This week’s blog post is courtesy of the wonderful Kelly Gibson. Hope you enjoy!
The weights room. It can be a scary place for anyone new to strength training. I myself, still get a little intimidated from time to time especially when I compare the weight I am lifting to some of the body builders in my gym. However, there are SO many benefits to strength training and incorporating weight sessions into your training schedule will significantly improve performance and accelerate your results!
I know a lot of ladies are scared to hit the weights room as they don’t want to get ‘bulky’. They stick to the cardio machines and group fitness classes which, don’t get me wrong, are great, but doing hours of cardio won’t get the muscle tone and shape that most of us are looking for. Why? We simply don’t have the testosterone levels required to build significant muscle mass. Men have 7-8 times as much testosterone as women which means that even with a solid strength training regime we simply won’t put on the size the way our male counterparts would.
Following a basic strength training program in combination with regular cardio sessions will not make you ‘bulk up’ but, it will lead to:
- Increased muscle mass and tone (improved shape and definition)
- More energy burnt while at rest (muscle tissue has a higher energy demand that fat tissue)
- Improves joint stability and bone density- especially important as we age as even more so for women
- Decreased body fat
- Increase muscular endurance (so you can get those extra burpees out in a RAW cardio class!)
Starting out can be scary, I get it, but fear not ladies, I am here to break it down for you so you can make a start and become even stronger RAW athletes than you already are!
Weight – the weight you use should be relatively difficult however as a beginner, your focus should be on technique. You should be able to maintain good technique for 15 reps.
Type – as a beginner, you should be doing compound exercises for the most part. Compound exercises require movement at two or more joints. Squats are an example of a compound exercise as there is movement at the hip, knee and ankle joints. Other examples are push ups, seated row or leg press.
Reps, sets and sessions – a typical strength training session for a beginner would involve 2- 3 weight session per week. You should incorporate this with cardio sessions on alternating days.
Strength Exercises for Beginners
1. Squat Press
Pick a medicine ball that you can lift comfortably. With feet hip width apart, lower down into a squat position with the ball at chest height. Push up through your heels to stand upright whilst pushing the medicine ball overhead. Repeat x 15.
2. Push Up
Start in a plank position with your hands under your shoulders. Squeeze your core and glutes hard to maintain a straight line between your head and feet. Lower your torso towards the ground, bending at the elbows. Push back up into the original position. Most beginners will need to start out on their knees instead of toes, still making sure their core is tight and torso is straight.
3. Weighted walking lunges
Pick dumbbell weights that you can comfortably carry. Lunge one foot forward and allow your back knee to fall towards the ground without touching it. Push off your back foot, take a step and lunge forward again. Repeat.
4. Seated Row
Pick a resistance band with medium or light resistance. Sit on the ground with your legs stretched out, wrap the band around your feet. Hold onto the band with both hands and pull back so your elbows move past your ribcage and away from your body. Repeat x 15.