When I first started lifting weights a couple years ago, I would’ve laughed in your face if you told me it was about to become my favorite form of exercise. I had always associated weightlifting with big, bulky dudes who wobbled while they walked, but I quickly learned how rewarding (and fun) it was – no matter your gender or size.
Besides, it completely changed my physique, and that was something I couldn’t argue with. Now I lift weights five times a week – which may sound excessive to some people – but it has truly become the part of the day I look forward to the most. However, I didn’t get to this point effortlessly. I ran into a lot of obstacles along the way, and looking back, I realize that there weren’t many resources out there to help women in the weight room. If I could turn back time, I would give myself these tips:
You Won’t See Results If You Don’t Eat Right: Just like anything you do – if you don’t eat right, it doesn’t work. I didn’t see many tangible results from my lifting program until I cleaned up my diet. I started eating more calories, which is crucial for your muscles to get stronger, but I cut out packaged foods, sugar, and even oil. Within a few weeks, I could see that I was toning up, and others started to comment on the change as well.
Record Everything You Do: Keeping track of how much you’re lifting each week will be the key to improving regularly. Whether it’s in an app built for lifting, or simply in the Notes section on your phone – record your numbers from every single session. I wish I had done that from the beginning, because I would have been able to see the progress I was making. Now that I jot down how much I lift for every one of my exercises — from bench presses to back squats to tricep pull-downs — I have the motivation to work harder and increase my numbers and weights. There’s nothing better than when you come to the realization that you just out lifted yourself.
You Still Need Cardio: As much as I hate cardio, I have to admit that I didn’t see results until I added it regularly into my workout routine. One of my previous trainers told me it’s impossible to burn fat and slim down if you’re only lifting weights, because cardio and strength training are equally important. As soon as I added more running and cycling sessions into my routine (I now do cardio five times a week), my body responded in a way it hadn’t before. That’s when the extra layer dropped off around my waistline, and my thighs slimmed down. The best part about cardio – is it can be done anywhere! So, I choose to go hiking with the love of my life every weekend, and at least 3 nights a week we’ll go for a run together. Not only does my body look better, but my relationship is stronger too!
You Can Lift Heavier Than You Think: We’re used to seeing men lifting heavy weights, while women do yoga or do a body weight circuit. While there’s nothing wrong with either of those workouts, it can be deceiving. Women have an incredible capability to lift heavy weights, as long as they put in the effort and use the correct form. For example, I was shocked to learn how much I could squat after I put in just a few weeks of work. As I gained more confidence, I methodically added more and more weight — and now I can squat over 150 pounds!
Whether you’re a beginner, or you’ve been lifting for a while now – try some of these tips out and let me know what you think!