What makes me happy? Well apart from my husband and kids the next things on the list is exercise (obviously)! Not just any kind of exercise it has to be rowing on a Concept2 and lifting that barbell! I love the feeling I get when I stack the weight plates onto that barbell and lift, it makes me feel strong, fit and really does improve my mental health along with rowing. A Lot of people think that women in particular should only be lifting the 1-2 kg dumbells, using lots of reps. I totally wholeheartedly DISAGREE!
Lifting heavy reps for less reps and sets can change your body shape and knock inches off too, the two lady clients that use my strength program have definitely seen a real change in their body shape and also more importantly their confidence. It is a great feeling when one week you are struggling to lift 40 kg on a deadlift and then the next you manage it, yes there maybe some puffing but you DID IT!
I can remember when I first started lifting and my Dad told me to be careful as I didn’t want to get too muscly - this too is a myth. Women have less testosterone than men so they can’t build as much muscle as men - unless they get some extra chemical help or you eat to bulk up either of these are by choice and are an extra activity you have to do as well as lift The muscle you WILL build whilst lifting as a women will be lean and this muscle will burn calories and also your metabolism will get higher leading to an increase of calorie burning! It will tone you up and change the way your body looks, it will make your bum perter - due to the barbell squats, it will make your all-important core stronger - due to deadlifts and it will make your arms toned - say goodbye to bingo wings!!
Another reason to start lifting the barbell, and I think it's actually more important than changing your body shape, is that resistance exercises such as lifting weights will improve your bone strength. This is massively important for anyone later in life but more so women who after the menopause have the added risk of the chronic bone disease Osteoporosis (softening of bones). When women get older their bones after the menopause can get weaker and if you’ve been lifting in your exercise programs this could improve your chances of your bone strength staying the same. Even if you haven’t lifted in the past you can start now and improve and increase the density in your bones, making them much more healthy and less likely to fracture or break if you fall in older age.
The next reason is for all you couch to 5k runners out there. The thing is ladies what your doing is great BUT you need to strengthen the muscle and connective tissues around your joints. Once you start doing this then the risk of any joint issues - particularly knees of ankles decreases dramatically. Your joints become stronger and you may even get faster!
Lifting weights helps improve your balance and posture. The compound lifts such as the squat or deadlifts will strengthen your back, core and shoulders, straightening your posture and getting rid of any hunch and enabling you to stand taller. A stronger back and core will also prevent lower back pain which is a major issue for some people!
Making you feel happy is an added extra to lifting weights as it release the all- important Endorphins, these are neurotransmitters that prevent pain, improve mood, and fight depression. An increase in endorphins naturally reduces stress and anxiety. Endorphins also stimulate the mind, improving alertness and boosting energy. Weight-training can brighten your entire day or help you combat a bad one, it sure does help with mine even when I have to lift in a cold garage gym, I may go in feeling cold,tired and not 100% into it but after 50 mins with my trusted barbell I feel energised!
So there’s lots of reasons why women should start lifting, if your thinking about it make sure you find the right guidance and support. Get your technique perfect, and you will look and feel a million dollars - trust me!