Can I ask you a question?
How often do you do
Regularly? Or do you
tend to skip it in favour of more cardio?
I get it. I remember
one of the first times I went to a gym and had a program written for
me. My fitness instructor had me on all of weight machines with just
a little bit of cardio thrown in at the end.
complaining to my dad for over an hour.
‘I don’t want to
get bulky, I want to lose weight’.
I now know how
important strength training is, especially when you’re trying to
lose weight. But that first fitness instructor didn’t really do a
good job at explaining the benefits of weight training and why I
should be doing it.
But, that’s not
going to happen to you.
I want you to know
everything there is to know about strength training for women. Why
you should be doing it. How it’s going to help you get a stronger
body. How it’s going to get you a leaner, more defined body. How
it’s going to help you get to your fitness goals.
Well, let’s do this…
But before we get
into it, let’s get a common misconception out of the way...
weight training, weight lifting, they are not going to make you look
bulky. They’re not going to make you look like a man. They are
going to help you look firm, toned and athletic.
It’s because you
don’t have enough testosterone to build significant muscle. In fact
us women have 20 times less testosterone than men. Which means we’re
not physically able to build muscle like men.
So don’t worry
about getting bigger.
And don’t forgo weight lifting. It’s so much fun.
If are concerned, have a read of what is a bodybuilder. Bodybuilding isn't just about doing a few heavy squats, or deadlifts. It's a dedicated lifestyle. A conscious decision you have to make.
Before we go any
further I want to ask, do you know what strength training is?
Because you need to
know what you’re getting in to…
or resistance training, or weight training, is any form of exercise
that stresses your muscles.
muscles helps them grow. It helps them get stronger.
So, it’s basically
any form of workout that makes your muscles grow. It is usually
weight-bearing exercise and usually involves lifting weights,
although it isn’t a necessity. Your body weight is actually enough
to strength train, especially if you’re a beginner.
You can get amazingly strong and ripped using just your body weight. But that’s information for another section.
We all know exercise
in general is really good for you.
For your physical
health, heart health, general health and mental health.
But what is it about
strength training that means you should be doing it. Why is it
different to any other type of exercise?
Bone health should
be a priority for all of us women especially as we get older.
It’s not something
any of us want to think about, but at some point our oestrogen levels
will drop as we head into the next big change in our life cycle.
Oestrogen is a
really important part of bone density. So as your levels of oestrogen
drops your bones get more porous and weaker.
stresses your bones as well as your muscles and as it does that it
encourages your bones to grow. And stronger bones mean you can carry
on doing those everyday activities you take for granted now.
It might sound
obvious but I’m going to say it anyway, strength training will
increase your muscle strength.
Why is that
Well, think of all
of things you need muscles for...lifting your kids, lifting and
carrying your shopping, moving furniture around.
Even things like
running, walking, swimming, they can all be made easier with stronger
bloody empowering being strong.
And when you’re
stronger than your husband/significant other, that’s even better.
It’s quite the party piece.
Strength training is
It might seem
counter-intuitive but strength training can help you lose weight.
helps to build lean muscle. Lean muscle has a higher metabolic rate
than body fat. So when you build muscle your metabolic rate
increases. That means the amount of calories your body burns at rest
The more calories
you burn the more weight you’ll lose.
Win. Win. Right?
Ok, I’m going to
let you into a little secret, if you think you want to lose weight,
you probably don’t.
Not just lose weight
You want to build
muscle as well.
losing weight on it’s own won’t get your body firmer. Building
muscle is what’s going to make your body firmer.
So please, if you
want to lose weight, don’t skip the weight training.
If you want to learn more about the benefits of strength training, have a read of health benefits of strength training and losing weight with strength training.
Ok, there’s no
getting around it, you’re going to need some weights.
Yes, your own body
weight will be enough especially in the beginning, but using weights
will double, if not triple, the amount of exercises, or variations to
exercises. And, more variety means more fun.
Well, at least for
I would strongly
advise you to stay away from the lighter weights.
