Strength training is in and eighties inspired step classes are out. Online influencers such as Alice Living, Victoria Spence and Carly Rowen are paving the way for women. It’s time to embrace the bars and bells. If you’ve never picked up anything heavier than your morning brew, it can be daunting to step into the world of weight training. But I’ve got your back, here are some of my top tips on how we ladies can start lifting – and why you should.
Where do I start?
Ironically, you don’t actually need to pick up weights to begin weight training. Body weight can be enough to start your journey and is far less intimidating than knowing which dumbbells you should be lifting first. That said, you can quickly work out how much you’re comfortable lifting after testing a few exercises out. You’ll be surprised just how light a 2kg dumbbell actually feels.
Getting your technique right is vital to ensure that when you do begin lifting the heavier stuff, you feel confident and ready. So start off small. Build yourself up, and start to develop those muscle groups.
Do I need to join a gym?
No – but it can help if you’re completely new to weight training.
Classes such as Les Mills BODYPUMP allows you to choose the right weight for you and benefit from the instruction of an experienced trainer. These types of classes concentrate muscle fatigue by lifting light weights with a high level of repetitions. Perfect for beginners as it’s a great way to ease yourself into weight training.
These classes incorporate dumbbell training, barbell training, as well as working the core. We often don’t have access to this kind of equipment so experimenting with a few classes initially, picking up the odd tip and trick, then creating your own workout at home is great. Even better, you can do it all in secrecy and in the privacy of your own home.
I’ve been doing Les Mills Body Pump classes for 5 years now and can honestly say there’s no other workout I prefer. If left to my own devices in the gym, I tend to get embarrassed that I’m not lifting properly, or I haven’t done enough; with Body Pump, I feel exhilarated and knackered by the end of every class.
These sessions are as challenging as you make them. I’ve upped and upped the weight so I often squat the heaviest in my class (I’ve always been an over-achiever). By slowly increasing your resistance each week, you’ll notice a huge change in your stamina and your body.
How do I lift weights without bulking up?
It is incredibly difficult to become ‘bulky’ as a woman, unless you are specifically focusing your workouts and your diet to become larger. My biceps have grown over the years, but the one thing I’ve noticed more than anything is that everything wobbles a lot less
One of the main outcomes with weightlifting is that it builds muscle, but it also burns fat, as your metabolism becomes faster. This means you’ll look trimmer and far from muscly. Remember, lifting light won’t progress you any further in the long run – challenge your body!
Is weight training more effective than cardio?
Whether ‘effective’ is the right word is a different story, but weightlifting certainly helps you build strength and create that trim physique, rather than simply burning calories that cardio offers.
Weight training also provides you with a plethora of other benefits too. Flexibility, balance, improvements in your sleep and mood, as well helping with age-related health problems, such as sarcopenia and osteoporosis.