A Beginner’s Guide to Weightlifting for Women
A Beginner’s Guide to Weightlifting Women: Despite the myths and misconceptions surrounding women and weightlifting, strength training is an activity that is empowered and of great benefit, with a trifect of physical, mental, and cognitively proven benefits.
Weightlifting isn’t just about heavy exercises. It’s versatile and will help you achieve any fitness goal you want to achieve.
Whether your goal is weight loss, muscle building, strengthening, or just plain fitness, strength training’s focus on cardiovascular fitness, muscle endurance, and muscle growth can help you meet and exceed your goals.
However, knowing where to start weight training can often be overwhelming for beginners.
To help you get started, here is a quick guide to the most important things beginners need to know, as well as some frequently asked questions and answers.
Don’t Just Pick Up Heavy!
Weightlifting is often accompanied by the sensation of lifting heavy dumbbells above your head.
But beginners – that won’t happen in your first session!
As with any new exercise, weight lifting and strength training have learning curves.
Beginners in weightlifting need to start with exercises and routines that are easy to understand from the very first workout, but still offer great benefits. That way you can build momentum, gain confidence, and practice your technique that will eventually lead to these weights increasing and getting stronger.
For example, a bicep curl done with a dumbbell has a tiny learning curve, but it doesn’t offer much of a benefit. An alternative option that would be of greater benefit could be a cable pulldown that uses a palm grip.
The exercise works your back as well as your biceps, which means it works a lot of muscle mass. Since it has greater stress potential, it means you can get stronger and move on with your workout much faster.
Don’t try to get sore
You will be in pain at any point in your gym, but a common misconception among women is that unless you are sore, you didn’t get it right.
This couldn’t be further from the truth and is a dangerous myth that has a huge impact on healthy muscles, as well as repair and muscle growth.
Beginners who get painfully sore early in their workout can also often be deterred from continuing.
Fortunately, the simple solution is to ignore any “no pain, no gain” certainties and start training with about two sets for each exercise.
Sets are simply repetitions – also called repetitions – of certain exercises that are performed one after the other. For example, a weight lifting exercise program might include instructions to do 4 sets of 6 reps with a break of 20 to 30 seconds in between.
The goal is to get strong
As a beginner in weightlifting, your only first priority is to increase your physical strength.
This means that for the first few months of your workout your program should ideally follow a plan where you first do increased repetitions with the same weights, then either increase the weight or increase the number of sets in each exercise.
This builds resistance and endurance, and eventually allows you to transition to heavier weights with much more ease and much less risk of injury.
Don’t compare – be proud of yourself
When you’re first starting out with weight training, it can be demoralizing to see other people further down their path than you make it seem. You can often feel stuck or inadequate, and that’s before you hit a plateau!
Hard as it is, you have to ignore these people. Following influencers on Instagram is fine, but obsessing over them and pushing yourself too hard to try to assert yourself isn’t.
You will get there and meet your fitness goals, but ultimately weightlifting rewards patience and perseverance.
All weightlifters start at the lowest level of weights and do the simplest of moves before sticking to the awesome social media snaps.
While getting tips and advice is great, it will ultimately keep you motivated to focus on your journey and your achievement. The results will show, and you can be the inspiration someone else looks up to.
Don’t burn out
If you are a beginner who is used to the moves, exercises, and routines of a weight lifting exercise program, you might be tempted to believe that you have to go to the gym every day or you will lose progress and be back where you are have started.
This is another dangerous and false myth.
Weight training involves building endurance, muscle, and strength, but actually a lot happens outside of the gym when you are resting. Strength and strength training destroy your body tissue and rest days allow you to rebuild your muscles, connective tissue, bones and nerves – only stronger!
Instead of walking every day and risking exhaustion and muscle fatigue, diversify your workouts. Do something different every time you repeat a sequence. Either do more reps, use more weights, or do an extra set.
This also helps in measuring the value of your workout alongside your progress. Knowing your limits and strengths is the first step in building a strong, healthy body in the safest way.
Weight training is a marathon, not a sprint. Move at a constant but challenging pace that suits your body and lifestyle.
Don’t be intimidated.
Everyone was a beginner once, even the folks you see make it look effortless in the free weight range of your gym.
While it can be easy to be intimidated at first, don’t be afraid to own your workout! Bring a friend to help or take your music with you so you can plug in your headphones and surround yourself.
Also, don’t be afraid to ask for help. In most cases, other athletes and athletes are just happy to help figure out your form or give you advice.
Frequently asked questions and answers:
How Much Weight Should I Use?
Nobody will be able to tell you right away. Everyone is different, so every body is different! Therefore, lifters start with different weights than their colleagues.
The most important thing to do before worrying about weights is to learn how to properly do each exercise. Only when you are happy and confident in your shape and movement can you start challenging yourself by adding challenging weights.
What does a “challenging weight” mean?
A challenging weight is just a weight that drives you. If you can do 10 reps with one weight and you don’t feel challenged, it’s time to increase the weight size and do 5. This gives you a boost of strength without speeding up anything.
How should I warm up for each exercise?
Warm-up exercises should start with weights or bodyweight exercises that are safe to do 10 simple repetitions.
Once these 10 are complete, add some weight and do 5-8 reps.
On the third set of repetitions, do 3-5 reps, using a heavier weight.
The great thing about warm up exercises is that you can use them to find the right weight variation that is right for you. The main goal of warm-up sets is to enable you to use the correct technique and most importantly, to prepare you for your main workout.
What should you do next?
Have fun! Experiment and safely challenge yourself. Work with professional trainers or other lifters to improve your form, positioning and training. Add some variety to your workout and use a combination of exercises, including barbell squats, deadlifts, standing presses, bench presses, and barbell rows. They may sound like a new level at first, but you will be relying on them to get stronger!
Sally Moss was voted one of the 10 Most Influential Women in the World of Strength and Conditioning and appears in the list of the 100 Most Influential Personal Trainers. She is a regular contributor to the UK’s Men’s Fitness and Women’s Fitness magazines and was the personal trainer on the cover of Lift The Bar magazine in 2018.
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