It is a MYTH that women bulk up when they start strength training. Strength training leads to slender, toned muscles and tight skin. Losing weight without strength training may cause you to be ’skinny fat’. This means that you’ll be skinny with flabby skin.
There are two types of strength training: training with weights and training with your body weight. Using both is the most effective method. You can use free weights like dumbbells or use weight machines. No matter what option you choose, ALWAYS be careful. Sprained muscles are not fun, especially when you need to take time away from exercising for them to heal.
Start with light weights until they are easy, and then move onto heavier weights. If you stick with light weights your weight loss is VERY likely to stall. This is because your body is so used to the current weight that it’s not being pushed to the limit anymore. Don’t be stubborn, go heavier or watch progress slip away.
If you’re on a tight budget, buy small sets at a time e.g. 0.5lbs to 3lbs instead of 0.5lbs to 12lbs. There is no need to buy a large set because it will take years to work up to the heavier weights.
Before you start using it, remember to adjust the equipment for your height and strength. If you want to be extra hygienic, wipe the handlebars and seat down first, but remember that you’re just as sweaty as the last person to use it. If you are unsure about how to use the machine, ask a member of staff for a demonstration. Don’t risk injury by experimenting yourself. If the machine is too difficult, stick with free weights.
This is the cheapest option, but not a long-term solution. Strength training with your body weight consists of exercises like push-ups, sit-ups, squats, lunges, etc. You are working the muscles without any weight besides your body. Naturally, as you lose fat your body weight decreases, and your muscle strength increases, so you should find the routines easier. To avoid your weight loss stalling, start using free weights and/or strength training machines to keep pushing your body.
Beginners should start with body weight exercises and resistance bands before progressing to weight machines and dumbbells. Don’t worry if you feel weak at first! Strength training is about progression, not miracle results. You WILL improve over time, and have an amazing body to show for it.