When you think about weight training, what the first thing that comes to mind?
Big sweaty guys in tiny vests, picking up heavy things and putting them down again maybe?
It's not surprising. Weight training has got a seriously bad rep among women. In reality, adding weight training into your exercise routine will make you healthier, stronger and leaner.
Don't worry! You won't start bulging out of your t-shirt like a bodybuilder. You just start small - think can of baked beans kind of weight.
What do you need to know before you start? Read on...
You're Not Going To Get Bulky And Heavy
The biggest fear all women have when looking into weight lifting is that they're going to get bulky, muscly and heavier.
The good news is it's pretty much impossible for women to 'accidentally' bulk up.
To gain muscle mass through heavy lifting, the body requires a lot of testosterone, which is why men can gain muscle much easier than women.
Women only have a tiny fraction of the testosterone that men do, so our bodies workout in a very different way.
You're much more likely to get bulky from heavy cardio, like biking or running
You're much more likely to get bulky legs from heavy cardio, like biking or running, than you are from weighted squats.
Lots of women do many reps of light weights, thinking that this will stop bulking and make them leaner.
However, heavy weights can make your body work harder than many cardio workouts, in a fraction of the time.
Stop being scared of muscles and pick up the heavy weights!
It's Good For You
So why is lifting heavy weights so good for us? How is different from spending 40 minutes biking or running around?
When we workout through cardio, we use more energy during our workout which is great.
However, when we stop and collapse at the end, because our body is awesome, it recovers pretty fast and goes back to normal.
When you strength train however, your muscles are broken down, and then rebuilt over the next 24 to 48 hours.
To rebuild those muscles, the body needs to use energy to keep the process going, meaning you body goes into 'afterburn'. This means your metabolism is still working, even when you're chilling out in your room.
Pretty awesome, eh?
You Don't Have To Eat Loads Of Carbs And Protein
Another myth surrounding weight lifting is that to make it worthwhile, you have to eat a whole load of carbs and protein.
What most people don't realise however, is there's a difference in how men and women burn energy.
Men burn carbs faster than women. Women can use fat for energy better than men. In short, we're totally different!
If you're feeling hungry after trying a weighted workout, don't worry about going for foods that rich in good fats. If you're craving them, it's for a good reason.
If It's Fun, Do It!
We say this a lot at Cooler, because we really mean it. Do whatever is the most fun, even if it's not the workout that makes you super fit fast.
We hate the idea of working out if we don't enjoy it. Our philosophy is exercise because you love moving your body and love your sport.
If you start weight training and find it's working for you, don't stop doing the other workouts you love.
You're far more likely to want to go to the gym and carry on with the weights if you still get to go running up hills every week or swimming every weekend.
Remember: have fun!
Fancy Giving It A Go?
When buying you're first dumbbells, don't feel you need to go too expensive, you can get them from most sports shops (and even some supermarkets!) for around £10.
Buying sets of three different weights is a good idea when your first figuring out your strength. Find one that ranges from between 8 to 12kgs.
Here is a simple 25 minute beginners program to try out next time you workout...
1) Warm up
Start by doing 5 to 10 minutes of cycling, jump roping,
jumping on the treadmill, whatever you choose!
Position your feet about hip-distance apart with your toes turned out slightly. Lower down until your hips are just above your knees with your tailbone extended back. Press back up, squeezing your glutes. Do two sets of eight to 12 repetitions.
Stand holding an 8 to 12-pound dumbbell in each hand.
Start with your feet hip-distance apart and knees bent. Lean forward from your hips keeping a flat back. Pull your shoulders back as you lift the weights up to chest height. Do two sets of eight to 12 repetitions.
Place your hands about shoulder-width apart on the floor. Drop your tailbone and keep your back flat. Bending your elbows back behind you, lead with your chest and lower down as far as you can. Do two sets of eight to 12 repetitions.
5) Biceps curls
Stand holding a 5 to 8-pound dumbbell in both hands, palms facing out. Roll your shoulders back and extend your arms 6 to 8 inches in front of you. Curl the dumbbells to your shoulders contracting your biceps. Fully extend your arms to straight. Do two sets of 10 to 15 repetitions.
6) Triceps extensions
Holding the same weights as with the biceps curls, lean forward from your hips with bent knees. Extend your arms straight behind you in one straight line, palms facing in. Bend from your elbows, keeping your upper arms still. Extend to straight, squeezing your triceps. Do two sets of 10 to 15 repetitions.
Start on your forearms and with your toes facing the floor. Lower your hips until your body is in one straight line. Breath your abs back by pulling your navel in. Hold for one minute.