Although less than it used to be, it seems as if there is still a myth surrounding women lifting weights.
I personally started lifting weights aged 18 in preparation for the Miss England contest - coming from a family of runners and triathletes, the gym was new territory for us and it took quite some convincing for the parents to agree that my new 'pumping iron' fetish, wouldn't be turning me into a half man bodybuilder. I ran often in my local park to keep fit but found it didn't actually visually affect my body. But after only a few weeks of weights I was amazed at how rapidly my body was changing. Suddenly I was able to sculpt and design the body I wanted and specifically target the areas that bothered me.
Although the idea of strength training for women is not a new one (Marilyn Monroe famously used to weight train!) it appears with social media now finding itself with an abundance of female fitspos and many celebrities opting for the strong over skinny look, it's now difficult to avoid the phenomenon that is changing our approach to training our bodies.
This seems to be one of the main reasons why girls have started to explore so many different ways of getting active and exercising, and lifting weights has clearly become a popular choice (and for good reason). Building lean muscle and gaining strength is a much more realistic goal than drastic weight loss.
I am a huge advocate of weight training and what it can do; so I wanted to dedicate this week's post to the pump and put across 10 (girly) reasons why women should quit the fear and pick up the dumbells.
10 (girly) reasons to pump iron
1) You WILL NOT get bigger...To put it in as simple terms as possible, women have about 1/10th of the hormone testosterone compared to men, and this is the main hormone required to build muscle mass. So in reality there is NO risk of ending up looking 'manly' from simply incorporating resistance training.
2) For every pound of muscle you build in the body, it burns three times the amount of calories that each pound of fat burns.
3) SO you can eat more *wink wink* - The restrictive diets are no more when you NEED the calories because you are burning them.
4) Cardio only helps you to burn current calories, strength builds towards losing future calories and speeding up your metabolism.
5) Building muscle through lifting weights can help to improve posture - I love how straight I sit when I've built up a good core!
6) As you become more proficient and lift heavier weights you can burn calories for up to 48 hours after your workout as your body works to repair your muscles. This far exceeds the burn achieved through cardio alone.
7) As your fat levels go down and your muscle goes up - you might weigh more, but you will be MUCH smaller (don't trust the scales - who cares what you weigh if your going down in inches and fitting into THAT dress)
8) It's sexy! Guys love to see a girl who lift weights (wouldn't you love to see his face when you can do more push ups than him?)
9) Building strength will help you in all areas of your life - Everyday physical activities become so much easier E.g. carrying more shopping bags!
10) Weight training allows you to directly work out the parts of your body that bother you. (I for example target train more on my legs, as it's the area of my body that bothers me most)
As with everything in life - it's about balance. Weight training alongside cardio and the correct diet creates a 'toned', athletic, shapely physique, compared to the skinnier, less shapely physiques of women who only utilize the cardio machines and very restrictive diets. I have struggled to shake off taboos about weight training for girls however I truly believe the best way to find out what work's for you in life is to simply say 'Why not?' try it and you may be pleasantly surprised by the results.
I am writing this post from aboard a yacht in Spain so I have no access to the gym, but as I mentioned in my last blog I have adapted to taking my TRX with me on trips so I have no excuses! The pictures I have included are examples of me completing my strength training in the 'self made gym' on the top deck of the boat - Showing how easy it can be! I am purely concentrating on my strength training because it's easy to create cardio fun activities whilst your on holiday - Windsurfing, to jetskis to kayaking - All burns calories but doesn't feel like a workout.
My advice would be aim to do a strength session three times a week at minimum - as you can lose muscle as quickly as you can build it. AND of course your diet will ensure you achieve optimal results - So stick clean and natural!
A great guide to follow for a point of reference, if your new to strength training or struggling for ideas is the Bikini Guide from LDN Muscle, which covers everything you need to know from what to eat, when and how much, to how to lift, how many reps and how long to rest for.
Happy summer and let me know how you all get on with training! You can post pictures to me via my Instagram and Facebook pages!