Fitness

Weight Training

Weight training is a type of strength training that uses weights for resistance. Your body is very clever. If you always keep doing the things you always do, your body will stay the same as it is. If you apply some type of stimulus over and above what your body can normally handle it will attempt to adapt by improving its capabilities like strength and endurance. Weight training provides a stress to the muscles that causes them to adapt and get stronger, similar to the way aerobic conditioning strengthens your heart. Weight training can be performed with free weights, such as barbells and dumbbells, or by using weight machines. You can also increase your strength through other types of resistance exercises, such as by using your body weight or resistance bands.

Benefits of Weight Training

Many women worry that weight training will cause them to get bigger or look bulky, but nothing could be further from the truth! Women simply do not have the necessary levels of testosterone in their body to gain muscle the same way as men. Instead, along with toning and shaping your body, the benefits of weight training include:

  • Improves your metabolism – muscle actually burns kilojoules/calories even when at rest. So the more muscle you have, the more kilojoules your body burns even when you are just sitting around and as you sleep, and therefore the more body fat you will lose.
  • Prevent Osteoporosis- it helps maintain bone density and protect women against conditions such as Osteoporisis which is common in women later in life.
  • Improves co-ordination and balance – which also helps prevent injuries.
  • Improves circulation – keeps your muscles and joints strong and supple, which keeps you looks and feeling young.
  • Makes you stronger – increases muscular endurance and makes it easier to do everyday tasks.
  • Shapes your body – you can change and build nice shape to your body, targeting areas of concern or preference.
  • Improves confidence and self-esteem – both in how your body looks and how strong you feel.

Stripping Body Fat

Women used to think cardio was the quickest and most efficient way to burn fat, but these days gyms have just as many women training as men. That is because sports science shows that a combination of hard weight training and regular cardio is the best way to stimulate your metabolism and burn maximum fat. You can lose weight by simply going on a diet, or doing excessive and exclusive amounts of cardio. In fact, many women who start out on an exercise program often stick to cardio exercise because they believe it is the best way to condition their body. If you do this long enough you can get pretty skinny, but this will cause a loss of muscle in addition to body fat, and will result in a weak shapeless body.

The better approach is to lose fat while maintaining and even building on the muscle you do have, via weight training. You will look better, feel fitter and stronger, and have more energy for training, sport and everyday life in general. As mentioned previously, the more lean muscle you have, the better your metabolism and the more calories your body will burn. It also means you will be able to consume more calories because your body is burning them off at a greater rate. Which is a much better result than simply dieting and calorie restriction. Weight training and cardio, combined with a nutritious high protein diet, can dramatically transform how you look and feel, and build a nice lean physique.

Weight Training Principles

As mentioned, your body will stop changing if you don’t change or progress your workouts. The below are some basic strength training principles that will help you both set up your training program and ensure you are progressing in your workouts correctly.

Training frequency and duration

  • Beginners should aim for 3 weight training sessions of around 45-60 minutes, and 1-2 cardio sessions per week.
  • Intermediate trainers should aim for 4 weight training sessions of around 1 hour each, and 3-4 cardio sessions per week.

Sets and Repetitions

  • We recommend using around 10-12 repetitions in each exercise set.
  • Beginners should start with 1 exercise for each body part and perform 3-4 sets each.
  • As you progress and gain experience, and for intermediate trainers, you can progress to 3-4 exercises per body part and perform 3-4 sets each.

Rest

  • When starting out you should aim to have 1-2 minutes rest between sets.
  • As you progress and for those who are more experienced, keep a shorter rest time to keep your heart rate up and burning fat.
  • When training legs always rest slightly longer to ensure you are able to perform each set with maximum intensity.

Recovery

  • You must train hard to stimulate change but you must give your body enough time between workouts to recover. This is usually between 48 – 72 hours but can take longer for beginner trainers.
  • You should always have a protein shake straight after your workout; stretching and light cardio is a great method to relax stiff muscles and speed up recovery; and ensure you get plenty of sleep at night.

Overload and Progression

  • In order to avoid plateaus and keep your body benefiting from the training, you need to always strive to increase your intensity. This can be done by:
    • Increasing the amount of weight lifted – even if you can’t do all 10 reps on a heavier weight do as many as you can then drop back down to the previous weight and finish the set.
    • Increasing the sets and/or reps.
    • Changing the exercises you are doing – swap a DB chest press for a BB bench press, or cable flyes for DB flyes etc.
    • Changing the rest intervals between sets –try super-setting 2 exercises (do them back to back) or shorten the rest time between sets then have a bigger rest before the next exercise.
    • Changing the order of your exercises – if you always start with chin ups try putting them in the middle or at the end, or do you normal routine backwards.

Positive failure

  • Your body will only change when you push it beyond its normal limits. Your last few repetitions of the last 1 – 2 sets should be to failure.
  • Don’t push too hard straight away. Build up slowly so you don’t burn out or risk hurting yourself.

Training Priorities

  • If you have a weaker body part start off your workout with that body part to ensure you attack it while you are freshest.

Negative Failure

  • Intermediate level trainers can start introducing negative failure into their training.
  • This is done by having a training partner help you push out a few more reps after you cannot do any more on your own, by gently helping to lift the bar, with just enough pressure that you are doing 95% or the work.
  • Two sets of forced reps like this can really push your muscle beyond their normal capabilities and stimulate good gains.
  • Don’t do this in every workout though as it can quickly lead to overtraining. Once per week or so is plenty.

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