Written by Sarah Louise • Updated August 26, 2021
6 things every woman should know before they start lifting weights
It's no secret that going to the gym and lifting weights is incredible if you want to build muscle, get stronger and sculpt & tone your body. But stepping into the gym and lifting weights can seem daunting and overwhelming if you're new to it.
Here are 6 things I think every woman should know before they start lifting weights. It's things I wish someone had told me before I started going to the gym. These tips will help you avoid common pitfalls, so you can make the most of your new routine.
#1 Stop overthinking. No one is looking at you
One of the main things that stop a lot of women from going to the gym, is the fear of being judged by everyone there. Especially if you don't know what you're doing. But trust me when I say, no one is judging you. Absolutely no one.
Remember, that we are all at the gym for the same reason - to work on ourselves. Everyone has been where you are. Everyone was once a beginner and didn't know what they were doing. You should be proud of yourself for having the discipline to go the gym. For working on yourself. No one is ever thinking about you as much as you are thinking about you. In fact, other people are likely just as worried about other people looking as you are.
#2 Use dumbbells & barbells
If you want to tone & sculpt your body, you have to use weights. Yes, bodyweight exercises are great when you first start exercising, but there comes a point where it won't be challenging enough for your muscles. Using free-weights like dumbbells and barbells will engage more muscles, sculpt your body and strengthen your core a lot quicker than bodyweight exercises ever will.
So step away from the treadmill and head over to the weights area. Start by using light weights and just the barbell until you feel comfortable enough to add more weight to it. Focus on 'compound exercises' and aim for every workout to include at least 2-4 of these:
Lower body compound exercises:
Squats, Deadlifts, Lunges, Split Squats
Upper body compound exercises:
Bench press, Pushups, Pull ups, Bent over row
#3 Slow down the tempo
If you're currently doing high intensity workouts, you're used to moving fast, performing a lot of reps and jumping from one exercise to another with no rest in between. But when you start lifting weights you'll need to slow it waayy down.
It's quality over quantity. Proper technique, a controlled pace and enough rest between exercises is important to stay injury free. Aim to stay within the 8-15 rep range and have 1-3 minutes rest between sets. If you find yourself being able to complete a lot more reps than that it's because the weight is too light for you.
#4 Opt for low intensity cardio (LISS)
Cardio is amazing for our overall health and should always be something you include in your exercise routine. When you start lifting weights, swap some of your high intensity cardio like sprints, jumps and intervals out for low intensity cardio like running, walking or using a cardio machine.
Low intensity cardio is easier on your joints and preserves more energy & muscle. Lifting weights is already quite strenuous on your body, so if you mix that will high intensity cardio (all the time) you'll very quickly overwork your body and risk injury.
Focus on low intensity cardio where you are able to hold a continuous pace for 20-60 minutes.
#5 Rest days are important
Every time we lift weights we are breaking down the fibers in our muscles. In the 24-72 hours after a strength workout our muscles are building themselves back up again (which is why we feel sore after a workout). This is the part where the muscle grows and gets stronger and is an important part in the muscle-building process.
However, if you don't give your muscles rest after a workout, then a) you won't be able to perform well enough, and b) your muscles won't have recovered enough. Think of it like painting a wall - if you put the second coat of paint on before the first layer is dry, you're only doing more damage than good and it won't look nice.
If you want to strength train more than 3 times per week, split your workout into upper body days and lower body days or include active recovery days.
#6 You will get more hungry
Once you start lifting weights your hunger will increase and you'll need to eat more food. Especially carbs & protein. This is because of two reasons:
1) Weight training burns more calories, and
2) Muscles require fuel to build themselves up again.
Make sure to have a diet high in protein & carbs to fuel your muscles and workouts.
Lifting weights is an incredible way to see results quicker than with bodyweight exercises. Nothing feels as amazing as the strength and confidence you get from lifting weights, trust me!
If you're interested in lifting weights, make sure you're following a plan that's right for you. Whether you want to workout at home or in the gym, the trainn app will help you with a personalised training plan so you can feel comfortable knowing you're doing the right thing.
Personal trainer & founder of trainn
Hi, I'm Sarah Louise 👋🏼
I am one of the personal trainers on trainn, as well as the founder & creator of it all.
My aim is to take you on a personalised fitness journey to a body you love and a lifestyle you can maintain. Real advice. Real results.
After coaching thousands of clients for nearly a decade and gathering lots of experience, I have designed methods that are proven to make your results stick with you forever.
Take your fitness to the next level, regain confidence and create a consistent routine through personalised workouts, weekly goals, healthy habits & expert advice. All unique to you.
Start your fitness journey today