Strength training is one of the most effective ways to burn calories, lose fat, and gain lean muscle mass. Many women steer clear of weight training because they don’t want to appear “manly” or overly muscular. This is a huge myth. Women can train with weights and achieve the exact amount of muscle mass they want without turning themselves into the Hulk. When done properly, strength training can be a huge benefit for women’s physical well-being. Weight lifting has also been shown to help greatly with bone density issues, even in the elderly and post-menopausal women!
Before you go rushing to the gym, we want to make sure that you are safe when you lift. First and foremost, as always, consult with a doctor before beginning any exercise program. If you have previous injuries lifting weights may exacerbate those injuries, so be sure you have clearance from your doctor before starting. It’s always best to take a few weight lifting classes if your gym offers them. It is well worth the investment.
One of the most important things you need to remember when lifting weights is to use proper form. Learning and incorporating proper lifting form will make your movements more efficient and beneficial while preventing you from injuring yourself. Take the time to learn proper form from the get-go rather than having to relearn how to lift properly later on. It’s a good idea to work with a trainer with an excellent reputation and at least a few years of experience when you are first starting out. That way you can make sure you are learning from the best and can have all of your questions answered properly.
Next, be sure you stick to basic exercises when starting out. Don’t try anything fancy or try to lift too much weight to impress your buddies. You’re just going to end up hurting yourself. Stick to a few basic exercises for the first few months as you are learning form and function. Once you have the basics down pat, feel free to add in a few more exercises. Here are a few exercises that would be a great starting point for beginners:
- Body Weight Squat
- Abdominal Crunches
- Glute bridge
In the beginning, use this short list of exercises (or substitute similar ones) to build your strength and master your form. Don’t worry about “confusing your muscles”…at this point you just need to focus learning the basics. The rest will come. Starting out your focus should be on getting stronger.
Building strength is going to help you progress from the basic list of exercises above to more extensive workout programs. Maybe your gym has a bootcamp type class that everyone is raving about. Most beginners don’t have the strength to make programs like a circuit training type bootcamp effective. Building your strength first will increase your performance and your self-esteem when it comes time to sign up for that bootcamp class.
Consistency is the key to progress in anything in life. Just as you can’t get a book written when you don’t write every day, you can’t expect great results from your lifting program when you only work out for 2 hours a week.
Be sure to set aside time at least 3-5 days a week for a serious, uninterrupted workout. Set your focus on your workout…on your progress, form, goals…leave everything else at the door. This time is for you!
When it comes to setting goals, make sure you are realistic. It’s a good idea to set long-term as well as short-term goals for yourself. This will help you feel like you have accomplished something instead of becoming discouraged. If you enjoy running, start by signing up for a 5K. Don’t go straight for the marathon! Little by little you will see yourself progress and before you know it you will be knocking goals off of your list left and right!
The most important tip we can give you is to simply get started! Showing up is half the battle when it comes to working out. Make working out a priority. Strength training is something that, when done consistently and with proper form, can show you the biggest results in the shortest amount of time. So what are you waiting for? Get out there and get lifting!