Amp up the muscle by the minute: Women raising the bar
Photography courtesy of Rich Maciver
A large percentage of women avoid strength training as they’re convinced that cardio is more effective, or because they have been conditioned to believe that weights will ‘bulk’ their bodies with additional muscle.
This could not be further from the truth - lifting weights helps to improve lean body composition and accentuates natural shape. It is actually very difficult for women (even if they wanted to) to put on a huge amount of size.
Aside from the physical benefits, lifting weights and feeling yourself getting stronger makes you feel more confident, focused, and so mentally clear and powerful that it’s my mission to fight against the stigma associated with women lifting weights!
The to-do list for strength training
It builds and maintains muscle mass. It improves your mood and mental health. Also, strength training supports weight loss and weight management. Lifting weights helps you to burn calories more efficiently even when you are not lifting. And it’s good for stronger joints and general health too.
Raise your self-esteem
Aside from the health benefits such as increased bone density and better posture, and physically looking great, for me the number-one reason women should lift weights is the sense of confidence it brings. This positive impact on mood and mental health, particularly at the moment, is empowering. That’s why I created the Strong Body Academy, prior to launching Grndhouse this year, designed for women to realise their strength.
At Grndhouse we are the first fitness platform dedicated to strength training. The workouts follow a weekly programme and each day is geared around a key muscle group. They range in length from 30 to 45 minutes, and are designed to empower and build our clients up – so it is the perfect introduction for anyone looking to start lifting weights.
There is no one-size-fits all with selecting weights for someone new to lifting. It’s better to start on the lighter side, get confident with correct form and then look to go heavier. Eventually you want to find a challenging but doable weight. Dumbbells are a great piece of kit that are super accessible to all levels and everyone should have a pair in their house or gym set-up.
Two more enlightened women contribute to the less or more weight issue…
Weight training is great for toning and building muscle and, don’t worry, you won’t look bulky. The more muscle you have the more energy it takes to fuel your body, so building muscle can aid in fat loss as well as adding more definition to the body. I also love weight training as it makes me feel strong, which in turn helps me mentally with feeling confident and resilient.
Weight training helps me mentally feel confident Rowan Cheshire
In this post below, I’m training upper body. It’s really important to train all body parts so you don’t get an imbalance. I tend to do an upper body split of push and pull sessions.
The optimum way of building muscle and losing fat is by strength training and lifting weights. You can also build muscle through callisthenics too. Throughout lockdown if you don’t have any access to weights or you’re limited to one dumbbell, this EMOM is a perfect example of how you can add challenge to your body.
You’re in a race with yourself to get the exercise done Ellen Willard
I’m doing an EMOM, which stands for ‘every minute on the minute’, and is from the CrossFit circuit way of doing things. Many people include EMOMs as a quick, easy and fun way of incorporating lifting weights with an endurance-based exercise. They’re a really good option if you’re limited for time because you can get a lot more density into your workout.
An EMOM is adaptable and scalable. And you can scale it to fit with your own capabilities. It’s good because it allows you to manage your fatigue within your training. So it’s a lot of high volume in less time.
In the video I group together a load of leg exercises which also target my core. They also challenge my endurance. When I’m doing the ground to overhead, with the dumbbell, that’s not predominantly leg based but it’s more full body and it tests my endurance more.
What’s good about EMOMs is you can get in a lot of volume but within less time and it builds on your work capacity. So considering the quality in your movements is still present, it allows for you to recover quicker, thus allowing for more room to increase volume and intensity.
Within an EMOM, on the top of the minute you perform the exercise and whatever time you have left of that remaining minute is your rest period. So it actually challenges you a bit more – you’re in a race with yourself to get the exercises done while still having quality within your movements. They’re a good way of grouping together specific body movements to target legs and core. Also, you could do more of a push-based EMOM so sharp shoulders, chest and triceps mixed with core.
Throw endurance in there as well. When you have endurance mixed with weight training, it builds on your work capacity which improves on your efficiency with training.
Ellie wears sportswear by MyProtein.
The views expressed on these pages are the views of the cited experts only and do not necessarily represent the views of Wellness Edit. Please always get a second opinion where specific medical advice is required.
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