Ladies, Lift the Weights

 

Lift those weights, ladies (and guys)!

Hey fans, so here’s a little bit of background on me. When I started regaining my fitness back in 2015, I was only focused on one goal: looking and feeling better. I didn’t care how it came about as long as I saw some changes that helped my mindset around how I looked and felt.

The dvd programme I was following (21 Day Fix, still a classic) incorporated weights and so I got some to follow along. It wasn’t until I was much further along the path that I came to understand just how crucial it is to not only build resistance (or weight) training into your regime, but to focus on it. That’s why now, my niche is female strength training and kettlebells. Put simply, I feel passionately that this is something every single woman out there should be doing for their health.

Let’s start with the definition of ‘weight training.’ It’s no secret that I lift heavy weights. I am not a power lifter by any means, but I do love having the ability to squat, deadlift, press and swing extremely heavy weights. But that’s not for everyone, and it’s not what I mean when I tell you to ‘lift the damn weights.’ Resistance training can take multiple forms; your own body is a damn hard thing to move! Try pulling it up, or pushing it up from the ground. Try slow squats with a hold at the bottom, or holding a plank. If you can hold up your body, you can hold up your life. Start with the basic body weight moves and you’ll soon be able to progress, but it is crucial to get those basic movement patters (squat, hinge, press) right before you add weight.

For some, light to moderate dumbbells will prove more than enough resistance to work with. For others, resistance bands or household objects can suffice if a full gym isn’t available. You might find you really enjoy using resistance machines in the gym, or you love swinging kettlebells about… it doesn’t matter which path you pick, the point is that you do something to move your body in such a way that it has to work against resistance of some kind.

So what do you get out of lifting weights? Well first of all, ladies, I can tell you what you won’t get, and that’s bulky. Women simply don’t produce enough testosterone to bulk up like men do. You can increase muscle size and physique (hello booty gains), but it would take an extremely dedicated individual, with years of practice and a strict training and nutrition protocol to look muscly. And even then, no female out there looks ‘bulky,’ just beautiful, powerful, and strong.

Photo by justjamesmedia.com

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be going into more detail regarding weight training for more specific areas of the population, such as post-natal women, peri and menopausal women, and the older generation, but for now, here’s a brief (but by no means exhaustive) list of the benefits, and a reminder that ‘lifting weights’ can take many forms, from heavy gym sessions to group exercise classes using hand weights:

Fat loss: If you lift weights, you build lean muscle. The more lean muscle you have, the better your metabolism will work meaning you’ll burn more calories throughout the day.

Strength: Being strong is such an amazing thing! Knowing your body is capable of holding you up, or you can carry your child, or lift those heavy shopping bags… we need strength for all sorts of daily living tasks, and resistance training gives you that.

Mental health: The endorphins released from exercise lift your mood. It’s a proven fact that exercise can aid mental health. If nothing else, it can help take your mind off life for a while, and very often can provide some mental clarity to the situation.

Sleep: Lift weights, sleep better.

Reduce injury, back pain, arthritis and more: Weight training increases muscle mass, bone density and joint stability. For women, resistance training coupled with a good diet and adequate calcium, is the best defence against osteoporosis. Oh, and if you think you can’t squat because you have a bad back… that’s exactly the reason you should be squatting.

If you’re reading this thinking you’ve left it too late to start, you haven’t. Resistance training helps preserve muscle mass and bone density, something that can decrease as we age and become more sedentary. The knock on effect of that, is that we preserve our independence, ease pain, and improve quality of life. In short, you’ll be able to lift, carry and play with your grandkids in old age. You’ll be able to reach things in high cupboards, or squat down low to feed the cat. Hell, one of the most important benefits to staying mobile and strong into old age is simply that you won’t need someone else to wipe your bum.

If you’re unsure where to start, or what exercises might be suitable, drop me a message to ask for advice. There’s so many options out there, and I’ll be happy to help you find what works best for you.

 

 

 

 

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