If you have been thinking of adding weight training to your regular workout, ladies, you are not alone. Thanks to the 2012 Olympics and athletes like Jessica Ennis, we have all seen how weight training can mean sculpted and lean, not big and bulky. Strength training is excellent for shredding fat and boosting metabolism, much more so than cardio alone. At Village Gym, we offer a number of classes to strengthen and tone the muscles, so whether you are looking for low impact weight training or a full-body blitz, we have something for every woman.
Perhaps you have already tried weights, either using a resistance machine or free weights, and become concerned that you will end up ‘big’ and muscular? Nothing could be further from the truth; you don’t have to be able to deadlift the combined weight of you and your family to be strong and enjoy the benefits of strength training.
It’s high time that those fears and misconceptions were put to bed, since after all, who doesn’t want to fit into their jeans and be able to play with your kids without being able to lift them up.
The Benefits of Weight Training
Resistance and free weight training can bring benefits to all areas of your life, not just the parts that may be physically demanding. Adding strength training to your regular fitness routine can leave you feeling more confident, healthier and stronger.
That all sounds great, doesn’t it, but how does weight training work exactly?
- Strength training is far more efficient than cardio when it comes to weight loss. Calories continue to be burned off, for up to several hours, after the session has finished and not just during. This sounds too good to be true, but it really is. As our muscles repair themselves after a strength training workout, they are burning calories. How long this continues depends on the intensity of the session.
- The more muscle that you actually have, the more calories you will burn. In fact, simply having muscle can burn off extra calories, even between sessions, as they are consuming calories to just maintain themselves.
- If you are aiming for a balance between feminine curves and muscle, then strength training alongside your regular routine is going to produce the kind of look that you desire. Your body is going to start tightening up in all the right places, sculpting itself as you work it.
- Health complications can be avoided too. The risk of osteoporosis increases as women get older. This is due to the lowering of our bone and muscle mass. Strength training is a highly effective way to combat that.
If you are feeling a little apprehensive, don’t worry - it’s perfectly natural to feel that way. Suddenly adding weights to your routine is not quite as simple as just hitting a button on a treadmill, but it doesn’t have to be difficult, either. Resistance bands are a great way to ease yourself in, as are light dumbbells and kettlebells. Village Gym is great for beginners and our Nice and Easy class is perfect for women who are just returning to exercise or wanting to get into light weight training. This class is particularly low impact and easy to follow so no one will feel out of place.
Weight Training for Beginners
Here are two simple weight-based exercises that you can try which are great for beginners and can be easily modified as you become more confident.
The Arm Curl
Arm curls are very versatile, in that you can use just about anything; barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells, a heavy book, or a large bottle of water – basically anything that provides resistance to the muscle. Whatever you choose, don’t go too heavy – the aim is to sculpt and strengthen, not to go big.
Muscles worked: biceps (front of the upper arm), brachialis and brachioradialis (lower arm muscles).
Have your palms facing your thighs (complete with weight in each hand), stand with feet shoulder width apart and brace your core.
In a controlled movement, no jerking, lift one weight toward your shoulder, rotating your arm as you move the weight up from the elbow. When the weight reaches your shoulder, your palm should be facing you with your elbow pointing to the ground.
Lower the weight back to the start position and repeat with the other arm.
Try this 5 times (repetitions) per arm, 3 times (sets). If this is too easy then try 10 reps, or if it’s too hard try 2 sets.
2. The Weighted Squat
Chances are that you already incorporate the squat into your routine, but what about a weighted squat? This modification is great for those new to weight training and can help further strengthen some key areas of the body.
Muscles worked: erector spinae (a group of back muscles), gluteus maximus, hamstrings, quadriceps, core muscles groups, arms and shoulders.
With a comfortable weight in each hand, held by the sides of the body with arms straight without locking the elbows, stand with your feet shoulder width apart.
Engage your core muscles as you bend at the hip. As you begin to bend, push your hips out and behind you. Your knees will start to move forward – this is perfectly normal but don’t allow your knees to move beyond your toes. Keep your core muscles contracted in order to maintain balance.
Lower yourself as much as you can, bringing your bottom in line with your thighs and knees if you can, before slowly coming back up to the start position.
Try to do 15 of these for 3 sets, counting to 3 on your way down and on your way up.
Just these two weight-based exercises are enough to get you on your weight training journey, and show you that strength training does not have to mean bodybuilding!
Interested in finding out how weight training can give you a toned and fit physique whilst having fun? Then check out our classes at a Village Gym near you.