Benefits of Strength Training by Anna Holmes

There are still many misconceptions for females to lifting heavy weights in the gym and many women believe that workouts with lots of cardio training is the best way to burn fat. I would like to tell you a little bit about the benefits of ‘weight training’ whilst also tackling misconceptions and help you to understand the true benefits that strength training will have on your overall health. 

For me, my journey has been vast! Never did I think I would be able to say I learnt the basics of a ‘Clean and Jerk’ technique by pressing a friend of mine over my head! As a member of the University Cheerleading squad I learnt the fundamental elements of lifting, throwing, catching and tumbling – but I am not talking about weights here I am talking about lifting, throwing and catching people! 

Pressing one of my friends overhead whilst they complete a ‘back tuck’ from a ‘basket toss’ is what I am talking about! Believe it or not this is most definitely where I built a foundation of full body strength and is what got me into lifting weights in the gym.

For the last 8 years I have been addicted, to improving and to progressing my body, pushing myself to the limit and learning about my own capabilities and strengths. Being strong as a woman really is so empowering! I have competed in 4 bodybuilding “Bikini’ shows, various “Strongman” events, I currently enjoy launching heavy stones off the floor and pulling cars!

One take away message from this if any is that; ‘females simply do not have enough testosterone to build huge amounts of muscle, in truth it is very difficult for a female to achieve a more muscular appearance naturally, so do not be afraid to push your body hard inside the gym. The weights room is not just for boys ;)’  Trust me; once you start to understand how powerful and resilient the female body can be, your enjoyment in the entire journey changes. 

Here are my top 5 benefits to strength training:

1. Fat burning – Weight training effectively burns energy hours after training and prolonged hours of cardio does not inflict enough stress on the body systems or produce enough lactic acid to lose those unwanted bulges! Weight training promotes energy burn whilst exercising but also hours after training. Alongside the correct nutrition the body is able to maintain lean muscle mass. Take note: More muscle = Higher rate of metabolism = More calories burnt at rest. It’s a ‘win win’ situation.

2. Improve your overall health
Building a strong lean muscle mass not only sculpts your body but gives your immune system a boost. When we become sick and our body becomes stressed, and the body’s nutritional demands change. In order to support the immune system and contribute towards recovery, your body requires protein – and a lot of it.  Diet alone won’t supply the amount of protein required to defend against illness. You body will find protein reserves from your muscle mass.

3. Osteoporosis – This disease is becoming an increasing worry for younger adults due to the sedentary lifestyles of the population. With lack inactivity this medical condition causes bones to become brittle and fragile from loss of tissue as a result of hormonal changes. Heavy weight training increases bone density, thus stimulates positive hormonal responses on the body. 

4. Daily Life – The more we move the more able we become, i.e your daily tasks, such as, carrying your child upstairs or your shopping home from the supermarket in one go. By improving total body strength, you reduce the risk of injury, optimise health; prevent diseases and function better on a day-to-day basis. Think past transforming your physique and think more about creating yourself a healthier lifestyle to improve the longevity of your life.

5. Superwoman – Lifting weights can create a true sense of empowerment, a boost in self confidence a toned and more sculpted body. Feeling strong as a women empowerment provides a sense of self-worth, strength, esteem, power and authority. 

Why not give this following lower body workout a go… 

Workout A Lower:

A) Squat 4×10 reps
     Rest 90s between sets

B1) Lying leg curl 4×10
B2) Dumbbell reverse lunge 4×10 – each leg
     Rest 45s between sets

C) Leg Press Neutral 4×15
    Rest 90s between sets

D) Smith Machine Hip Thrust 4×15
    Rest 60s – Final set try a ‘rest pause’ method; rest for 15s then go again as many reps as you can to failure!

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