Strength training is one of the best things you can do for your body. It is about making your body strong, pushing past your mental barriers and becoming the best version of yourself. As a major component of fitness, it is important that you learn to train the correct way and make the most of each workout. Below are 10 tips for strength training for women that I find beneficial to help reap all the benefits possible.
1 USE THE BEST EXERCISES FOR YOUR BODY
Not one exercise fits all. Everyone’s body is different, therefore you need to consider your mobility, injuries (current or past), and any other limitations before choosing your exercise. Whether it is barbell squats, shoulder presses or plyometrics, not everyone will be able to perform the same exercises, nor should they. Listen to your body and execute the movements that are safe and efficient for YOU.
2 QUALITY OVER QUANTITY
One thing I repeat to my clients over and over again is do not just go through the movements, feel the movement. There is no point of rushing just to get the exercise done with. Make every single rep count but using controlled movements and proper technique. Leave your ego at the door and use less weight if you need to in order to get the most out of your exercises and perform them correctly.
3 MAKE SMALL, STEADY IMPROVEMENTS IN PERFORMANCE
Whether you are repeating a workout that is part of your training program or just an exercise, make it better than last time. It does not have to be a big jump, it can be small steps forward, but improvement is needed for progress. Ways to make improvements include: adding weight, increasing reps, increasing sets, decreasing rest periods, and/or improving form. In my personal powerlifting program, I increase the amount of weight 5 to 15 pounds for my main lifts every week. Remember slow, consistent improvements add to large changes over time.
4 GET STRONG!
You don’t always have to train for fat loss or maintenance. Of course, there are times when we train to lean out and/or maintain, but women should also dedicate a least several months of training to focus on getting strong. You’ll be surprised of what your body can do! As a bikini competito, I was only concerned about getting lean and keeping a low body fat percentage for years. Now that I am powerlifting, I am lifting weight that I never imagined my body could do by changing my training style and my mindset. Plus, heavy strength training can still support fat loss! Being strong and building muscle does not automatically mean big and bulky. In fact, some of the best and strongest female athletes and powerlifters are lean (and sexy if I do say myself). So go on girl and get strong!
5 REFUSE TO ALLOW YOUR EXCUSES HOLD YOU BACK
Injuries, busy schedules, family, weather…anything can be used as an excuse to not go workout. However, it is up to YOU to be stronger than your excuses and to adapt to your current circumstance in order to get the job done. For example, if you have a physical limitation, there will be exercises that you won’t be able to perform, but that does not mean you can’t work around it. When I recently fractured my ribs, I couldn’t lift heavy or do certain high intensity workouts, but I was still in the gym almost every day working out and doing exercises that would not cause pain. I had a client who broke her leg and was in a wheelchair for a few months, but that did not stop her from meeting with me three times every week. We performed corrective exercises for her lower body while still training the upper body hard and she still made progress! My point is, if there is an opportunity to use an excuse to skip your workout, be better than that and work around it.
6 DON’T FORGET THE BASICS
In order to build a strong house, construction workers need to build a strong solid foundation. When it comes to fitness, proper nutrition, strength training and cardio are the basics (your foundation) that you can’t skip to get the body you want. Consistently strength training with the focus of improving performance, completing cardio sessions (in balanced amounts) and consuming a healthy diet of mostly unprocessed foods, will allow you to build a strong foundation for a strong body.
7 BE COMFORTABLE WITH BEING UNCOMFORTABLE
Your body won’t go where your mind won’t let it. Weight training not only builds physical strength but also mental strength. When you challenge yourself and learn to love the feeling of truly pushing your body, you will be able to see what you are cable of doing. There is no better feeling than finishing a tough workout and knowing that you pushed yourself further than you have before. Yes, it will be uncomfortable and challenging during the workout, but that is what makes it worth it. So, struggle on!
8 YES PAIN, LESS GAIN
The phrase “No pain, no gain” should actually be “Yes pain, less gain.” There is a misconception in the fitness world that you need to hurt in order for it to be a good workout and “make gains”. Now, I’m not talking about the burn and fatigue during the workout or the muscle soreness that comes after. I’m talking about actual physical pain that causes harm to the body. Pushing through an injury or pain while exercising won’t make it disappear. In fact, it can make it worse and keep you from working out down the road. If you focus on moving pain free and you feel good, your strength and progress will follow.
9 OWN THE THINGS YOU CAN’T CHANGE ON YOUR BODY
There are some of your body that you can’t physiologically change, like your height, the length of your arms and legs, and your body structure. I have muscular thighs and people have always known me for that. Depending on my training, the thickness will vary but they are on the bigger side regardless. The only time I ever had “skinny” legs in my life was when I was severely sick with anorexia where my weight ranged from 94 to 115 pounds. Instead of continuing to be self-conscious of my legs and wishing I had a thigh gap, I have learned to be proud of my legs. These legs have helped as an athlete on the soccer field, walked me across stage in five inch heels at bodybuilding shows, gave me strength to beat records in the powerlifting and carry me each and every day. I own my thick thighs and you should own your body!
10 CONSISTENCY IS KEY FOR SUCCESS
You can’t expect to get results if you do not consistently put in the work. Those who have reached AND maintained their goals have mastered consistency and may have even made it a habit. The only way you will look and feel noticeably different in 3 months, 6 months and 12 months from now is if you are consistent with your effort and dedication during those months. So if you find that you are constantly missing workouts or not eating a healthy diet on most days of the week, fix it! Create a game plan and be prepared for anything that can be thrown in your way.
Article inspired from “32 Beautiful Badass Strength Training Tips and Principles” by Nia Shanks.