Using the cross trainer, treadmill, stair master and lord knows what else as part of a well rounded exercise regime is absolutely fine. But if you are coming to the gym to walk on a treadmill for 45 minutes.... Cancel your gym membership and go to the park!
Last year something magical was happening, ladies migrating from the cardio section to the weights room in bigger numbers than I had ever seen before. But post-lockdown seems to have seen a decline in the amount of women in the weights room. I can of course only speak for the 3 gyms I frequent in Canterbury but the lack of ladies in the functional and free weights section is disappointing. I would love some feedback on why exactly this is? Is it the obnoxious 18 year olds grunting on the bench press putting you off or have you lost a bit of confidence over lockdown? Whatever it is we need to get past this and get back on the gain train ladies!
The benefits that a resistance training program will have for women are on another level! From the prevention of bone density related issues later in life and restoring your abdominal, lower back and pelvic floor muscle groups post pregnancy to simply looking like an absolute badass squatting a ton of weight; there really are endless benefits.
What lifting weights will not do:
- Make you 'bulky' or look like a man.
But let me tell you what lifting weights will do:
- Make you stronger
- Increase your sex drive
- Boost your confidence
- Improve your posture
- Improve your balance
- Give you more energy
- Increase your bone density
.... and so on.
One major obstacle can be lack of direction. It's easy to jump on a treadmill or cross trainer and hit start, especially if you don't feel confident in the gym. I know that many of the ladies that I train have been too scared to lift weights for fear of 'looking stupid', or not knowing how to do anything other than use a cardio machine.
How to start a weight training session can be a little bit tricky but this is why Personal Trainers exist. You do not need to use a Personal Trainer forever. My advice would be to invest in 3 or 4 sessions with the goal of being able to (with confidence) know what you're doing by yourself by the end of the 4 sessions. If however even that sounds a bit daunting, then please do get in touch and I would be happy to point you in the right direction or perhaps offer a session or program.
In my opinion, the best way to increase confidence is to have a plan prior to going to the gym, so you don't feel lost and overwhelmed, and end up back on the cross trainer. This is where our Online Personal Training comes in. We will design a program so you will know exactly what you're doing in the gym, with instructional videos for every exercise. This is the easiest way to get in and out, with no stressing about what you're going to do.
In the meantime, here is a quick outline on how to structure a very basic resistance session:
Step 1. Pick a cardio machine, and take it easy for 3 or 4 minutes to increase your heart rate and get warm. Use this time to have a look around from the comfort of the machine and work out where things are that you need so you know exactly where to go next. If the first exercise on your program needs equipment that is in use, have a look ahead and see if you can swap your session around and do a different exercise first.
Step 2. Make sure all your joints and major muscle groups are mobile and warm by working through a series of dynamic stretches and ranges or motion (lunges, thoracic rotations and glute bridges for example). This is called activation.
Step 3. Pick 4 different exercises, using as many muscle groups as possible (squats, chest press, pull-ups and deadlifts for example).
Step 4. Decide how heavy and how many times you will do the exercise. My advice when starting would be to use only bodyweight for the first set and slowly build up the weight over the next 3-4 sets and stick at around 12-16 reps. (But remember, maintaining good form is always more important than putting lots of weight on the bar).
The details of this are best left to a Personal Trainer for beginners.
Step 5. Cool down and stretch.
You see? Simple! Now that you have some basic structure, go and give it a try. I promise you won't regret it. And as always, if you have any questions please get in touch and I will be happy to address them.