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Weight Training - It's Not Just For The Boys!

Weight Training - It's Not Just For The Boys!

It is now recognised by experts that aerobic exercise alone is not enough to keep you healthy and prevent bone loss and injuries. Weight training is an excellent aid to fitness and a great way to burn calories, build muscle, decrease body fat, strengthen your bones and improve your cardiovascular fitness. And it’s not just for Olympic athletes and serious body builders and certainly not just recommended for men. Weight training is particularly beneficial for women for the following reasons: -


The Benefits

  • It can strengthen your muscles without adding bulk. In general, women don’t want to get too muscly and if you train with weights, you won’t suddenly wake up with bulging biceps. Instead your muscles will become more defined and toned and your shape will be enhanced. Women have far lower levels of the hormone testosterone in their bodies than men, which means their muscles are less likely to become thick and bulky like a man's. And let's face it, excess body fat can make you look pretty bulky too!
  • It increases your bone density – particularly important to stave off osteoporosis in later life, when oestrogen levels fall after the menopause. As we age our bones tend to thin and become more brittle and weight bearing exercises strengthen your bones and help to prevent bone fractures and breaks.
  • It builds strength so that you can perform everyday tasks such as lifting and carrying with ease, and makes activities like swimming, running and paddleboarding more enjoyable, as you will find you can do pretty much anything you want because you have confidence in your body.
  • It helps you to lose surplus body fat. When you lift weights you create microscopic tears in the muscle fibres. This triggers a process called “muscle protein synthesis”, which uses amino acids to repair the fibres and which requires extra calories and energy. Your metabolic rate therefore increases as body fat turns into muscle and this is a long-term effect, so you burn more calories even when you’re at rest.
  • It's good for your heart and benefits the joints by providing stability.
  • The mental health benefits for women are fantastic too. Women who lift also tend to support one another; it's a community and it's empowering.

How To Get Started

  • The most important thing is to start with a personal trainer, who can teach you how to move safely with a structured plan to help you achieve your goals and prevent injuries or fatigue. Most women have spent a fortune on a wardrobe full of clothes, most of which they never wear. According to research, that's mainly because we're keeping them until we lose weight. It seems much more rational to invest less in clothes and more on the body that goes in them, and a personal trainer can be a real investment in your health and appearance.
  • Learning to move and lift safely is vital when using any weight bearing exercise. If you do not use the correct technique, you can incur injuries which may take a long time to put right again. PTs can also assess any issues you may have whilst performing a movement, as they are are trained to look for weaknesses and to find a way to fix them.
  • There are definitely wrong ways to lift weights, which unfortunately, fitness professionals see every day. People commonly use machines incorrectly because they happened to see an exercise on Instagram performed by someone who had no formal training. This can be bad for both your body and for the machine.
  • A personal trainer can help you learn why you are doing an exercise, what it's for and what muscles are working. Every woman is different and should be assessed individually before suitable starting weights and sensible repetitions can be established. You should then take it slowly, increase the weights in small stages and asking our friendly staff for help when you need it. Once you're more confident, lift enough weight until the last two or three reps of a set are tough.


Helpful Classes

Strength training is super-effective and three times a week for 45 to 60 minutes is enough.

Make use of your gym intro and free half hour with a personal trainer, which are included in your gym membership, to find out more about weight training. And look out for workshops and classes, such as Apex Strength, Hour of Power and Power Bar, which incorporate weights in fun exercise routines with a supportive group and an experienced trainer on hand to help you.

Things To Watch Out For

If you're pregnant or a new breastfeeding mum, take extra care and get professional help with weight training. Post-partum women's bodies produce a hormone called relaxin, which makes your joints move more freely.

Finally, don't avoid weight training because you think it's too difficult. As enthusiastic weight trainer and PT, Cheryl Parker, who kindly helped with this blog, says, "Weight training is so rewarding, measurable as a goal and the results speak for themselves!"

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