Why women should lift weights – and here’s how to do it without looking like a body builder
If you love health and fitness then you most likely follow Bradley Simmonds on Instagram. He is the go-to fitness guru for the world’s best athletes. Bradley breaks down why women should embrace weightlifting and how they can do it without resembling a body builder.
Despite being controversial to some, #StrongNotSkinny is a hashtag associated with 6.9million Instagram posts alone.
This is pretty solid proof of our desire to gain muscle tone and get strong, which in my opinion is a lot more positive than working out to get as skinny as possible. Here’s why….
Muscle mass diminishes with age and if you don’t maintain or increase your muscle mass, it is replaced with an increased body fat percentage. So regardless of your age, it is important to keep your muscle tone; this can only be achieved through strength and resistance training.
Not only that, including weights in your weekly workout regime can help prevent injuries as they protect your joints, increasing your balance and coordination, as well as reducing your risk of diseases such as osteoporosis.
Lifting weights can strengthen your bones, not just your muscles! This is so important because as we get older our, bone density can drop, so keeping them strong by weight lifting, strength training or resistance training can actually help slow down the process.
So although it is easy to assume we’re focusing on the aesthetic benefits we gain through this style of training, building muscle through weight training is actually extremely beneficial for our short and long-term health.
The link between weightlifting and weightloss
A lot of people ask me if they should be lifting weights if they want to lose weight and it is important to highlight the importance of weight training for those who want to lose weight.
Weight training actually increases your resting metabolic weight, so after a weight session, your body is still burning energy in the form of calories and therefore fat, whilst also building that all-important muscle mass.
You’ll find strengthening your core muscles and muscles in general makes exercise a lot more comfortable for those who are overweight as the body can support itself a lot better.
So, where are we going wrong?
I believe varying your exercise styles allows you to increase your cardiovascular capacity, build your strength and therefore makes you a much more well rounded, fit and healthy individual.
If you focus solely on cardio, you’ll eventually burn not only fat but also your muscle mass; you want to avoid this by including strength training into your weekly routine.
If you focus solely on weight training, you may be neglecting your cardiovascular fitness, your heart, one of the most important muscles in the human body.
Therefore I recommend switching it up, focusing on different body parts on different days so that you’re not over working the same muscles e.g. glutes and legs and also incorporating both HIIT & LISS style cardio training several times a week also.
This is why I love functional training; it incorporates cardio and weight training together really well.
How to lift weights without bulking…
It takes a lot for a woman to look like a body builder due to the high levels of estrogen in the body, so you really shouldn’t worry and in fact should start incorporating weights into your workouts right away! There are so many benefits. Here is how you can begin…
Body weight exercises
If you’re not confident initially with the idea of lifting weights, you can begin by carrying out bodyweight exercises such as press ups, squats and lunges. If you want to build muscle to enhance your shape and strength, free weights are a lot more beneficial.
This style of training is very common now, using barbells, dumbbells, weight bars, slam balls, sand bags etc. You’re essentially adding weight to certain exercises in order to push your body and muscles; it is this process that helps the muscle to grow.
Top tips for weight training
1. Get your technique right – this is so important. If you don’t get your technique right, you risk injuring yourself and it’s unlikely that you’ll see results. Ask a personal trainer, gym assistant or search online for the correct technique.
2. Ease yourself in – build up your strength, don’t overdo it to the point you can’t train for the rest of the week. You need to find the right size weight so that it is working the muscle but not exhausting them.
3. Make sure you’re fueling your body – it is so important to make sure you are replenishing your muscles with enough protein and sustaining energy levels with complex carbs. Your diet is so important.