also builds stronger bone density – something your body will thank you for in later life, as healthy bones can delay the onset of degenerative conditions like osteoporosis and osteoarthritis.

So by adding a weights element to your workout (the sweating and grunting are optional) not only will you gain a little more muscle tone and therefore burn more calories, but you’ll also improve your quality of daily living later on down the line.

And that’s not a benefit that only the boys should be enjoying, is it?

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