Strength training can be a bit daunting to begin with, especially as it’s in the past been quite exclusive to men.
However, more and more women are getting into weight lifting and muscle gaining exercises, so there’s not better time to try something new.
Kate Maxey, Strength and Conditioning Master Trainer at Third Space, shares her knowledge.
Have you noticed more women take up strength training? And if so, why?
With the myths of lifting weights being solely for men becoming a thing of the past, it’s clear to see why are seeing a rise in women strength training. Take crossfit as an example, we have seen huge growth in recent years with inspirational women showing that they too can push their bodies to extremes and lift weights. Crossfit has created an environment where women feel confident to train alongside men, in a less intimidating setting than the mirror covered, bicep curling weight room. The first ever Strongwoman competition was held in 2016 – and since, there has been significant growth in women training like this. Strongwoman training involves using different equipment that is not readily available to most gyms e.g. log bars, atlas stones, farmer’s carry etc.
At Third Space, we have seen a +12% increase year on year participation in our Strength and conditioning group exercise programmes, which has subsequently led to the launch of the Yard at Canary Wharf and Yard Strong – a strong-man inspired, strength class and it’s interesting to see that over 50% of our Yard Strong participants are in fact female.
It’s important to also take note that the fitness market isn’t the same as what it was a decade ago, with more women partaking in sport and in the gym. We have witnessed an evolution of the ‘strong, not skinny’ movement – women are now more focussed on training like athletes and looking to achieve strong and athletic bodies, contributing to the rise in strength training for women.
Are there any common misconceptions surrounding it?
Previously, there have been misconceptions that lifting weights will make you bulky and we are now seeing more women embracing the athletic, lean and powerful bodies. However, lifting weights can be one of the most effective ways to reduce body fat and increase muscle mass, creating a lean, athletic figure, not the bulky image that has been created. If you stick to good diet and ensure resistance training is include within your workout, you can maximise your fat loss while minimising muscle loss, which help you gain an athletic, lean body.
Often classes have been given the reputation that it is where women go to practice their favourite 90s style workout routines. However, times are changing (at last!) The development of classes has led to both male and females entering the studios.
What advice would you give women wanting to get started?
Consistency is key: in the gym we are seeing more and more women and men making the gym their lifestyle. In turn, results are expected for time and effort with clients wanting to see their results in the weight that they are lifting or the meters they are rowing. Results are expected for time and effort spent in the gym. Via strength training you are able to physically see the benefits of lifting, not only through your bodies but more so from the number of kilograms lifted or how many meters rowed in a test.
The Yard Strong is inspired by the world’s strongest man competitions – think farmers carries and atlas stones which is a class at our functional training space, The Yard at Third Space Canary Wharf. The aim is only ever to develop, and each week be able to lift a little bit more. It is a strength class, it’s not about burpees – it’s about lifting. Come ready to learn correct technique and push yourself in each class.
Ask questions and seek the help of a trainer. Ensuring you have the correct technique is extremely important to make sure you are training effectively and in order to maximise your results.
Any particular exercises that are good for beginners? Tips?
Strength training is low impact, but offers rewarding results. When lifting weights there is little to no impact, which when practiced correctly makes it safe for all ages.
My top three exercises for beginners that you want to ensure you are including in your workout, whilst perfecting your technique each time are:
1. Squat – working nearly every muscle in your legs this compound full body movement is a must have in any workout. You can begin with body weight, then begin to increase the weight using a DB or a KB.
2. Shoulder press – working your upper body and importantly your core, this exercise will soon begin to sculpt your upper body and make you feel like a gym pro in no
Time. Begin with DB’s and progress to using a barbell in no time.
3. Back row – time to work that back. Most of us sit down all day and sit in one poor posture, we need to train in a different way to the movements we perform all day. Therefore, training your posterior chain (back/glutes/hamstrings) is a great way to improve posture and develop that great defined back, arms and core. Begin with DB’s, and begin to see the difference.
Don’t be afraid of going and lifting weights, trust me and in a few weeks you’ll have achieved more than ever before!