Weight training is daunting to most people especially women. Giving our dainty frames and forms, pumping iron just does not seem natural. But actually it is pretty natural once you give it a try. My last post about Why Women Must Lift Weights had many readers emailing me and asking for tips. So here I am sharing some beginner tips for women starting strength training. Please note that I am not a professional trainer and only share from my own experience. That said, here we go.
Always take baby steps when you are start any new regimen. While you can start using home fitness videos, I would suggest that you invest in 3 months of gym with a personal trainer. This is so that you get guidance about what kind of exercises to start with that are suitable for you. And also you get to learn the right way of doing the exercises. This is very important.
It is not necessary actually not desirable at all to start lifting heavy as soon as you begin. Unused muscles will find it hard enough to cope with bodyweight exercises. So bodyweight exercises like lunges, squats, planks etc. are extremely effective when you start out.
Even for upper body go without weight for the first few times till your body is ready to start lifting weights. And when you do start from the lowest weight and build upon it when your body feels ready.
I can currently lift 4 Kgs. in each hand and I think I am ready to try out 5 Kgs. each but I took a few months to be ready.
Warm up and cool down adequately
Never ever begin strength training or any form of exercise without adequately warming up your muscles. If you don’t, you may cause injury. So invest at least 5 minutes for warming up and again 5 minutes for stretching and cool down when you finish your workout.
Rest days are important
As you begin strength training, you will experience a lot of muscle soreness especially the next day and maybe day after as well. Never exercise the same muscle group two days in a row. So if you have done lower body today, rest it tomorrow.
Also, get one-two days of rest from all exercise in a week. Remember that your body needs time to repair itself.
Form always wins over the amount of weight you lift
Getting your posture and form right is very important. Do not try to lift more at the cost of your form going awry, it may lead to injury and also will be ineffective for the muscle group you are exercising.
Post workout nutrition
I can’t stress enough on the post workout nutrition when you are strength training. Many people feel that since you are doing muscle work, you must have a lot of protein post workout. While you must have protein in your post workout meal, also have adequate carbs and water to replenish your body’s energy stores and water reserves. Protein is needed to repair the muscle tear which helps build stronger muscles over the long term.
Set achievable goals:
You may notice that you don’t lose weight on the scale when you start weight training. This is because as you burn fat, you gain muscle and sometimes the weight lost may compensate for the weight gained. Know that your muscles are getting stronger and that you are losing fat which is the aim of any weight loss regimen. Also, don’t expect any rapid changes.
As a beginner, start small and build on small weekly goals.
Do not expect to see too many gains till you have put in at least 3 months of strength training. Ideally, it should become a part of your fitness routine along with cardio or Yoga so that your body stays lean and in shape.
Regularity is the key. Aim to do strength training 3-4 days in a week and at least for 10-15 minutes at a time excluding warm up and cool down.
Don’t compare yourself with others
Set your own goals and work with your own body. Don’t compare to others as you don’t know their story, how long they have been working out and their journey.
Maintain a journal or calendar entries to document your goals and progress.
Good luck and hope you are excited to begin strength training. Remember that lean muscle is not only good for your body but is also better at burning calories even when the body is at rest. So less work for you to maintain your optimum weight. Also as we age, this will help strengthen our joints and bones and makes us stronger and flexible overall.
Vasantha Vivek says
Strength training for women is a must for today's scenario. Very useful collection of tips. thanks for sharing!
Thanks Vasantha. Glad you found it useful.
Wow!1 4 kgs is impressive Rachna – loved your prev article on this topic too! Way to go with your strength training. I am very inspired and am thinking of gifting myself a gym membership this bday!!
Thanks, Shalz. You really must. Yes, a gym membership for 3-6 months works really well.
Shailaja V says
Impressive. I lift four kg but with both hands. You’ve clearly gotten stronger and more fit as the years have gone by .
I admire your persistent efforts and these step by step instructions too.
Nabanita Dhar says
Admire your commitment to health. Very inspiring, Rachna.
Will come back to these instructions when and if I start this.
These are some great tips Rachna, very useful especially for beginners and could serve as reminders even for those who have been training a short while :). I especially loved the idea of noting down progress in a journal, somehow haven’t done that much except when trying P90X a loooong time ago ;). I must get back to it, would be very motivating I think.
Here’s to an ever strong fitness journey!
Thank you, Aparna. I am hopeful that more women will take to strength training. Most women just are too scared of lifting weights. And it's good to reiterate these points to ourselves as well when we find ourselves slacking off.
the bespectacled mother says
I started strength training 1 year ago with 1 kg and today I am at 2.5 kg with one hand and 3 kg with both. I need to read and learn more about muscle groups. It would be great help if you can write about this.
That's good progress, Anamika. We never want to rush it with weights. Yes, I am planning to do some posts on specific exercises for specific muscle groups.