Light weights are
going to be pretty redundant in not very long.
stronger. And you’ll get stronger really quickly. So leave the
light weights alone and go for slightly heavier ones.
Do less reps and
have more rest in between sets.
It will save you
money in the long run, I promise.
I’d also recommend going for free weights rather than barbells or machine weights.
Free weights, dumbbells or kettlebells, have lots of benefits and they’re cheaper. Get adjustable versions if you can. They’ll last you longer and you won’t need as much space to store them.
The other option for strength training is equipment is resistance bands.
They’re a lot
cheaper than free weights and don’t take up much space at all.
If you’re interested in delving deeper into home workout equipment check out outdoor strength training equipment.
As always I suggest
you speak to a personal trainer to make sure you can do all of the
exercises you need to do with proper form.
The risk of injury
increases when you add weight to any exercise so correct form is
can also help devise a workout program that incorporates cardio
workouts, rest days.
Am I selling the
benefits of a personal trainer here?
available to help out if you can’t, or don’t want, to see anyone
I can make sure you
have good form and help build a balanced strength training program
that gets you to your fitness goals. Whatever they are.
But let’s move on…
There are a number
of exercises that you’ll do when you’re strength training, but
essentially they are variations of five basic movements.
We’ll be making the most of all of the variations to keep all of the workouts interesting. But, at their core, they are five movements.
Whether it’s a
bodyweight squat, a goblet squat or an Asian squat, squats are a
classic, and for good reason.
They strengthen you
lower body, your quads, your glutes. They also work your core.
If you have bad knees and struggle to do squats, you might want to start with side leg raises instead.
They're also great for strengthening your legs but, they keep the pressure off your knees. Once your legs are strong enough advance to squats.
The lunge is another
lower body classic, with many, many, many variations.
You might think that
there’s little difference between the squat and lunge, but it is
important that any strength training program you do utilises both.
Whilst they do work
the same big groups of muscles, they do it in different ways.
Doing both will make sure the muscles of your lower body, your lutes, your hamstrings, your quads, are all supper strong.
But, if you've got knee pain, you might want to do something other than a lunge. Never fear, I've got some alternatives for you. Check out alternative for lunges.
Push ups are an
amazing exercise for strength building because they work pretty much
all of the muscles in your upper body.
They are a hard
exercise to master though. The mistake people tend to make with push
ups is concentrating on doing them on your toes rather than your
concentrate on getting your chest as close to the floor as you can.
Starting on your
knees and gradually working up to a full push up.
Don’t rush the
upper body exercise that needs to be part of your program.
The overhead element of this exercise also activates your core muscles. They help with balance when you’ve got heavy weights overhead.
There are lots of benefits of overhead press.
actually much more than an upper body exercise. And they’re fun.
Seeing how much
weight you can push over your head is...well, fun. It’s empowering.
You’ll develop a competitive edge you didn’t know you had before.
I might be saying
something controversial here, but I see rows as accessory exercises.
They’re not really
a sexy move. You can’t really bust out the big weights for them.
But, they are important. Really important.
They help maintain good posture. They help you get stronger in other exercises, and in your everyday activities.
There's no getting away from it, the barbell hip thrust is an amazing exercise.
It strengthens your bum. It makes it more powerful and more peachy.
The problem is, most of us, yes me included, don't have a barbell at home.
So, what can your do?
Don't worry there is an alternative to barbell hip thrust. I've got 6 for you.
How do you feel about your abs? Your belly? You stomach muscles?
After having a baby, they can be a little saggy. Maybe a bit fuller than you'd like.
The problem is, when we're pregnant our ab muscles are stretched beyond all recognition and it takes quite a bit of work to get them back into shape.
But, it's important we do.
And not just for how they look.
Our core is really important. And having a strong one is essential for having a healthy, pain free life. Now, and well into the future.
But how do you train your abs?
Don't worry. There is more to ab workouts than sit ups. In fact I've got 21 alternatives to sit ups.
