Are you going heavy?

So what’s your training like?
Is it achieving the desired results?
Don’t tell me you don’t want arms that are slender and toned, legs that don’t wobble around the thighs, a belly that doesn’t hang over your jeans.
Of course we all strive for this but let me ask you, are you getting those sort of results through what you are doing right now?
As we age, each decade our body gets less efficient at working properly and staying toned. I know that we are ageing and our bodies can’t stay just like they were when we were younger, but we have taken up some bad habits that are not doing our bodies any favours – sitting down too long, crossing your legs, standing on one leg more than the other, etc, but I’m not blogging about posture and alignment today, I want you to consider doing more weight training.
Going into my 40s I was getting okay results with my fitness levels and am fortunate in that my upper body is quite strong naturally, however I felt as I reached 45 something had to change. The toning wasn’t really getting me the results I wanted and being conscious of the menopause approaching at some point in the next 5-10 years, I felt I needed to take stronger action.
So how would I go about doing this? Well for a start I needed to shift away from endurance training, which although great, wasn’t getting me results. I was worried though about hitting the gym and the section where only men seem to hang out which never seems all that accessible to be honest.
It took me another year before I finally decided Crossfit so that I could do the Olympic lifting. As I’ve already blogged the foundation was a real come out of your comfort zone time and did make me question my fitness in its entirety and my mobility but now 9 months on, I can safely say, lifting weights is having the desired effect and now technique is getting there, I want to see how far my body will go in a safe way.
I read recently that according to the Journal of American Medical Association that women over 40 who lift weights can have better strength and bone density than women who are younger. A year of weight training could give you back 10-15 years!
So what’s the different between strength and endurance training?
With strength training the aim is to increase your load so you do shorter reps and have rest time in between sets.
With endurance training you could be doing 10-20 reps of an exercise to achieve fatigue at the end because it is low load.
Strength training should push you more quickly to fatigue as it requires more power and force to lift the weights. Olympic lifting is a prime example of strength training. If you were doing a strength training session, you would not expect to do loads of reps.
So how often do you do say 5 reps of a heavy weight and then take a minute rest? Have you ever tried to lift a weight that is going to be a serious challenge to achieve your 1 rep max? Obviously before trying to lift any heavy weights, you have to get your technique but once you have that, then the weight can increase.
I think women still fear that they will bulk up but this is difficult to do without a lot of supplementation to assist and probably many hours in the gym. Bar work doesn’t mean you come out like Mike Tyson. I would say that you can actually get a leaner, more developed body than ever before with weight training. Combine your exercise with the right type of nutrition and you have a hugely successful formula. Remember it is not exercise alone that gets us results.
So how to get started. Basic moves like squats – get going with them using your own body weight and then bring in dumbells. Over time as you improve technique you can increase your dumbell weight. Try deadlifting an empty bar to start with as you sort out technique so that you use your legs not your back. Try some squats with an empty bar across your back/shoulders again to feel a bit of weight and to get technique. Just having a bar across your back and lunging can be challenging enough in the beginning.
I would say you are looking at a good 3-6 months of sorting out technique as you gradually increase your weights and there will be a plateau point as you refine your technique even further so that you can start to go heavier if you want to.
For recording results, the scales are not relevant here, we are looking at how your muscle tone is shaping up. You could do measurements but to be honest, look in the mirror you will see your shape changing and you will also realise that you feel much stronger and more confident. There is nothing more satisfying than achieving a lift or getting through a tough workout. This feeling of power will filter through to all that you do – do I still need to persuade you to take up weights?
So one last consideration – wouldn’t you like to look stronger, feel younger and have more energy than a 20 year old? All can be achieved – just pick up that dumbell and away we go.