The benefits of resistance training using bodyweight or weights are substantial to the extent that in 2011 the American College of Sports Medicine published guidelines prescribing adults of both genders an exercise regime including muscle strengthening activities 2 or more times a week. Reduced risk of osteoporosis, osteoarthritis and type-2 diabetes are all attributed to resistance training. Furthermore the resulting increase in lean muscle mass speeds up the metabolism transforming the body into a fat burning furnace greatly assisting with weight management.
The reasons for the lack of enthusiasm for weight training amongst the female population possibly include intimidation from stereotypical bodybuilders using the weights area in the gym, a lack of understanding of how to go about working out with weights and concerns that we will ‘bulk up’.
In seeking to overcome the challenges preventing women from choosing weight training as an integral part of our fitness regime it will help to understand a little more about the impact on our bodies, what we need to do to train effectively and the options available to us.
Rest assured that due to much lower levels of testosterone a woman’s hormonal make up is not designed to add large amounts of bulky muscle mass. Instead the benefits of a shift in relative proportions of lean muscle mass and fat will result in improved muscle definition and tone, increased strength and more than likely a reduction in dress size as the body becomes more sculpted in appearance.
Technique is all-important when working out with weights, so make sure you can perform exercises such as squats and lunges safely and effectively before adding extra resistance. Start with a light weight and build it up gradually. Don’t be shy of progressing to heavier weights though. To promote health benefits such as improved bone strength you need to push a reasonable weight.
For the best results get your fitness professional to check out what you are doing. Kettlebell Classes are a great alternative to the gym and you’ll get a fab cardio workout too. Online workouts are another option particularly if you are short of time. You can follow a balanced set of resistance exercises with plenty of advice on technique. Check out Inspire Me Fit’s Online Fitness Membership Page, which includes workouts with weights and kettlebells http://www.inspiremefit.co.uk/about-online-fitness.html
Dumbells and kettlebells can be bought quite cheaply at TK Maxx, sometimes Aldi, Tesco Direct or Amazon. Check out buy and sell groups on Facebook for a bargain purchase!
Working out with Weights: Exercise Recommendations
These recommendations are appropriate to women incorporating resistance training to optimise health and contribute to fat loss / weight management.
1-3 Sets of 12 - 16 Reps
Intermediate / Advanced
1-3 Sets of 10 – 12 Reps
Use enough weight so that you can only complete the recommended sets and reps. If you feel like you could do more at the end of your final set then your weight is too light. Bear in mind that ideally you will need different weights for different exercises. You will be able to push a much heavier weight for predominantly leg exercises such as squats, compared with arm exercises such as a tricep press.
Start with 1 set at the lowest number of reps and build up to the maximum number of reps. Progress to 2 sets at the lowest number of reps and again, build up to the maximum number, and so on.
With over 20 years experience in the fitness industry, Debbie's philosophy is to provide results driven, progressive but functional training solutions that fit in to our