Are you all cardio-ed out? Running, cycling, and hitting the elliptical religiously can absolutely help you reach your goals, especially if you’re looking to lose weight. But, at some point, you’re going to hit a plateau, say experts. To get past this stagnation point in your fitness journey, you need strength training in your life. Whether you are a beginner in the world of fitness or someone with experience, strength training, when done, right, can be a strong stepping stone towards your health goals. But why is strength training vital, how does it benefit women and how to train the right way for maximum results?
TC46 connected with Pallavi Barman who is the Head of Marketing & Operations at HRX (actor Hrithik Roshan’s brand). Pallavi is a fitness enthusiast herself, and here she shares facts to bust myths about strength training in women, the need for it and detailed modules that help you stay true to your fitness goals.
Myth: Lifting Weights Will Bulk Up Our Bodies
I love busting this one particularly because contrary to the popular effect, most women believe that lifting actually makes them look bulky and beefy whereas the reality is that weight training makes one leaner as it adds to the lean muscles mass in the body and burns fat, rendering the form smaller and making those womanly curves more prominent.
Well of course every training form must be matched with the right nutrition for the right output clearly. Now if one adheres to high-calorie meals then those calories will pile up into fat and show the bulk on a weight trained body. Hence having a consistent calorie deficit is always beneficial if one’s goal is to acquire the leaner look.
Benefits Of Strength Training
Strength training thus is great for women as it enhances the muscle tone and by adding lean muscle and cutting the fat improves metabolism too. Three most important benefits of strength training for women I feel are:
- Improves lean muscle mass, helps in fat burn and improves metabolism
- Helps in avoiding osteoporosis
- Adds to the strength without adding any bulk
With the improved metabolism, if good nutrition practices are adapted to create a sustainable calorie deficit, weight loss is easy to achieve within 6-8 weeks of starting out on strength training and weight lifting.
Chalking Out Your Workout
On an average, weight training can be undertaken three times a week for a good 45 minutes session each And please bear in mind that working on compound movements always unfolds more advantages than working on single muscle groups. Compound movements work the entire body at a time so for me, these are always the preferred choice. As far as deciding how much to lift and how many reps, the bottom line is to feel sufficiently challenged and fatigued. If 5 kg seems smooth and easy, push your way to 7.5 kg in the next rep, 10 kg thereafter and so on and so forth. This gradual scaling up should continue till you reach the optimum you can lift while
- Maintaining the correct form
- Avoiding jerky movements thereby minimising the scope of injury
- Keeping the core engaged for greater impact
- Breathe. Maintain the rhythm and follow the rule – when moving against the gravity, breathe out and when moving towards gravity, breathe in that’s when you lift, breathe out and when you drop weights breathe in
This kind of scaled-up workout also builds muscle endurance over a period of time thereby adding to body strength.
Doing Strength Training The Right Way
Coming to the commonest question now – how much should women lift? Or how heavy can we do in successive reps?
Heavy and light weights are relative terms. For me, heavyweights are the ones where I can’t go beyond 8-10 reps smoothly. Weight training certainly helps in chiselling and losing fat but heavyweights which require power and a lot of exertion on muscles usually end up in a fuller and heavier bodily look. To reiterate when we go the heavyweights and fewer reps way, we make the muscles work harder and exert more power whereas when we use lighter weights and more reps the body tends to acquire a leaner form with a toned look. The latter in my knowledge is more desirable – be it the ramp or the runway.
One of the preferred routines for me is the HRX module which is based on Zero Momentum Reps. It advocates exactly the same philosophy of working on a muscle group with lighter weights but far more reps and at ease. No rushing through the workout but working on form and consistency of movement for fluidity- believe the results are stupendous. We have seen bodies chiselling up with ZMR – the most astonishing of those being Hrithik’s himself.
Balancing Your Sets & Reps
When it comes to sets and reps and where to stop, gym-goers believe in executing anything between 2 to 6 sets of each weighted exercise because the science behind this says that’s anything less than 2 is simply conditioning and not challenging enough for the muscles and anything more than 6 may cause overworked muscles. So beginners and injury-prone individuals (like me) must start small and light with more reps, eventually graduating to heavyweights as the strength builds up and form doesn’t get compromised.
And individuals who are looking to bulk up can shoot for heavyweights and fewer reps. As far as repetitions are concerned, 12-15 is the standard for most exercises.
Compound Movements Strength Training
As stated earlier, I always prefer compound movements over single muscle work. Some of my favourite ones are listed below.
- Renegade row
- Push press
- Weighted squats
- Weighted lunges
These movements impact the entire body and keep the core engaged giving you a natural ab workout without having focused on one individual. By the way, while mentioning abs let me also mention that if one is looking to bust belly fat, weight lifting/strength training is the ideal way to go about it because it directly attacks fat and adds muscle. Cardio may not supplement the belly zone goals because it causes fat loss along with muscles.
Fitness: A Gradual Journey
At the cost of repeating myself, please start off a fitness journey with a goal in mind and the rest of it falls in place. Sharing my fitness goals for many to use as a blueprint and define your expectations.
F: Fabulous – look and feel fabulous with the energy I get from training
I: Imbibe a sense of discipline in life so I can enjoy food guilt-free
T: Target to keep the biological age lower than real so lifestyle disorders and other risks are mitigated
In short, I want to be FIT for being Superhit in life.
At-Home Weight Training Routine For Women
Here is a routine for you to try at home.
Work out: 45 minutes to 60 minutes
Advisable weight: 5, 7.5, 10 (gradual scaling up with each set)
For Beginners: module 1 and 2
- 3 sets
- 40 plank position shoulder taps
- 30 glute bridges
- 20 leg raises (legs don’t touch the ground at 15 degrees and up to 45 degrees)
- 10 push up to side plank
3 sets – if you have weights use them or take 2 filled 1-litre bottle
- 20 kettlebell swings
- 20 lift and push press
- 20 weighted lunges (hold two bottles in either hand)
- 20 lateral raises
- 20 reverse crunch plus twist with one bottle
- 2 sets
- 20 downward dog crunches
- 20 side plank rotation- 10 on each side
- 20 plank jacks
- 20 Spider-Man planks
Ladies, don’t shy away from lifting those weights. That sassy form and booty and coffee table flat abs aren’t just a dream anymore. Remember, the more you lift the firmer and stronger you get!