Lifting weights is more commonly associated with muscly, brawny men who have their own section of the weights area in the gym, but a new surge of female gym goers are making fitness fashionable. Female Lifting fever is spreading fast across Northern Ireland and the world, no doubt thanks to celebrities such as Chloe Madeley, Cameron Diaz and Millie Mackintosh who all preach the benefits of lifting weights.
Indeed, according to a new survey, men find women who lift weights more attractive. The research revealed that 63 percent of men said they would rather date a girl that weight lifts than one who spends her time on the treadmill.
The largest amount of enquires I get are from women who are looking to incorporate lifting weights into their training programs. Lifting weights is my exercise of choice for both my clients and myself. Why, because it is by far the best way to improve body composition and burn fat. Weightlifting is for everybody not just the celebrities and its fantastic to see at last our social media celebrities are setting a trend on a lifestyle of good health and well being. The questions i get asked the most are, will my abs be visible after training a few weeks? Will my bingo wings get toned into sculpted muscle in time for my holiday in 10 weeks? Will by butt be shaped in time for? Its goes on and on…..
So lets cut to the chase here……as a personal trainer and nutritionist I sometimes get frustrated because I feel that there is a common misconception amongst many out there that a 12 week transformation program, 2 month insanity program or a 30 days abs challenge will take you from the average body to bikini body ready or “shredded”. I can say for sure and from experience that this is not true. A normal size 12/14 that holds 25-35% body fat range will NOT achieve that look in this short period of time, trust me. My job is based on people who want to shed fat or get fit in order to assist in a feeling of confidence and feeling good about themselves. They are aware that having a healthy body weight and being fit correlates to good health and a longer life. However, we are now exposed to millions of images on social media promoting female physiques displaying ripped abs, defined quads and big shapely booties. Let men give you an insight into the reality of owning a body like this and what it takes to achieve it.
Its extremely important to differentiate between the mindset of a professional fitness athlete, a model or actress over the average female. These social media darlings earn a living from their appearance and thus are continually motivated never mind paid to eat, sleep and train all year round. Every calorie is counted, every macro-nutrient (protein, carbs and fats) are measured in grams for every meal every day, week and month of the year. You can be damn sure they don’t rip it up every weekend boozing and certainly don’t binge drink or eat junk food on a consistent basis. On the occasion they do, its calculated precisely to fit into their macro-nutrient and calorie goals. Every vitamin supplement is timed around their training and they meals, sleep is usually 7-9 hours every night. On the other hand someone managing a typical 9-5 job and a few kids is faced with a number of physical and mental barriers before they even set foot in a gym. Achieving an ultra low body fat level takes time, planning, and good advice from a qualified coach.
Here are my top lifting tips for women.
Lifting weights will NOT make you bulky!
Eating too many calories and having excess body fat is what makes women appear “bulky”, not having lean muscle. Unless women are using anabolic steroids.
When you lift weights correctly and intelligently, you will more burn fat from the areas you want and keep toned muscle in the areas you want. The more lean muscle a woman has means she will become more metabolically active, resulting in more effective fast loss. Always remember that females do not have the testosterone capacity to support a bulky physique, males find it incredibly hard to build muscle as it is!
Learn Correct Technique
Get yourself a good coach and invest money into it. Make sure when you are learning that your movement patterns, from and technique are correct before loading weight onto to your body.
Master the Big Lifts
Plan your workouts fundamental, compound human movements. Deadlifts, squats, pull ups, lunges, push up, overhead presses. With big lifts you train multiple muscles at one time and burn more calories. Secondly, these movements translate into your everyday life, for example carrying heavy grocery bags, picking up young kids, moving furniture etc.These lifts also increase our bone building abilities leaving us less vulnerable to osteoporosis, back problems and joint problems. Thirdly, if done correctly our body shape can change dramatically.
Follow a program
If you have never lifted weights before don’t make the mistake of following a program designed for more advanced lifters. With this in mind, I have designed an online program fat loss program for beginner lifters. Its a six week program that starts off with the fundamentals and the correct progression. Good form and technique is demonstrated on all the videos. It also provides a full nutrition program for optimal results.
Train with free weights
Using Dumbbells and barbells allow a full range of motion, increases grip strength and trains muscle more optimally. When squatting with a barbell if you move below the level of your knees you are increasing glutes (bum) and Hamstring (muscle back of thigh) activation by 150 percent.
Count the timing of exercises
The timing or Tempo of a lift is a commonly underused element in workouts. I see people randomly lifting and lowering weights at mind boggling speeds. To get bang for your buck in terms of fat loss, better body shape and increased metabolism pay attention to tempo.
A general rule when squatting is to squat down for 4 seconds in a controlled fashion, with no pause at the bottom, come back up in 1 second. You would pause at the top again in your original starting position for 1 second and repeat.
Lifting heavy wont make you big and bulky ladies, so leave down the light weights. Research shows that even women with training experience naturally pick weights 30 percent lower then needed to provide any changes in their body. I find that clients who come to me are shocked at what they can achieve and lift with a little encouragement and motivation, compared to when they train on their own, resulting in their body shape changing much more rapidly.
A general rule is to use weights that are between 65-85% of the heaviest weight you can lift once. For instance if you can squat 55 KGs once then you need to be doing at least 35KGs when squatting for reps.