It’s been a year since I wrote my beginner’s guide to weightlifting for women, and it’s proved to be one of the most-read posts on this blog. Since there seems to be so much interest in the topic of women working out with weights, I thought you might like an update on what happened next.
The short version is – a year on, I’m still (mostly) working out with weights. Which is surprising to me, because normally one of the ways I keep exercise interesting is by changing my routine every three to six months. But since every weights session is different (I might be flinging a kettlebell or squatting with a bar bell or using a machine) there’s much less capacity for it to get boring.
So right now, on a typical gym session I will run on the treadmill for 20 minutes, then spend the rest of the time on the weights. Since I spend a lot of my day at a keyboard I particularly focus on shoulders, arms, back and core. Gotta look after the machine.
The other thing I’ve done is join a small group women-only weights training session. This involves working out with a personal trainer in groups of two to four. It’s a much more affordable way to work out with a trainer, plus it’s more fun than doing it on your own. It’s a very intensive session, and every week I feel like I can barely walk afterwards, yet by the next week there I am back again for more.
Fitness-wise the most exciting thing for me is that I can now do full press ups. I had been trying to do these for years and years with no success. My weedy arms just weren’t having it. Then when I passed 50 I figured it probably wasn’t going to happen.
However, a kind personal trainer showed me a little technique twist that made all the difference. Essentially it involves starting the press up with arms raised and lowering yourself down. I had been starting from the floor and attempting to hoick myself up and it was just impossible. And by making that change, pretty soon I could full press ups, and now I do 10 most days. I know it’s not massive by most people’s standards but it feels huge to me.
Stay strong, friends!
So if you are a woman who’s thinking of getting into working out with weights, this is my advice
- Body Pump classes are a great place to start. They involve weightlifting to music; usually 10 tracks each focusing on a different muscle group.
- Kettlebell classes are also great.
- This book is worth reading.
- Get some sort of expert help before you start. Even a single session with a personal trainer will be worth it if it stops you putting your back out.
- Don’t be afraid to lift up the big weights (or at least bigger than you think you can manage).
- Wear bright nail varnish. Trust me, it’s a good distraction.
- Don’t be put off by how man-heavy the weights area in the gym is. You’re unlikely to be the only woman there and even if you are, so what? Be a pioneer.