What’s the one thing every sporty person does in the gym? No, we’re not talking actually rolling out of bed and getting there (though that’s right, too!) We’re talking weightlifting. Yep, training with weights has become big news in the past couple of years with celebs like Millie Mackintosh and Cameron Diaz all advocating the benefits. But if you’re still a little unsure as to what to do with weights (and find that weights room in the gym totally intimidating) we spoke to fitness trainer, blogger and personal trainer Zanna van Dijk for her advice…
OK, so we know we should weight lifting. But why?
There are so many benefits to introducing weights into your fitness routine, especially for women. It helps to increase bone density and strength muscles and joints, which supports your development over time and reduces the risk of injury. It builds muscle tone leading to the development of a longer, leaner physique. Plus it makes you feel like a badass.
How do I start?
I usually recommend getting a session or two with a personal trainer to really get off to the best start with lifting weights. They can show you how to use them with correct form and reduce the risk of injury and make sure you’re using the right muscles, to get the results you want.
And what about finding the right weight for me? How will I know if it’s heavy enough?
Trial and error. You should be really struggling to do the last rep. Gone are the days of light weights for numerous reps. Pick up a challenging weight and do fewer reps, I promise the results will astound you!
What can you do to ensure you don’t get injured?
Focus on form aka doing the exercise right. Take it slow. Listen to your body. Warm up and cool down appropriately – I recommend using the Deep Heat Muscle Massage Roll on Lotion on prior to exercise on any tight spots to loosen them up!
If you want to see changes to your body, how often and for how long should you use weights for?
I recommend lifting weights a minimum of twice a week to really get lasting positive results. Stick with it forever, it’s not a short term thing, it’s a ongoing process. The best bit about weights is you can constantly get stronger and see results.
What are some of your favourite exercises that you advise a beginner to do?‘
Stick to the basics – squats and lunges are amazing for your legs and core, plus there’s a million and one different ways to do them. For upper body try shoulder presses, bicep curls and tricep extensions to strength and tone your arms. Give rows and pull downs a go to improve your posture and develop a lovely lean back.
Is there anything that’s a total no no that could cause damage?
The only thing to avoids is swinging around weights: always do movements with control.
There seem to be lots of different types of weights now, from kettle bells to medicine balls – what’s the difference between them?
They can all be used in different ways. Dumbbells and barbells are classic and tend to be used for more controlled movements. Kettle bells and medicine balls are more versatile and can be used in things like high intensity circuits, can be thrown against the floor or swung between your legs.
What other exercises can you do to help build your strength?
The best way to build strength is by weight lifting itself. You can however do bodyweight training using equipment such as TRX suspension trainers, or just by doing moves like push ups, tricep dips etc in the comfort of your own home!
Which weighted moves are best for arms/bingo wings?
Bicep curls, tricep extensions, tricep dips, shoulder presses, lateral raises, chest flyes.
And for your tummy?
If you engage your core during other weighted exercises, you will target your core! No crunches needed.
What about a strong butt/thighs?
Squats, lunges, deadlifts.
For your back?
Rows, pull downs, pull ups!
Lots of women find the weight room at the gym intimidating, what’s your advice for getting over this?
I recommend going with a friend to begin with and making a plan for your workout, so you know exactly what you’re doing once you get in there. The main thing is addressing your mindset. You need to realise that the gym is where people go to make positive changes to their health. No one is there to judge. Everyone is there to better themselves. If anyone looks at your when you go into the weights area they’re probably just thinking “respect!”.
Any other advice you would give someone totally new to lifting weights?
Do your research, look at exercises online, watch videos, look on social media. Flood yourself with information and exercise ideas. Write down what you want to do and give it a go!
For more information on how Deep Heat can help with your workouts, click here.