Why Weight Training Matters & The Moves To Try
Why Weight Training Matters & The Moves To Try

Why Weight Training Matters & The Moves To Try

Weight training is an important part of any fitness routine, but it can be a daunting prospect if you don’t know where to start. To get you off on the right foot, we asked two experts to answer some key questions.
By Georgia Day

Why is it important to incorporate weights into your workout routine? 

“A muscle-centric approach will offset many modern-world issues, such as bad posture, muscle weaknesses due to inactivity, and even type 2 diabetes. Strengthening your muscles will lower the chances of injuries, increase your metabolic rate, increase glucose absorption, help with lowering body fat and increase bone density.” – Luiz Silva, head of fitness & wellbeing & personal trainer at Castle Royle

“Weight training can help develop specific movement patterns that are important for your day-to-day life, and can help injury prevention, overcome imbalances in the body, and develop explosive power if you’re involved in sports or activities that require this.” – Fran Bungay, head coach at Goal Specific Coaching & the Training Today App

Why is using weights important for women?

“Weights help strengthen bones (therefore minimising the risks of osteoporosis), connective tissue and ligaments, and they are great for heart health, stress relief and fat loss. This obviously applies to men as well. As we age, unless we work our muscles, we will lose muscle mass (known as sarcopenia), so incorporating strength training into your routine will prevent loss of muscle mass. Ensuring that adequate protein is consumed throughout the day is another important part of this.” – Fran 

“We tend to lose muscle quicker as we age, and this speeds up as the years go by. Increasing bone density should be one of the top priorities for women, because as they reach the menopausal stage, they will be losing calcium faster and could be at higher risk of osteoporosis. Weight training can counteract this, as the stress on the muscles and bones can stimulate the production of new bone cells, especially if done from an earlier age. There are also many other benefits such as increased muscle strength, which will help with functionality on a daily basis.” – Luis 

Is there anyone who should steer clear of weights?

“If there are underlying health issues, muscle disorders or injuries, or you have recently had surgery, then you may need to avoid strength training. If this is the case, consulting a health professional is essential before commencing a strength programme.” – Fran

How can you make sure you use them safely?

“Always complete a warm-up, as this increases your heart rate, and gets the heart pumping blood and oxygen to the specific muscles you will be working. After that, do some dynamic stretches before starting. Always focus on form, not weights. Time invested in this will help you develop excellent movement patterns and will minimise the risk of injury. Once you are confident with the technical elements of lifting, then you can increase the load, but go slowly and plan for recovery periods within your training as well. This enables the muscles to repair and grow.” – Fran

What are some signs that you may have overdone it?

“Feeling run-down, heavy muscles, unusual muscle soreness, acute pains and lack of energy. These are all signs to look out for to make sure your training is correct.” – Luis

“If you suddenly increase the weights, you are setting yourself up for an injury. It's a balance between overload and recovery, which includes fuelling correctly for the work as well. Any pull or swelling that lingers is a sign that you have pulled a muscle or a ligament. Ice it, take a few days off, and book an appointment with a physio if necessary. Using an app that measures your heart rate variability can help here as it will indicate what your readiness to train score is, based on your recovery.” – Fran

Why are some people nervous about using weights?

“There's a stigma that weight training will give you a bodybuilder's body, which is completely inaccurate, as weight training for most of the population will generate enough results for a well-toned body. People also think that cardio training is the only way to lose weight, which is also inaccurate, as you can lose weight, more specifically body fat, by having a good weights routine and diet.” – Luis

If you’ve never used weights before, how can you start?

“Book a gym induction with a qualified professional, so you can get a programme to follow, or hire the services of a personal trainer. Make sure you revise your programme regularly, so you can progress it accordingly as your levels go up and down. Focus on learning the correct form before increasing the weight. Remember, this is a long-term journey.” – Luis

“Start with bodyweight only. Fixed resistance machines can also be of benefit, as they have a fixed plane of movement, therefore require less skill to use. However, you can still introduce load too quickly and cause injury, so always be conservative. Among the many benefits of using free weights is that you are developing your balance, co-ordination and body awareness (proprioception), which develops a mind-muscle connection. This can help develop flexibility, improve posture and core stability. Focus on mastering technique, then you can move onto introducing weights.” - Fran

Are weights something we should be doing daily?

“The frequency will depend on the type of programme you are doing and the goals you want to achieve. Even the most advanced weightlifters should have at least one day off. If you're a beginner, I'd recommend two to three times per week following one programme, then changing it every 8-12 weeks. After six months of consistently doing two to three sessions per week, then you could split your programme into two different ones and do each twice per week, making it three or four sessions per week. This frequency will give you great results.” – Luis

“The ACSM (American College of Sports Medicine) recommendations are to include strength work two times a week, focusing on 10-12 repetitions of eight to ten exercises targeting the major muscles in your body.” – Fran

Finally, can weights still be useful if used in isolation?

“Yes, and it all links back to what your goals are. Remember that if you are specifically focused on weight training, you do still need to do a good warm-up – some dynamic stretches and ten to 20 minutes on a cardio machine first. Then your body is nicely warmed up before you start introducing load to your muscles. Once completed, go in reverse, and finish with a stretch. Developing strength can impact your flexibility, therefore stretching and mobility work is really important.” 

Weights exercises to try for beginners…

Start with lighter weights that you can comfortably lift ten to 15 times without compromising your form. Weights (dumbbells or kettlebells are both good) between 2kg-5kg should be appropriate for a beginner. 

Dumbell Single-Arm Rows
For Back & Upper Arms

  1. Place your left knee on the end of bench with your left hand facing down on the bench.
  2. Keeping your back as straight and parallel to the ground as you can, reach down with your right hand and pick up a weight with your palm facing the bench.
  3. Slowly bring the weight up to your chest. Squeeze your back and shoulder muscles as you go, and slowly straighten your arm until it’s back at the starting position.
  4. Continue for 10 to 12 reps, then swap arms and do the same with your right knee and right hand on the bench.

Tricep Extensions
For Triceps

  1. Sit on the edge of a bench or stand with your feet hip width apart.
  2. Place both your hands around the dumbbell or kettlebell handle.
  3. Lift it up over your head keeping your arms straight.
  4. Keeping your elbows by your ears, bend your arms to a 90º angle, then lower the weight behind your head.
  5. Slowly straighten your arms so that the dumbbell is above your head again.
  6. Repeat for 10 to 12 reps.

DISCLAIMER: Features published by SheerLuxe are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease. Always seek the advice of your GP or another qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise or other health-related programme.

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