A beginners guide to weight training
Updated: Mar 22
When you first think of weight training, I'm sure you imagine huge bodybuilders with massive arms, a chiselled chest and rock-hard abs.
It's the stereotypical image of someone who says they lift weights and a commonly held fear by females who are looking to get started with weight lifting.
I'm often told, "If we are doing weights I don't want to end up getting big and bulky muscles.".
Just to clear that up straight away ... you've got nothing to worry about.
Ladies, you will NOT get big and bulky lifting weights.
Men have more testosterone than females, which promotes more muscle growth.
So whilst there are huge advantages for both sexes in weight training, naturally getting big and bulky for women is not one of them.
Scientists say that resistance training offers incredible benefits for everyday people hoping for better health.
The benefits of building strength and 'some' muscle include improved posture, gaining bone density, maintaining weight loss and a healthy body fat level, boosts your metabolism, lowers inflammation and can help stave off chronic disease.
And let's not forget, it helps you to look good in and out of your clothes.
What is weight training?
Weight training is a form of physical exercise that uses weighted objects to build muscle and improve strength.
It can also help to boost your power, your muscular endurance and as we've already mentioned, improve your overall health.
By creating stress and overload to muscles, weight training causes tiny microscopic tears in your muscles, which are repaired through rest and recovery to build stronger, lean muscle.
Weight training usually involves exercises performed with free weights (e.g. barbells and dumbbells) or by using weight machines.
When you are just getting started, any form of resistance will do.
Especially if you are training at home. Things like resistance bands, food tins, water bottles and even bags of shopping can provide enough stimulus to get you going.
Over time, the use of this equipment will enable the muscles to be activated and get stronger.
What are the benefits of weight training?
There's a huge number of benefits to weight training and each individual will find their reasons for lifting weights. These are some of our favourite reasons;
Build muscle: I'm yet to find a single person who hasn't liked what they saw in the mirror after consistently following a weight training programme. We understand that not everyone gets started exercising to change their appearance but the majority of people want to feel more confident naked. Weight training will build lean muscle that creates that toned look you see in fitness models.
Improved strength: Over time and with consistent training you should see improvements in how much weight you can lift, push or raise. Hitting personal bests can serve as a great motivator even for those not competitive, there's something very satisfying about seeing and feeling improvements in the gym. And, I guarantee that the more physically stronger you feel, the more mentally confident you become.
Support everyday tasks: Getting stronger will also benefit you when it comes to your daily tasks and support your daily activities. Things like carrying shopping, walking up the stairs, moving furniture and other general household activities will feel easier as you get stronger.
Weight training for weight loss: When dieting some of the weight you lose can be made up of muscle mass. As muscle is vital in supporting and strengthening our body, you want to retain as much of it as possible when you are losing weight. Lifting weights when dieting will help preserve muscle mass and will also influence your basal metabolic rate, increasing how many calories you naturally burn throughout the day.
Improve balance: Maintaining and improving muscle mass, particularly in our leg and core muscles can keep us sturdier on our feet for long and less likely to experience falls as we get older. Weight training can be the difference between you walking up the stairs or taking the stairlift as you age. It also helps with muscular imbalances, injury prevention and injury rehabilitation.
Improve mental health: Studies have shown that regular physical training such as weight training can reduce the severity of various mental disorders such as depression and anxiety. The release of mood-enhancing endorphins can help to improve your mental wellbeing, and the confidence-boosting effects of seeing and feeling changes to your body can help to improve self-esteem.