Let’s start off with this important fact: strength training will not make you look bulky or masculine. So many women shy away from lifting weights, and instead spend hours sweating away on a cross-trainer or treadmill. Don’t get me wrong, cardio plays a very important role in losing weight and increasing fitness, but if I had to choose one over the other, I would definitely choose strength training.
WHAT HAPPENS TO YOUR MUSCLES WHEN STRENGTH TRAINING?
When you put your muscles under tension (i.e. lift weights or body weight exercises such as press ups), tiny tears form in your muscle fibres. With adequate protein, glucose (carbohydrates) and water they repair in a stronger and tighter state which results in a toned physique, not a bulky one.
HOW WILL BUILDING MUSCLE HELP ME TO LOSE WEIGHT?
After each strength training session your muscles require energy and nutrients to recover, repair and survive. All of these processes utilise energy = burns calories!
Some studies say that 1lb of muscle can burn up to 50 calories per day. Whilst this may not be truly accurate (it will vary for each individual), it will increase your metabolism and that combined with a healthy diet will ensure you’re on the right track to achieving a healthy, strong, toned body.
HOW MUCH PROTEIN DO I NEED TO EAT?
On average you want to be consuming .825 grams of protein per pound of body weight (i.e. 140lb/10 stone individual needs to consume 115 grams of protein each day). This usually works out to 30-35% of your daily nutrient intake. Be sure to include varied sources of protein to ensure your body gets all of the nutrients it needs to function at its best.
HOW OFTEN DO I NEED TO STRENGTH TRAIN?
Different workout types will determine how many days you need to train each week and on which days. If you are doing a full body workout (i.e. Metabolic Circuit) then this can be done 3-4 times per week with one rest day in between each one. However, if you are following an upper body/lower body split workout you’ll want to do each one 2 times per week. You can do an upper body and lower body workout on consecutive days, ideally with a rest day before doing both again (i.e. Monday – Upper, Tuesday – Lower, Wednesday – Rest Day, etc.)
Your rest days are where you may choose to do cardio or something less strenuous on your body, like a yoga class or maybe a good roll around on your foam roller (not so relaxing but very effective!).
At the end of the day, you need to find what works best for you and what makes you feel your happiest and most confident!