Weight Training for Women: Tips from a New “Lady Lifter”

With six months until W-Day (wedding day), I recently challenged myself to take on a new fitness program—something I’ve never done before because I never thought I could. I decided to start free-weight training as part of my #HealthyMe goals.

Weight training might not seem like a big deal for some women, but for me the most weight I ever cared to use were a few 5 pound hand weights when I wanted to mix up a cardio workout. I was always intimidated by the side of the gym where seriously toned men and women would lift what looked to be extremely heavy dumbbells and plates, so I generally stuck to the guided resistance machines.

Resistance machines are great for beginners because they can be less intimidating, but free weights can help you achieve more noticeable improvements and strengthen muscles you don’t normally use.

healthy me angelaToday, I am one month into my first free weight training plan and I absolutely love it. I am feeling confident, happy and of course, pretty sore. I’ve noticed my mood is better and I have more energy.

While I’m no expert, I definitely encourage women who are interested in lifting to give it a try. Here are three tips to get you started:

  1. Make a plan: It’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the equipment if you aren’t used to it. Before you go to the gym, do research to help you create a plan based on your goals. This way, you know ahead of time what exercises you will do when you get there (no one wants to wander around looking lost!). Bodybuilding.com and LiveStrong are two good places to start searching and creating your plan.
  2. Don’t overdo it: Be sure to use the right amount weight, or you could hurt yourself. Make sure the weight is challenging, but you absolutely must stick to proper form. Start low and you can always add on—the point is to slowly build strength. By the third set of an exercise, you’ll notice those “light” weights really start to feel heavy.
  3. Have fun: It’s important to have fun and not worry about impressing anyone but yourself. Sure, many people take lifting very seriously, whether it is for personal fitness, competition or job-related. For me, I try to focus on having fun at the gym by going with a friend or listening to a great playlist.

Ultimately, ladies, there’s no reason to be afraid of crossing into free weight territory at the gym.

What tips do you have for using free weights for the first time? What other resources would you recommend for women who are interested in learning more?

Photo credit: Usodesita

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Read 4 Comments

  1. To challenge yourself, throw in HIIT between sets. Adding a 30 second blast of cardio between sets will keep you energized, warm, and won’t fatigue you to the point of not being able to lift. My favorites are 30 seconds of jumping jacks or mountain climbers between sets.

    Also, a lot of people would recommend hitting the weight machines first. Free weights tend to put a lot of unexpected stress on your stabilizer muscles, so getting to know the move prior to going full boar can prove to be beneficial. Don’t use the leg press though. It doesn’t give you a comfortable range of motion like good old squats will.

    1. I never thought to do cardio between sets, Matt. Great idea! I usually end with 15 minutes on the treadmill or stairmaster, but I will definitely try that out. And good info about the machines, I agree. Thanks for sharing your insights!

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