Last week I pretty much gave my full blown account of how I went from someone who couldn’t run for the bus to someone who runs for fun. I also briefly touched on how it’s helped me with my own struggles with anxiety and body issues. All in all real uplifting stuff right? I recommended a few bits and bobs on how to start including Couch to 5k and my favorite running app Zombies,Run. That said if you’re going to run (or hell do any exercise thing) I cannot emphasise how important it is to include strength training as part of your routine. SERIOUSLY GUYS.
There still seems to be these massive misconception about weights in the gym. The amount of women who I’ve spoke to who’re worried they are going to “bulk up” (seriously guys, you really think it’s as easy as lifting a few times a week) and ending up looking like Jodie Marsh (like that’s the worst thing in the world guys, c’mon now.) The thing is adding weights to your training is one of the best things you can do. It builds up your strength, balance and makes you far less prone to injury. I know it may not be the big calorie burner (can we all stop being terrified of these guys by the way?) but it is key to anyones fitness programme.
This is probably the weirdest one for me talk about as I think I’ve been in the actual ‘weights’ area of the gym once. I’ve never bothered with the machines because for the most part they aren’t great, but I’ve never quite felt I could broach on ‘Muscle Boy’ territory. Which by the by I know if one of the most fricking ridiculous things in the world. Still I knew how key it was for me to build up my strength so I started going to classes (as well as having some written in to my PT programme.)I don’t claim to be an expert by any stretch of the imagination but here’s what’s worked for me (littered with words of wisdom from my actual-qualified-to-talk-about-this PT sister.)
It’s been my gateway in to actually working with weights. I started Body Pump last year and I was utterly rubbish. Wee weights, wee reps and the reddest face you ever did see.Body Pump is all about working all over your body. Smaller weights than you’d use in the floor but going constant for about 4-5 mins for each body part (ie back,chest,triceps so on and so forth.) I was lucky enough to have a super encouraging trainer leading the class that changed it up every week and encouraged us to add weights on and push ourselves harder. At the end of the day if you stay doing the same weights over and over again you’re not going to get stronger. For me this was a great place to learn about form and technique in a class that had people working at all levels. It was also the class that made me see active changes in my body. My arms definitely made me look less like some weird chicken hybrid and I could actually feel myself getting stronger. I could work with heavier and heavier weights over time and I felt really proud of myself when I left the class feeling strong….and yeah a little bit sick. Utterly addictive. If there is a class near you I’d thoroughly recommend popping along to one. Start off light for your first class to figure out what you can work with. If it’s too easy – put up your weights. It’s a safe place to learn form and figure out what you are comfortable with (and learn a few different exercises while you’re at it.)
I’m pretty new to Kettle Bells but can already feel myself getting pretty addicted. A kettle bell is essentially a giant hulk of iron with a handle and can be used for a variety of exercises. It’s great for getting an all over body exercise and strengthening your core (basically stomach/back/general balance.) A good all rounder if you’re looking to build strength as well as build calories. Most gyms will offer some kind of Kettle Bell class 3-4 times a week however there are utterly loads of fantastic instructional.videos.out.there that are definitely worth checking out though this site is great if just looking for a list and some basic instructions on some great exercises to start you out.
Real talk. You don’t need to lift weights to do strength training. Body weight training is great for all levels, can be done anywhere and yeah – you need bugger all equipment. It’s basically using gravity and your own weight to build strength. Push ups, squats, lunges, flies and crunches – you can pretty much work your entire body with body weight exercises. Here technique is key. “10 perfectly done push ups are better than 100 shite ones.” If you’re still not confident about going to the gym these guys are perfect if looking for something to do at home. The best thing about this is that you can try different levels (there is at least 3 different ways you can perform a plank with varying levels of difficulty) and you can build up your abilities and increase your intensity as your fitness grows. Being able to do push ups without having to go on my knees (though I do have to drop eventually) still feels like a flat out miracle. If you’re looking for something to get started here is a fantastic wee list to get you started.
Also – super plus. Can totally blare your own tunes to this. I favor a Beyonce megamix myself.
Weight training has really changed the way I feel about my body. It’s helped me feel more (not totally, I’m still a long way to go) body positive. It’s definitely made me physically stronger and prevented me from getting a shit ton of injuries while out running. You really see the difference from weight training and you really do get what you put in. That could be anything from finding your runs easier, to being able to squat a weight you never thought possible to hell- even being able to complete a push up.
Obviously strength training is a major part of my training for Tough Mudder which is much closer than I’d like it to be! Tough Mudder is essentially a half marathon with hunners of obstacles. A real mix of physical and mental endurance.Think ice baths, walls to climb, electric wires, crawl tunnels – the whole whammy. It should definitely be an experience. Anyway I’m raising money for the Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH) who are just a really wonderful charity that do all sorts of good stuff to break down the stigma surrounding mental health as well as supporting those suffering fro it as well as their family and friends. If you can spare a cheeky wee pound it would be much appreciated.