Obese women absolutely need to do strength training, especially with free weights!

I continue to see a severe shortage of obese women lifting weights, i.e., strength training, especially in the free-weight area.

The free weight area is always barren of obese women. On the rare occasions I see obese women strength training in the free weight area is when they have a personal trainer.

What’s so special about the free weight area? Research clearly shows that training with dumbbells and barbells is superior to burning fat and getting physically fit, than is training with machines.

However, some machines are excellent for some routines, such as lat pull-downs, seated rows, and lateral raises, which help shape shoulders.

If you’re an obese woman, simply observe the women in the free weight area.

Compare them to the women who only hang at the machines, and to women who never do any strength training and instead just do cardio.

You will see a notable difference in physiques. The women with the best bodies, collectively, are always in the free weight area.


Why do so few obese women venture into the free weight area, let alone spend most of their workout time there?

Intimidation. Because more “hard-bodies” are in the free weight section, obese women will feel awkward and out of place.

Fear of bulking up. An obese woman may believe that handling barbells and big dumbbells will make her get bigger.

If this sounds like you, I say again, observe the ladies who work hard with free weights. Are they bulky or big?

Sure, you might just happen to see another plus-size woman using free weights.

But she’s not full-figured because she uses free weights.

Look at the women who regularly lift with free weights.

What size dress would you say they wear? Is that size your goal size? Enough said.

What kind of routines should an obese woman do with free weights? You are not limited by your size!

You are only limited by fear. However, if strength training is new to your body, then take it easy and go light; don’t try to set records. This same rule applies to thinner novice women.

Some very effective routines include deadlifts, barbell squats with a Smith machine, leg press, flat or incline bench press, dumbbell press and “clean-and-press,” which is when you pick a barbell off the floor and then press it over your head.

Tips for obese women new to strength training or using free weights:

1. Hire a personal trainer. No, this doesn’t mean spend thousands of dollars. Health clubs offer small training packages. Four sessions can go a long way.

2. Participate in a group fitness class that includes strength training. These classes use dumbbells and barbells. Barbells can be very light.

3. Ask personal trainers at your gym for basic help; they have down time and will gladly answer questions.

5. Consult with a friend who’s experienced with strength training.

Obese individuals, as they become stronger, should not fear increasing the resistance load.

Training should be progressive. When 30 pounds starts feeling less challenging, then go to 35 pounds, and so on. You will not gain inches; you will lose inches.

If you are an obese women, promise yourself that you’ll take a detour from your current path and step into that free weight area of your health club or gym.

Olympic barbells without added weights weigh 45 pounds. Start bench pressing. You’ll get hooked!

Lorra Garrick is a former personal trainer certified through the American Council on Exercise. At Bally Total Fitness she trained women and men of all ages for fat loss, muscle building, fitness and improved health. 



Top image: Shutterstock/Reshetnikov_art