Take one look on Facebook or Instagram and you will see that women’s fitness is evolving. Out go the hours of cardio and quick fix fad diets and in come women lifting weights with sustainable eating plans.
Strong not skinny is the desired look, and its finally fashionable to have a butt and strong thighs.
Maybe, you’ve already thought about putting some weight training into your workout.
You may have even tried a few machines or picked up a barbell when you feel confident enough to squeeze in the free weights zone. But for some, this area still seems a little daunting.
It’s time to put that fear and uncertainty aside. Bring on that strong, determined and confident attitude, and let's lift, sisters!
The Benefits of Weight Training...
- Weight lifting is extremely efficient for fat loss – strength training burns calories during and after a workout as we create after burn (known as EPOC - Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption, in case you were wondering!)
- The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn day to day. A lean muscle mass means optimum calorie burn.
- Want MURVES? That fine balance between muscle and curves? Introduce strength training into your routine and you’ll start to see changes that you will love. You will tighten up everywhere and start to sculpt your body. Squat for a better butt!
- As we age, we start to lose bone and muscle mass and this increases risk of osteoporosis. Resistance training is an awesome way to combat this!
- Need to go let off steam? Go lift! – studies indicate that weightlifting improves mood and memory as well as cognitive functions. It’s the ultimate buzz!
Many women still think that they should avoid weight training because they are afraid of getting “big”. This is a common misconception but it’s so far from the truth.
Most women develop toned muscle definition and strength without the size through a great weight training programme. It takes time to find a lifting regime that works for you, but you'll certainly reap the benefits. Because pounding the treadmill for half an hour is so last season!
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.
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!
Women's Weight Training Classes
Attending a strength based class is a great way to learn the ropes when it comes to weight training. Here are a few to try out:
Les Mills BodyPump
BodyPump features a combination of scientifically-backed moves, motivating instructors and great music. Using a variety of weights and plenty of repetition you'll shape, tone and strengthen the body.
Les Mills GRIT Strength
GRIT Strength is a 30-minute high-intensity fitness class, that helps you to burn fat and target all major muscle groups through a combination of barbells, weight plates and body weight exercises.
Les Mills Barre
Combining classic ballet positions with high repetitions of slight movements using very light weights, Barre can improve posture and help shape your body.
Browse all of the classes on offer at your local Village Gym here.
Book your spot at these strength based classes or try at home On Demand via the Village Gym app.