05 Mar Why Women Should Do Strength Training
Strength training, Surrey
You may have heard personal trainers and fitness experts throwing the expression “strength training” around. Perhaps you nodded along whilst wondering what the heck all the fuss is about? If you’re new to strength training then read on, as I answer the questions which I get asked the most as a personal trainer about strength training (and why I encourage all my personal training clients to do it!).
What is strength training?
Strength training (sometimes also called resistance training or weight training) is any type of exercise which uses resistance in order to work your body. When we talk about resistance, this can be your own bodyweight, or you can add resistance through resistance bands or weights. One of the best things about strength training is that you don’t need to go to a gym to do it, or invest in any specialist equipment.
Squats, lunges, press ups, tricep dips and abdominal exercises such as planks are great for building strength. You need no equipment at all and can do them in your living room if you like!
Will it make me bulky?
Lots of women are worried that if they do strength training, they’ll look like a body builder. Trust me, it takes a LOT of work (and a very specific nutritional programme) to build those muscles! Those individuals spend an enormous amount of time and effort to condition their bodies to look that way.
You train for the results you want, and if you want to build visible muscle, that is of course an option. However, most of my clients want to “tone up” and become more functionally fit and this is where strength training really can yield benefits.
Why do I need to be strong?
Let’s face it, life is so much easier when you’re strong. When I talk about being “functionally fit”, I mean being fit for life. If you need to lift something heavy, you want to be able to do this yourself. It is important to have a strong back and core so to guard against pain and injury. Anyone who has ever had to carry a tired 3 year old home from the park will know how sometimes you feel you need the strength of a superhero to be a parent!
As we age, our muscle mass naturally declines and our body fat levels increase. In fact, this process starts in our 30s and is accelerated as we enter the menopause, because of the hormonal changes that take place.
This means that whilst your weight may stay the same, you could have a very different body composition in your 20s versus your 50s. Studies have shown that strength training can help reduce and even prevent this process of muscle loss, which is amazing.
Where do I start?
If you’re just getting started with strength training, you may benefit from a session with a personal trainer to show you good technique and to design a programme for you to follow.
Strength training 2 or 3 times per week is ideal, which may sound like a lot, but you can get a really good workout into a 30 or even a 15-20 minute session. Or, if you’re really time pressed, you can fit little exercise “snacks” into your day. For example, doing squats for a minute every time you boil the kettle. You’ll be surprised how it mounts up!
Is it safe?
Pretty much anyone can strength train. If you’re currently pregnant or have recently had your baby then please seek advice from an expert (such as a personal trainer with a qualification in pre and postnatal exercise) before you get started. The same goes for starting strength training later in life.
If you’re in any doubt at all or have concerns about pre-existing medical conditions or injuries, then make an appointment with your GP before you jump in. Strength training can reap enormous benefits, but only if done correctly and safely.
Carly is an expert personal trainer offering strength training. To book a session with her, visit her directory page below.