Many women shy away from the weights in fear that lifting weights will make them ‘bulky’. This is not true ladies! If you want to lose that belly and tone up your body, lifting weights is the way to do it! Nutrition and cardiovascular exercise is just as important – but if you really want to see a change in your body then adding strength training into your routine is a must!
Benefits of Strength Training
- Increases your metabolism so you burn calories even when you are sitting on the couch watching tv – the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn!
- Increases muscle tone giving you a lean, sculpted body
- Strengthens your bones
- Helps you avoid injuries
- Reduces blood pressure
- Improves glucose metabolism which can assist in the prevention of adult onset diabetes
What you need to know
1. Amount of weight: To build muscle and/or burn fat you need to challenge your muscles. You need to lift weight or use resistance bands that are heavy enough so you can only perform the desired amount of repetitions – this is extremely important! Many women pick up 5lb dumbells expecting to get a lean body – it doesn’t work that way! You need to lift heavy! Don’t worry – you will not get bulky, but what you will get is sculpted defined muscles.
An example: If you are performing a squat doing 12 reps, by the 12th rep you should feel like you cant do any more. If you feel like you could have busted out another 5 reps then you need to increase your weight.
2. Rest: You always want to take a 48 hour rest period before lifting weights again. For example: If you are doing a whole body workout, do it on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
3. Equipment: You can use either dumbbells, a barbell or resistance bands. If you are on a tight budget, I recommend resistance bands. They are cheap and you can take them with you anywhere! But remember to get a set that comes with interchangeable bands giving you multiple levels of resistance.
Resistance bands: These are a great option if you don’t want to buy separate dumbbells – and they are affordable! Try to find a set that has difference resistance levels, like the Black Mountain Resistance Band Set which can be found online.
Dumbbells: Dumbbells are relatively inexpensive and you can find them at a local sports shop. If you only want to
buy one pair of dumbbells, I suggest a 5-7kg (10-15lb) pair.
Stability Ball: These come in very handy at home. You can perform ab exercises or use it as a weight bench.
If you want to get serious: If you want to make working out a lifetime thing and you are looking to build up a home gym, the best investment I have made is Bowflex SelectTech Dumbbells. They aren’t cheap, but they do beat having different pairs of dumbbells laying around the house!
How often should I strength train?
If you are doing full body weights then I recommend 3x a week or at least twice per week. A split can be done up to 6 times per week.
Which strength training program should I try? Full body or a split?
You have probably seen many fitness competitors or fitness models that do what is called a 3, 4, 5 or 6 day ‘split’. A split is where your weight training is divided up into different body parts on different days. Split routines are very popular with regular gym goers that are
1. Looking to increase muscle mass by training a specific body part to its maximum which also allows for maximum recovery.
2. Create muscle symmetry (for fitness competitions) allowing them focus on a particular body part that may need extra attention.
3. For a routine change or personal preference.
A split routine may look something like this
Monday: Back & Biceps
Tuesday: Legs & Glutes
Thursday: Chest & Triceps
Saturday: Legs & Glutes
A full body weights workout is good for those of you who are wanting to lose body fat. Full body weight training will keep your heart rate elevated, giving you a cardio effect. If you prefer to do full body weights then I recommend trying PHA training. At the end of the day it all comes down to preference. If you prefer to do a split over a full body workout, then by all means do that.
Below is a free downloadable Strength Training Log to help you keep track of your strength workouts.
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