Women’s weight training is, thankfully, on the rise with more and more women waking up to the fact that to achieve the toned look they want, they need to start training more like men. Jane Fonda style workouts of high reps of light weights or endless hours on the treadmill will make you sweaty but will never help you build the tight, lean muscle and burn the excess fat that creates a sculpted figure.
Knowing where to start is often the biggest obstacle to taking that first step into the weights room, so here are three tips from The Fitting Rooms on how to get the most from your workouts…
The first pointer for any woman first starting out with weight training is to focus on the big-bang-for-your-buck compound exercises which use multiple muscles across multiple joints since these are the most effective exercises to build strength, build lean muscle and burn fat. The most important exercises to learn are the squat and the deadlift, however they can also be the most dangerous if performed incorrectly so if unsure always seek professional guidance, and make sure to invest in some fairly decent lifting shoes as they will become more important as you start to build your physique and concentrate on posture and muscle groups.
When it comes to your workout, one of the biggest mistakes is to just make it up on the day. Ten years ago trainers like Shaun T, who created the ‘Insanity’ workouts, popularised the concept of ‘muscle confusion’ claiming that the body responds best by constantly changing your workouts to “confuse” your muscles so that the body has to adapt. Fortunately knowledge has moved on a lot since those days with trainers and athletes acknowledging that since it takes the body up to six weeks to fully adapt to a new movement, workouts must be programmed over time to see the best results. So, rather than mixing it up every time you go to the gym, get yourself a programme and follow it for at least four week before moving on to a new phase. There are plenty of programmes online to follow or, for a really tailored programme, speak to a trainer in your gym so that they can write a plan that works around your body and your goals.
In terms of training programmes, German Body Composition training is one of the most effective methods to create lean, strong and fit bodies making it an ideal starting point. It involves pairing upper and lower body exercise for between 8 – 15 reps with short rest periods of 30 – 60 seconds between each so that the blood is kept circulating for the duration of the workout. The short rest periods cause an increase in lactic acid production resulting in a rise in the release of Growth Hormone which is what tells your body to burn stored fat and build muscle. Choose 3 pairs of exercises for the whole workout and make sure you use controlled movements throughout so that you can feel the muscles stretch and contract. A good example would be to do 12 squats, rest for 45 seconds, do 12 pull-ups, rest for 45 seconds and repeat until you’ve done 3 sets of each, then move on to your second pair of exercises.
Improved body composition, increased metabolism and greater bone density, which is especially important for women who are prone to osteoporosis later in life, are all compelling reasons for women to get into weight training, but in our opinion even greater is the effect it can have on you mentally. Over the years we have seen that as women get stronger they become more confident in all aspects of life. The knowledge that you can carry your heavy suitcase up a flight of stairs or put together a flat-pack wardrobe without help is worth getting out your comfort zone for.