Let's get the obvious out of the way and say that even the thought of strength training is intimidating if you've never picked up a pair of weights before. We've all been there — yep, even your favorite trainers and celebrities who are fit AF have been in the same exact position as you. So we talked to Ridge Davis, personal trainer in West Hollywood, CA, and Jericho McMatthews, Beachbody Super Trainer, to get some insider tips on how to get started.
Why Should Women Strength Train?
"Besides feeling like Wonder Woman, weightlifting is great for building a figure without restricting what you eat," Ridge told POPSUGAR. "All weight training fires up your metabolism, allowing our body to burn more calories at rest. And besides feeling stronger and sexier, weightlifting is proven to reduce your stress levels and enhance your sleep."
As you can see, there are multiple benefits that come from weightlifting, and Jericho also says it's a great way to boost your self-esteem and feel more powerful all around. "Health and fitness isn't all about losing weight or looking smaller," she shared. "It's about being the best version of yourself."
What Kind of Strength Training Should I Do?
There are all kinds of exercises and workouts you can do when it comes to weightlifting. It doesn't have to be exactly what you see other people doing in the gym. "I would say a good place is dumbbells because they're easy to hold," Jericho recommended. "There are very simple moves like bicep curls, triceps kickbacks, squats, lunges, and overhead presses and combination moves where you can put moves together."
You can also mix in plenty of bodyweight movements, like push-ups. The possibilities are endless, so you'll never get bored.
How Often Should I Strength Train?
Ah, the million-dollar question. Everyone wants to know how often you should lift weights in order to shed fat, get lean, and tone up. "I suggest my female clients strength train a minimum of three times per week," Ridge said. "[This] is the absolute minimum one should allot themselves in order to maintain a tight and strong figure."
Jericho agreed, "Two to three days a week would be great, maybe two for people that are just getting started. Make sure you're getting a day or two in between sessions." In other words, don't lift weights Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday and be done with it. Spread out your sessions through the week so you can give your body the chance to recover before you put it to work again. "During the rest is when your muscles get strong and lean," Ridge confirmed. "If you skip your rest, your body will not perform at its highest capacity and will compromise your results."
What Should My Weekly Schedule Be?
Ridge laid out an easy beginner plan for you, including both cardio and weightlifting.
- Monday: Lower body (Ridge recommends focusing on squats)
- Tuesday: HIIT cardio and 20 minutes of abs
- Wednesday: Back and arms
- Thursday: Lower body (he suggests focusing on deadlifts)
- Friday: HIIT cardio and 20 minutes of abs
- Saturday: Rest ("light activity like hike, swim, beach jog, one-mile walk")
- Sunday: Rest
Should My Diet Change?
In short, yes. "I suggest including 15-20 grams of protein to each meal when beginning a strength-training program," Ridge said. "Also, incorporating low-glycemic carbs before 12 p.m. fuels your body with energy to burn fat and build muscle." Don't forget about carbs! "Energy-rich carbs are essential in order to build a strong body that will last," Ridge reminded us. So reach for complex carbs like sweet potatoes and brown rice, and just wait and see how much more energy you have to burn at the gym.
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