When it comes to the gym, us ladies are notoriously known for being ‘cardio queens’ – walking or running on the treadmill, sweating on the elliptical and riding the stationary bike for hours on end. While cardio is great for the heart and for giving you an amazing rush of endorphins, it is definitely not the be-all-and-end-all of exercise. For optimal results and wellbeing, it’s important to have a balanced workout routine that involves strength training, flexibility, and cardio.
However, many of us seem to neglect the importance of strength training, opting only for one session a week or leaving it out altogether – even though strength training is so beneficial! If you’re wondering whether or not to hit the weights, here are a few reasons why you might want to incorporate more strength training into your weekly routine.
Health benefits galore
One of the wonderful benefits of strength training is an increase in muscle and an eventual decrease in body fat, leading to a toned, lean body. However, increasing your strength has a surprising number of other benefits as well. For one, you will decrease your risk of osteoporosis and arthritis. Researchers discovered that training with weights can increase your bone density, and also helps build stronger connective tissues and joints.
You can also decrease your risk of heart disease and diabetes: strength training is also a cardiovascular activity and helps lower bad cholesterol and increase good cholesterol, as well as potentially improving the way that the body processes sugar. And of course, as with all exercise, you’ll feel the psychological effects: a sense of confidence and achievement, and an overall feeling of happiness. Who can say no to any of this?
But won’t I get big and bulky?
One of the main reasons women don’t partake in strength training is actually based on a misconception: that lifting weights makes you bulky. The roots of this myth make sense – after all, men lift weights to gain bulk. However, men have much more testosterone than women, which allows them to gain muscle mass quickly. In other words, no matter how much you lift and lift and lift, you won’t get bulky – you’ll just look fit, healthy and strong!
Can you recommend me some strength training exercises to start off with?
If you’re just beginning, the idea of strength training can be daunting. Start off slow and incorporate one day of weights into your routine, and then gradually increase this to two, and then to three. Remember that form is important, so it’s best to book in a time for a trainer teach you how to do them correctly.
Start off with this sequence of exercises, and do three sets of 8-12 reps:
Push up (can be on your knees)
Body weight squats
Body weight lunges
Medicine ball twists
If these get too easy, start adding weight to the exercises by using dumbbells, kettlebells, or plates. You’ll be super strong before you know it.
But I just don’t want to do weights!
That’s fine too – after all, exercise should be enjoyable! Find a workout routine you enjoy and can do often. From playing tennis to taking yoga or pilates at Fitness First, there are endless ways to move your body. It’s all about experimenting until you find something that’s right for you.
Kelly is a fitness enthusiast and gym junkie who loves weights – in fact, she struggles to do cardio more than once per week. The above article provides general advice so please speak to your doctor before attempting any of the above exercises.