This is something I wanted to touch on because I’m a big advocate of lifting weights. Not 1.5kg dumbells to add some resistance to a body weight exercise but nice, heavy weights. At one point I could squat 80kg and deadlift 70kg. I’m a little out of practice on the big weights but it’s so much fun.
Benefits of lifting weights for women
There are so many benefits to going heavy. Here are some of them but I’ll post some resources at the bottom of this page where you can go and do your own research.
- If you lift heavy enough and work big muscles, it’ll count as cardio – Squats are the big one here, get enough weight on your squats and you’ll be very out of breath.
- You’ll build muscle and muscle burns calories
- You’ll burn fat while building muscle – While cardio has its benefits, it can burn muscle as well as fat. Avoid this by working in some strength training to your gym sessions
- You’ll get lean and toned – You won’t look like a body builder, I promise
- Helps build muscle density and combat osteoporosis
- Functional exercise – Weight lifting will help you to climb trees, fight zombies, carry your children/shopping bags, run faster, and hit harder
How to get started
Before you start plonking yourself in the squat rack, you should get used to the basic movements. Body weight exercises are a great way to start, especially if you don’t have much strength to begin with.
If you need to build your confidence then start to use the weight machines in the gym. Just remember that if you can do the same moves with free weights then you’re probably better off doing so.
Then it’s time to start with the bar. Most barbells, when there is no weight on the ends, weigh about 20kg. This is a good place to start once you’ve built up a little strength with body weight exercises, dumbells and machines. Do some research and watch some videos, you’ll start to get a good idea of what you can do. If you’re worried about form, ask someone to film you or enlist the help of a trainer for a couple of sessions, just to show you the basics.
This video from Carly Rowena is a great place to start if you want to start lifting weights.
What weight should I lift?
That all depends on who you are and what you’re doing. My advice would be to start low and move up. Generally, though, we can all lift about 10kg heavier than we think we can. Something I had to remind myself today when Carly set the leg press machine to 70kg. It was hard but I did it.
Check out this article from Nerd Fitness on what weight you should be lifting.
It’s important to lift with correct form. You minimise the risk of injury and you make sure your muscles are getting the most benefit. Do you research so you know what good form looks like. YouTube is the best place for this.
When you’re in the weights area at the gym, try and position yourself in front of a mirror. That way you can check out your own form to make sure it looks like it should.
Here I am deadlifting around 40kg (easing myself back into this!). I could tell from the mirror and this video that I was getting tired. I can see my back starting to round, my chest should be up and back straight throughout.
If you are worried about your form, ask an experienced friend to take a look at your videos or to accompany you to the gym. Failing that, ask someone who looks like they know what they’re doing (although, do bear in mind that they might not…) or hire a personal trainer. Hiring a PT (actually, I’ve had three over the past five years) is the best thing I ever did.
- Nerd Fitness – This is my favourite site ever. This article in particular is brilliant for women who want to lift weights, get toned and be strong. It’s all about Staci who transformed her life and looks though weight lifting.
- The Pleasure Forecast – Resources, guides and how to overcome feeling self-conscious at the gym.
- Carly Rowena – My PT, and fitness vlogger. She’s got some great high intensity workouts, various how-tos and lots of other tips.
- Bodybuilding.com – Benefits, guides and tips
- Jason Ferruggia – Various articles on lifting heavy as well as a great piece on more extreme body weight exercises you can do.
- This post on The Huffington Post
- This post on Athletic Build all about the bodies of Crossfit. Crossfit is a sport that’s all about weight lifting and the men and women who do it look amazing. Just a bit of fitspo for you.
Ladies, do you lift heavy?