Gone are the days when women were seen as the weaker sex. In today’s society, women have the rights, the power and the will to bring a change. That’s exactly what they’re doing. Whether it is the world of politics, a desk job or an athletic activity, women are taking part in everything and they are excelling in their respective fields. Now, the modern woman just has to take a look at a sporting activity and say “Veni, vidi, vici”.
Naturally, women have infiltrated and began to dominate a sporting activity that had been previously dominated by the male demography: Bodybuilding. It might be a fitness routine for some and a serious hobby for another, but women today are dominating the gyms more than ever. But for the one who had just started out, gyms might seem a little intimidating.
“Where should I start? What if I hurt myself? Will it work?” so many questions crawl through their head once they walk through that door. Well, miladies, fear not: Stuffoholics has got your back! We’re here to guide you through those doors, walk you up to that weight bench and let you unleash the girl-power hidden inside.
Know Your Equipment
In order to get comfortable around the gym, you first have to familiarize yourself with the gym equipment. You might notice the treadmills in one corner and the exercise bikes on the other and nod in satisfaction upon being able to recognize these equipment. That’s a great start. Get there and start easy, start slow. Weight lifting for female beginners shouldn’t even be considered until they’re confident enough that they can take it on.
However, if you are to go anywhere with your fitness routine, at one point or the other, you’re going to have to figure out the equipment and what they do. If you ask me, it’s better sooner than later. Let’s take a look at some of the most common gym equipment:
- Treadmills: We already have established that you know what a treadmill is. Just in case you don’t, it’s an equipment made to help you get a full body cardiovascular workout. They can be manual or automatic. They can be level or uphill (for some models, adjustable). Regardless of the type, the basic principle is that you get on it and you walk, jog, run or sprint.
- Exercise Bikes: These equipment simulate the activity of bicycling. They can come in different types that make use of different postures to give different muscle groups of your body some workout. There are the recumbent exercise bikes where you lie down on your back and pedal; The upright bikes: where you sit upright and pedal; or the spin bikes, where you go down and heavy and push yourself to the limit like a Tour de France athlete.
- Dumbbells: These are small, handheld weights that you can use to get various workouts. These might be the most basic of weight lifting equipment, one should never underestimate their importance and usefulness. These are meant to provide the best weight training for beginners.
- Barbells: These are the strong woman’s tools to show off her strength and power (and get that workout on her different muscle groups). It consists of a large bar, with two weights on both ends.
- Weight Benches: A weight training bench is a padded bench with a barbell placed on the end (and sometimes with leg preachers). The user has to lie down on the bench and use the barbell to get a good strength workout for her upper body, or can sit upright and use the leg preacher to get a good lower body workout.
- Vertical Chest Press: These are the machines with adjustable resistances that you can use to tone your laterals, shoulders, deltoids, and pectorals. You have to sit on one of them, adjust the resistance and grab the handles with both hands and pull them inside and release them back slowly.
- Exercise Balls: These are fun and comfortable, yet provide a variety of workout opportunities. You can use them for push ups, sit ups, leg lifts – you name it.
- Skipping Ropes: What you’ve been doing for fun as a child, tough men have been trying to master them at the gym. Show off your skills and laugh at their faces, as you use these things to get a great full body workout.
- Chin Up Bars: It’s just a couple of poles with a bar on top. You would need this to increase your upper body strength and specifically train your biceps and lateral muscles. All you will have to do is just get up there, grab onto the bar and pull yourself up. Not quite there yet? Don’t worry – one baby step at a time.
Weight Lifting for Female Beginners: Where to Begin?
You’re here to be strong and tough on the outside just the way you have always been inside. However, being strong and developing your body is not a binary process: it’s a continuous process. So, it’s understandable if you can’t lift a 300-pound barbell. It’s OK to take it slow. In fact, you SHOULD and you NEED to take it slow.
Let’s begin with a few rounds of light workout. A skipping session to get your heart beating faster. A quick jog on the treadmill to get the sweat rolling. And finally, a quick round of spin biking to get the adrenaline pumping. And now, you are ready to move on to the strength workouts.
Weight lifting for female beginners should not begin before a few days’ worth of free-hand exercises are under your belt. Usually, on your first day, you wouldn’t be allowed to use the heavier equipment and the weight benches. Stick to freehand exercises for a few more days. However, in order to familiarize yourself with the weights, you can at most head towards the dumbells.
On to the Weights
Once you have got to the weights, you have to remember something absolutely essential: Do NOT overexert yourself. As soon as you feel that your muscles are aching or your body is refusing to respond to that final rep: step back. Always listen to your body’s danger signals and you’ll be fine. When it comes to weights, a beginner often makes the mistake of biting off more than she could chew, injuring herself in the process.
With that in mind, let’s start off with the dumbells. When I began working out, I had found a simple way to choose the weight that I could handle: Just pick up the heaviest pair of dumbells that you can lift comfortably, and just stand there holding onto them. If you don’t lose your grip after standing there till you get tired, you’re good to go with this one. But if you don’t even feel any pressure on your brachii tendon (the part opposite to your elbows) after you’ve got tired of standing there, you probably can do better and should pick up something a little heavier.
Once you’ve found the right weights, you’re free to begin. Follow the instructions of a professional when working out to ensure that you get an even workout. Don’t listen to that friend who’s been working out for years, or that friend who got you your gym membership, or even the stranger next to you who seemingly knows everything. Only listen to your instructor. You might not be ready to take everything that a usual gym-goer can.
Since this has just been your first day at the gym, you will be asked to take it slow and you should. You won’t be allowed to (by your instructor) nor should you try to do a snatch and clean jerk. Stick to the cardios and dumbells for the first few days. If your instructor sees it fit to let you try out the weight benches, you can; but a professional trainer most likely wouldn’t allow you to get carried away with all those fancy equipment. Weight lifting for female beginners should be limited to dumbells if one wishes to go beyond the free-hand exercises.