Lift like a Girl

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Pilates will always have my heart and it still my ‘go to’ workout but 2016 saw me branching out into new things and after stumbling upon weightlifting I’m hooked.

At the start of last year you wouldn’t have caught me dead with a dumbbell in my hand. I didn’t see the need to lift and I didn’t really want to. I’d pretty much plateaued with my workouts and was upping my cardio as a way to combat this. My Pilates workouts weren’t effective because I’d begun repeating the same thing every day and I’d definitely gotten myself in a rut. Working out became something I just sort of did because it was part of my routine and in the end it all got a bit boring ,repetitive and honestly I’d lost the spark of why I‘d started in the first place.

That’s when I decided something had to change. I remembered that the Christmas before my Mum had gotten me a set of wrist weights that I’d payed little mind to. In fact I think they’d been used the once and had quickly found a home at the back of my wardrobe. I dug them out, strapped them around my ankles and began doing criss-crosses. Now this is an exercise that the day before I had done with ease. Well not that day. My legs were shaking, my abs ached and by the end of the song (I love a good one song workout) it I felt like I’d truly worked out for the first time in months. It was amazing! I quickly invested in a set of adjustable dumbbells and do a proper weighted session at least twice a week.

Women in strength training is definitely on the rise and it’s great to see but there are so many still being put off by all the horror stories; lifting weights makes you bulky, muscle turns to fat if you miss a day in the gym or it’s bad for your joints. Ladies it’s all crap! If you’re picturing a super tanked woman with muscles bulging out of muscles then I can see why you’re put off. It’s not the look most of us are going for and trust me; it’s not the look you’re going to get. Nobody accidentally gets themselves into that kind of shape. So if bulking up is what’s putting you off its time to get over it!

There are so many amazing health benefits to strength training and you might be amazed to hear that it ticks a lot of the boxes when it comes to what we’re wanting out of our workouts.

You can’t tone muscle that isn’t there

Gone are the days of ‘thinner is better’…thank god! What a lot of women are looking for now is that beautiful, toned, athletic look and in order to achieve that you have to build muscle. By doing nothing but endurance cardio… think long session of the treadmill and a weekly step class… you’re actually burning both muscle and fat and this can cause you to lose the toned athletic look you’re going for.

Burn fat faster

The best thing about strength training is that it continues to burn fat even after you’ve finished working out. A particularly intense resistance session can continue to burn fat and use up calories for hours after the session is complete. This happens for two reasons. Firstly, the more muscle mass you have the more muscle you use when completing everyday tasks such as walking. By increasing the amount of muscle you increase the calorific demand of these everyday tasks allowing you to burn more calories throughout the day. The second factor is to do with something called the oxygen deficit. After a workout your muscles continue to use up oxygen and the more muscle you have the more oxygen needed. The more oxygen you use up the more calories needed to do so.

Build strong joints

Now I know this one sounds a bit crazy. Surely lifting heavy weights can only be bad for your joints, right? It’s one of those crap horror stories people have been telling to scare you away from the dumbbells. The truth is that building muscle actually helps your joints by supporting them better and holding them into position. So go ahead, grab a dumbbell and get squatting…your knees will thank you on your next run!

Love your heart

When it comes to looking after your ticker the traditional view is that aerobic exercises is really the only way to go but new research shows that strength training has some very big benefits to heart health. In fact, you can get a longer-lasting drop in blood pressure with a little as three days of 30 minute resistance training a week. So it would seem aerobic cardio isn’t the only cardiovascular exercise that works.

It feels badass

How your workouts make you feel is just as important as how they make you look. In fact I’d say it’s more important. Changes take time to occur and if you only goal is to lose weight or change how you look it can be hard to stay motivated. That’s why you need a workout that makes you feel great and strength training can be just that. There’s a huge sense of accomplishment that comes with watching yourself get stronger and stronger and nothing makes me feel better than pushing to get one more rep.

So come on ladies it’s time to get lifting!

If yoga and pilates are your thing and your loving your workouts and results then keep at it, I really think getting active is all about finding your style and going with it! But if you’ve plateaued or just haven’t found the exercise that makes you want to get active then pick up the dumbbells and get squatting, I promise you won’t regret it.

Thanks, Megan x

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