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Why women should hit the weights (and where to start)

Guest post by Ali Paton of mybigfitdiary.com

If you’re after more from your exercise routine than spending countless hours slogging it away on the stair master - then weight lifting could be for you.

It can be daunting stepping into the weight room for the first time, what with the scary looking machines and all those heavy weights you can’t even imagine ever being able to move. And that’s not to mention all that testosterone flying around, the grunting, and all of the posing - sounds terrifying right? Wrong! Yes, most men know how to bench press and bicep curl, but generally they’re just as clueless as we are.

And don’t even start with the ‘but I don’t want to get bulky’ business! Remember the testosterone we were just talking about? Well women simply don’t have enough of it to build muscle in the same way as men. With that in mind, here's why you should start hitting the weights.

More muscle = more calories burnt

Think cardio is the only way to burn calories? Think again! When performing steady state cardio we can burn high amounts of calories but as soon as you step off the treadmill that calorie burn stops and your metabolic rate returns to normal. However studies have shown that strength training helps to keep your metabolism elevated long after your workout is finished¹, making it much better ‘value for money’ in terms of calories burnt!

Improved mood

Strength training can release endorphins giving you a boost of energy and helping to improve your mood. This makes it a great form of exercise for those who suffer from anxiety or simply to help you recover after a particularly stressful day at work.

Better bone & heart health

As we age we lose bone tissue and strength increasing the risk of breaks even from a small fall, which is why weight training is important especially in older women. Exercises such as squats, deadlifts and bicep curls put bones under pressure which in turn forces them to change, growing stronger and denser². In terms of heart health, weightlifting helps to lower blood pressure and LDL (bad) cholesterol³ and, as I pointed out earlier can help you to lose weight reducing any added strain you might be putting on your heart.

Overall fitness

All athletes will include weight lifting in their training plan as it helps to develop a stronger core and build more power in the glutes, arms and legs. So whether you’re a swimmer, footballer or gymnast, building a stronger body is a great way to improve your performance!

Ali paton handstand

So now we know why we should be lifting weights - it’s time to tackle how to get started.

How to start a strength routine

Take a class

It’s always easier to do something for the first time in a group setting. You don’t feel like all eyes are on you and the chances are there will be others just starting out too. Joining a body pump class is a great way to get comfortable with picking up weights and can help you to develop your form in the main compound lifts such as squats and deadlifts.

Have a PT session

It can be pretty pricey but it’s worth investing in a couple of sessions with a PT to pick up some ideas on what to do in the weight room. Again they can show you how to lift with good technique which can help build up your confidence and prevent you from getting injured when you do go it alone.

Go with a friend

Everything is easier with a friend. You can help each other out and who knows, you may have a friend who already knows a little about lifting and can give you some tips.

Ask for help

Don’t be afraid to ask for a little help. Maybe you’re struggling to figure out a machine or to get clips on and off the bar. Just find a friendly looking fellow gym goer and ask for some advice… you may even find a new training buddy this way.

Feel the fear and do it anyway!

Find your program, learn the moves and just go for it! You’ve got nothing to lose and a strong sexy body to gain.

Are you ready?

Sources

1) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10939877

2) http://www.naturalnews.com/010528_bone_density_mineral.html

3) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16922820

Ali Paton Author
  • Health and fitness blogger

Alison is a health & fitness blogger, self diagnosed Crossfit addict, food pic obsessive and all round nutrition geek. Visit her blog www.mybigfitdiary.com or check her out on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

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