A new year is upon us, and we’ve vowed that *this* will be the year we lose those last five pounds and get that killer body we’ve always wanted.
When our alarm goes off in the morning, though, we want those five extra minutes instead. And when it’s finally time to go home after work, we’d much rather catch up on what’s recorded on the TV and down a glass of wine (or three) than hit the gym.
Those of us who do make it to the gym seem to be glued to the elliptical (at least we can watch TV!) or in it for the social aspects (I can sit through a spin class if I’m sitting in between my besties).
What many don’t realize is that – Brace yourselves! – women need to lift weights. Sure, cardio is great for your heart and your health, and we applaud you for even making it to those machines, but haven’t you heard? Strong is the new sexy.
Why we’re scared to
“I played sports in high school, but I’m too old to run up and down a court now…I’ll just run on the treadmill.”
“Free weights seem kind of cool, but I never see any other girls in that area, so I just try out new group classes each week.”
“Some of those weight things look like torture devices; I am NOT risking breaking a nail.”
“I know I’m weak and would love to be toned – but I don’t even know where to begin!”
There are numerous reasons that we don’t see more females benching, squatting and rowing. It’s easier, safer and more comfortable to go in, find what you know, and be done with it all.
Walking to “that” side of the gym
Did you know that resistance training not only builds muscle, but it can also improve joint stability, coordination and memory and lower the risk of dementia and depression..? Depending on the number of reps and sets, you could easily burn more calories lifting than by being on a cardio machine (See this chart for more info)!
More and more girls are showing that it’s okay to lift weights and be strong…and you won’t suddenly have shoulders like Arnold just because you pick up one dumbbell (Trust us – Even the people who lift every day are still dreaming for a body like that!).
You just have to put on your big girl pants, turn on your favorite tune, walk over there, and start working out. You also have to know that there are no dumb questions; trainers work at gyms for this purpose, so ask a friendly face for advice or suggestions. If you don’t see gym personnel around, this is a great way to mingle with other females in the area or talk to a cute guy.
We need strength
Physically, mentally and emotionally, women need to be strong – and it all starts within. Lifting weights may be totally new to you, but there are so many options to try and so many reasons to do it, so tell yourself you can, then do it!
Women generally have less muscle than men to begin with, making them more prone to bone and joint issues. By regularly moving – and pulling, bending and pushing – women will quickly see a difference after lifting. Everyday motions, like sitting and picking up groceries, will feel improved, with more balance, posture and strength involved. Your clothes will start to fit in new ways, as you see leanness in unexpected areas (Yay to shopping for new clothes!).
Where to start
Here is a list of lifts that can be done with dumbbells, machines, barbells and/or suspension straps (those weird handles you may have seen hanging from poles at your gym). They all focus on major muscle groups and are meant to be done multiple times a week (rep and set suggestions can be found within many of the links), giving you a bang for the buck you’re putting into your gym membership AND giving you practice on movements that can literally change your life.
- Rows: Working your back is super important, especially for women, and there are several machines/movements (like a bent-over row, which can be done with dumbbells or a barbell) that allow you to pull your shoulder blades together and form a strong and sexy back.
- Bench press: There are common myths surrounding women doing bench press, but we highly suggest it.
- Pullups: Due to that whole less muscle thing, many women find it difficult to pull their entire bodies up. There are assisted pull-up machines, though, and tips to help you get there!
- Overhead press: Target your shoulders using this detailed guide.
- Romanian deadlift: Similar to a normal deadlift, this movement hits your hamstrings and booty hard. Remember to keep your back straight!
- Goblet squat: If you’re worried about getting smashed under a barbell, use a dumbbell or kettlebell to squat (see details here).
- Lunges: These can be done anytime, anywhere, and are great for when you get too tired of or too sore from squats; plus, there are several variations to try out.
- Suspension Training: Mix it up with TRX straps, where you can get in work on your arms, legs and abs – without ever having to pick up a weight!
There are also bodypump classes that focus on resistance training and one-on-one training sessions that can help you target your trouble areas. Just start somewhere. It may feel weird at first (Take care and caution!), and you’ll probably be sore, but think of all the good you’re doing for your body – your stronger, sexier body!