Do you avoid using weights in your training because you think it will make you "bulky" or too muscly? You wouldn't be alone, It's a common misconception amongst women that this is the case.
However, I'm here to assure you, lifting weights will not make you bulky, and incorporated into your routine, you actually will see lots of benefits! I personally include two weight sessions into my week, every week.
Some of the health benefits for women lifting weights include:
Decrease in body fat
Training with weights will replace fat with muscle. You will be burning fat not only whilst you train but you will also help increase your resting metabolic rate. This rate determines how much fat we burn when we are sleeping, sitting or even eating. Even well after your workout, lifting weights promotes fat burn and in conjunction with eating a healthy diet can help burn more of the fuel you consume from food every day rather than store it as excess energy in the form of fat cells. This leads to...
Increase in muscle, helping create tone and definition
Due to a loss of fat, your muscles will be more defined and appear toned. Replacing muscle with fat will actually make you smaller, not bigger. Muscle weights more than fat so don't rely on the scales to do the talking. If you are keen to measure the effects, use a measuring tape as this will be a more accurate way than jumping on the scales.
Helps increase bone density
This is particularly important for older women who will be more prone to osteoporosis which is when bones are weakened and can break easily. Even for younger women, you can get into the routine of including weight training to help prevent this condition in your older age.
Improved joint heath
As weight training is generally low impact, this actually helps promote healthy joints and allows us to recover in between higher impact or cardio exercise. It also makes our joints stronger which reduces risk of injury due to high-impact exercise.
How often should I be training with weights?
I love using weights to train. Those who are in my Train with Rach program or my group fitness classes will know this. We need variety in our exercise routine, engaging different muscle groups and fitness capacities. Done in combination with other training styles including cardio, high intensity interval training and low impact movement such as walking, I would suggest doing two sessions a week that incorporate lifting weights.
You don't have to dedicate an entire session to include them but even a portion of your training session can incorporate weights. You can also use weights to make certain exercises more challenging such as lunges with a weight in each hand or a hip raise with one dumbbell resting just above your hips.
How to choose the right weights
It is good to actually have at least two sets of weights. Reason being you will be able to use much heavier weights doing full body movements such as squats compared to bent over rows or any movement that isolates a small muscle group.
If you are really unsure, I suggest heading into a store to test some out (it may look silly but it saves you having to return your weights purchased online). It might not suit your personal circumstance but common weights would be a lighter set 4-6kg and a heavier set 7-10kg depending on strength level.
Simple weight exercises you can do at home
So, don't be afraid of "bulking", trust me, with consistent training, you will see the amazing physical benefits that weight training has.