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Benefits of Women and Weight Training

Nearly every time I put up a transformation picture showing the dramatic changes in the shape of my body, I get asked “How much cardio do you do?”, “Did you lose weight with cardio and then lift weights?” or “I’m running 5k 3-4 times a week, should I start with weights?”

I see so many people, women especially, killing themselves on cardio machines, often in pursuit of a “toned” body. I think so many women that want to look “toned”  don’t realise that the easiest way to achieve this is to grow your muscles and reduce body fat.

For me, cardio is supplementary to my goals. I am not saying you shouldn’t do cardio, I just want to advise that it is not necessary if you have goals similar to mine. At the moment my goals are aesthetic (to look and feel good) and to be flexible, strong and mobile. If my clients want to improve their overall fitness levels or have a goal of running a marathon etc. then that is a different situation. Cardio has so may benefits, including a healthy heart, lungs and even a healthy mind but I want to explain the benefits of weight training and why I think ladies should lift.

Lifting weights with a proper exercise and nutrition program will result in strength, bigger muscles and increased metabolic rate. Therefore you will burn more calories day to day and reduce body fat so you can see these muscles. You won’t look bigger. I hope I am proof of that!

Weight training has completely changed my mindset on food/exercise. When I was younger, I used to run 10km to come home and eat the calories I had “earned”. Now I see food as fuel. The more I eat, the harder and heavier I can train, the better my body can recover and the better my results will be. You start seeing your body as a machine that you build up to be the best it can be, rather than starve and break it down.

It’s hard to explain in words the feeling of training with heavy weights; the feeling of pushing hard past the limits you thought you would never reach, giving it everything for that last rep… then resting and doing it all over again.

There are several health benefits for women too. Heavy compound movements like squats, bench press and deadlifts also help strengthen joints as well as preventing osteoporosis in the bones.

I think one major barrier to women with weight training is not knowing where to begin. I think it is very important to work with a coach in line with your goals. These may be to get stronger (a strength program), to look and feel better (a hypertrophy program) or endurance goals (for overall fitness levels) – or a combination of all three.

I would suggest to find a PT or coach who will look at your training and nutrition and find a way to incorporate a plan into your lifestyle. My online coaching plan is seeing some great results while educating women on nutrition and weight training and living a balanced life. Check out ohfitnessfurnace.com for more information.

Whatever path you choose, make sure you are enjoying the process. Building muscle takes time. Nutrition will play a huge part too and it is so important to be consistent.

Thanks for reading!

Siobhan O'Hagan

Personal Trainer and Online Coach who is motivated to help others to feel good about themselves, both physically and mentally through exercising and eating well. For more information, check out ohfitness.ie.