Lifting weights might give you good biceps, but the mental benefits are just as impressive discovers Charlotte Haigh
You may think that strong women are born that way, but we can all get physically strong.
You just need to introduce weight training into your usual workout, which for many women is heavily focussed on cardio. Why bother? Because strength is about more than aesthetics. We need to be strong to climb stairs and carry laptops, bags, luggage or children without putting our backs out. According to Laura Hoggins, fitness coach and author of Lift Yourself, weight training is particularly important after the age of 30, when we begin losing muscle mass year on year, and our bodies change shape with the ageing process. This can cause bones to become more brittle.
It’s not all about how you look and feel physically, though. Women report being stronger mentally as their physical strength increases. For Julia Buckley, a personal trainer, there is also an element of mindfulness. ‘When I run, I think,’ she says. ‘When I’m lifting, I have to be completely focused on what I’m doing – it’s a real break for my brain, and I always come out of a session feeling de-stressed and refreshed.’ You really can lift your way to a stronger body and mind, here’s how…
Weightlifting, powerlifting, resistance and strength training are all weight-bearing exercises that create tiny microtears in muscle tissue, which then has to repair itself. The result? Stronger, bigger and more defined muscles that actually rev up your metabolism by burning calories faster and, in turn, keep your weight stable.
But the first thing you must master is your technique, says Hoggins. ‘You need to lift correctly to protect against injuries and get the most from each exercise. Get used to doing a range of compound movements, such as press-ups and squats, without any weights. These are body-weight exercises and are a great way to get going, even at home – you’ll find lots of tutorials on YouTube.’
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