1. Expert Advice
17th of May, 2024

Heavy Weight Training for Women

Heavy Weight Training for Women - Athena Nutrition

The thought of integrating heavy weights into your training can seem quite daunting, especially if you're unsure where to begin. When I was a personal trainer, my favourite thing was to help women start lifting heavy weights. Witnessing the enjoyment and satisfaction from realising the capability of your body is so exciting and inspiring. Not only does heavy lifting offer a sense of empowerment, but it also brings numerous benefits. Let's explore these benefits together and I'll share some tips to help you get started on your own journey.

The Benefits:

Builds Bone Density: Did you know that the force generated during strength training stimulates bone building? This is crucial because by the age of 20, most individuals have acquired about 90% of their peak bone mass. After this age, gaining more bone mass becomes challenging, which highlights the importance of maximising bone density early on. Even beyond this milestone, it's essential to maintain the bone mass we have.

Reduces Risk of Injury and Pain: Strengthening your muscles through heavy lifting not only builds strength but helps to improve stability and support around your joints, reducing your risk of injury. Additionally, developing a strong foundation can contribute towards alleviating chronic pain and discomfort, enhancing your overall quality of life. Whether you're in the gym or going for a run, the benefits of heavy lifting extend beyond the weight room, supporting your ability to perform and enjoy a wide range of physical activities.

Improves Glucose Utilisation: Weight training enhances the body's ability to use glucose, benefiting overall metabolic health and possibly aiding in conditions like diabetes. By challenging muscles with heavy loads, it increases glucose uptake and improves insulin sensitivity, potentially leading to better blood sugar control.

Enhance Mental Wellbeing: Beyond the physical benefits, heavy weight training can have positive effects on mental health and wellbeing. Engaging in regular strength training releases endorphins, which can help alleviate stress. The sense of accomplishment and empowerment you gain from achieving certain lifts can boost self-confidence and self-esteem, which contributes hugely to a positive mindset.

Heavy lifting is subjective, and what feels heavy will vary depending on your fitness level. Remember, the journey is yours alone, and comparing yourself to others serves no purpose. As you progress, what you consider heavy will evolve, allowing you to continuously challenge and strengthen your body.

Getting Started:

Consider Getting Help: Investing in a personal trainer or a structured program can provide invaluable guidance tailored to your specific needs and goals. A knowledgeable trainer can assess your current fitness level, design a personalised workout plan, and teach you proper form and technique. Working with a professional not only boosts your confidence but also ensures you're on the right path to achieving your desired results.

Start Slow and Stick to the Basics: It's tempting to dive headfirst into exciting and complex exercises, but mastering the basics is key to long-term success. Begin with key movements such as squats, deadlifts, and bench press using light weights or just your body weight. Focus on perfecting your form and technique before gradually increasing the load. Starting light allows your muscles and joints to adapt while minimising the risk of injury. As you become more comfortable and confident in your abilities, you can progressively add weight and complexity to your workouts.

Embrace Progressive Overload: One of the key principles of strength training is progressive overload, which involves gradually increasing the demands placed on your muscles over time. To make sure you continue to progress, aim to gradually increase the weight lifted or the number of repetitions performed during each workout on about a weekly basis. A good rule of thumb is to choose a weight that enables you to complete a set with proper form while still feeling challenged by the final repetitions. Ideally, when you finish a set, you should feel as though you could only manage a couple more reps. As you become stronger, regularly reassess and adjust your training intensity to keep pushing your limits. Tracking what weights you are using means you can do this efficiently.

Listen to Your Body & Remember Rest: While pushing your limits is essential for progress, it's equally important to listen to your body and prioritise rest and recovery. Pay close attention to how your body responds to heavy lifting, and be mindful of any signs of fatigue, discomfort, or pain. Soreness is normal, especially when starting a new training program, but sharp or persistent pain may indicate overexertion or improper form. If you experience any discomfort, scale back the intensity. This is where you could consider getting advice from a trainer. It's important to focus on proper recovery strategies such as adequate sleep, hydration, nutrition and incorporating rest days so that your muscles can repair and grow stronger.

Join the Movement:

Through my time as a personal trainer, I have seen firsthand that heavy lifting doesn't just build strength, but also resilience and confidence in your abilities. It's clear that the rewards of strength training are significant, so every bit of progress no matter how small is important. With consistency, you'll not only strengthen your body but also enhance your overall wellbeing. So, give it a go and see the difference it will make.