Exercises that will put a bit more spice into your ab workout.
So, what are you waiting for? Go and have a read and try a few.
The exercises I've mentioned above are what we call compound movements.
They work multiple groups of muscles and multiple areas of the body.
You might not know it, but there are different types of exercises. They're known as isolation exercises.
So, what are they, and which should you be doing?
I clear it all up in compound vs isolation exercises. Have a read.
Ok, shall we get to the workouts?
How do you feel about your bum?
Do you love looking at it in the mirror?
Does it look great in jeans, pencil skirts or leggings?
Or, would you prefer it a bit firmer?
Well, you’re here, so I’m going to guess that you’d like to work on your bum a little bit.
So, I’ve got a 4-week glute workout plan for you, that you can do in the comfort of your own home.
Are you tired of reading the same old exercises to do everyday, and you can't actually do them everyday. Running, Pilates, jogging.
Yeah, I've read them as well.
Well, here are 7 exercises to do everyday. And they are actually exercises you can do everyday.
And what's more, I've included three workout ideas so you don't have to figure out how to do them everyday.
You can just get going on the road to your body transformation, fitness transformation, nailing your goals. Whatever they are.
Do your abs need a bit of strengthening after pregnancy? I've got you covered with these great workouts that hit ALL of the muscles of your core.
Do your core muscles feel a bit soft since having your little one? Maybe it did before you became a mama. I know mine did.
But after going through pregnancy and birth, it’s really important to get that core strong again.
Because if it’s not strong your other muscles will be working overtime to compensate. Lower back hurting much?
When you’ve got a baby, or toddler, who wants picking up, cuddling, tending to, we don’t think too much about correcting lifting techniques, am I right? And when your core isn’t in top form that can lead to a bad back.
So, how do we get rock solid belly? How do we take the strain off our backs?
Your abdominal muscles are made up of four separate muscle groups. When you are doing a full ab workout at home, make sure you are hitting all of these muscles. Doing crunches alone will just not cut it.
Don’t forget your hip flexors and your lower back. They’re technically not considered ab muscles, but they do for part of your core. And you can’t really work on your abs without paying attention to these muscles as well. They may need stretching out. I know mine do, and they will need strengthening.
Be honest with yourself about your goals. Why are your doing your ab workouts? Is it to get a strong core? Or, is it to get rid of the baby belly? Have you got a dream of having a flat, well defined mid region? I’m not judging (I’m definitely in the latter camp), you just need to acknowledge that doing an ab workout by itself is not going to get you that perfectly toned stomach. You will need a well rounded workout program, as well as a healthy balanced diet. But, we’ll talk about that later.
If your arms are
your 'don't like' area, I've got you covered. I know how it feels
when there’s an area of your body you really don’t like.
I know we should be
loving our bodies exactly how they are. I know we’re all beautiful
just how we are. But, it just doesn’t help, does it? You see what
you see, and if you don’t like it you want to change it.
If your arms are your ‘don’t like’ area then I’ve got great news, I've got some workouts that will help.
But, just so we’re clear, these workouts will help you get more toned arms and strong arms IF they are uses alongside a well-rounded workout routine that works your entire body and a balanced diet. So, if you’re new to working out, or you’ve been away from regular exercise for a while, work on those two first. You’ll see better results, faster which will keep you motivated.
The best bodyweight tricep exercises have to be the push up and tricep dips in one form or another. Push ups are a really difficult exercise to do, so don’t be put off if you struggle. You’re supposed to. They’re supposed to be hard. Keep working at them. You will get better at them.
Your triceps are quite a small muscle group so don’t work them too hard in one go. You don’t want to be doing all three of these workouts at once. Supplement your regular workout routine with one of these workouts once, maybe twice a week. Start with the AMRAP and use it as a test to see your improvement.
Are you keen to get going? To get strength training?
I hope so because it such an important part of remaining healthy. And it is so much fun.
Yes, you'll probably get DOMS, but they will easy with time and as you get stronger.
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