Why you shouldn't be scared of strength training

Posted by Anthea England on | Tags: Fitness

Does one glance at the weights room have you running back to the treadmill? Do not be afraid! Strength training is the ticket to toning up, torching fat and getting your best body – for life. Here’s our simple guide.

Like many things in life – training is all about balance. Sure, a run around the park or a spin class is a simple way to boost fitness and get your sweat on. You’ll burn off your brekkie and feel a million bucks. But adding strength sessions will give you a longer-lasting fat burn that goes well beyond breakfast.

Weightlifting kettlebellsBecky Shaw, PT and Principle Director at Enliven Coaching, explains why. “Imagine cardio as a big bunch of small sticks on a hot fire. The sticks burn up fast and fierce! Cardio burns calories fast and only for a short period of time,” Shaw says. “But imagine strength as a big log of wood. When you place it on the fire it takes a long time to burn down and will continue to burn all day. Strength training will continue to burn calories throughout the day and while you sleep. The body is working hard to repair from your training, which takes up a lot of energy and burns calories while doing so.” We’re sold.

Myth busting

While strength training is undoubtedly critical to achieving your best body, women in particular still avoid it. Why? There’s a long-standing misconception that strength training will make you big and bulky. This is wildly inaccurate for a number of reasons.

For one, women don’t have the ability to gain muscle like men do – so you’re certainly not going to “accidentally” get ripped from swinging a few kettlebells. “Women don’t have the same hormone profile as men, and therefore cannot gain enough lean mass to look super bulky,” Shaw explains. “For females, it is a lot harder to burn body fat and gain muscle fast due to our hormones.”

Sure, over time, depending on your training, load and rest, you’ll build muscle – however this is definitely not a bad thing. “If females are wanting to gain some muscle for a peachy booty and shape, a bit of bulk is good!” says Shaw. Plus, it has other benefits beyond your bikini. “The term ‘bulk’ can be thrown around negatively within the gym, when really the more muscle you have, the more fat you burn at rest and the more you can eat,” says Shaw. “It’s a win win for us!”

Where to start?

Want to give it a go, but don’t know where to start? Firstly, a few sessions with a PT or in a small group class can go a long way. There’s plenty of gyms that offer strength classes – or just engage a PT for a few sessions.

Start by mastering some basic moves, so you can get your technique right and avoid injury. “Some of the basics we practice are squats, lunges, deadlifts, shoulder press and row,” says Shaw. “Obviously there are loads of different exercises but these basics are the foundations for training.” Once you’ve mastered these, you can progress from there.

Scared off by all the weights and barbells? Don’t be – for one, it’s not always essential for strength training. “Equipment does have its place and can help increase strength with loaded bars or various strength training machines,” says Shaw. “However, bodyweight training can be very effective for strength training and you don’t need any equipment.” She suggests trying classes mixed with weights and bodyweight training – the variety can help you push past plateaus.

The take-home message: give strength a go! It can fast-track your results – no muscle tee required.
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