In college, I had an (admittedly weak) comedic bit about how cardio machine hopping was my version of bar hopping. The 45 minutes I spent at the gym consisted of bouncing from the treadmill to the stairclimber to the elliptical with no real rules save for one exception: under no circumstances—never, ever, never—enter the weight room.
In retrospect, this unspoken boundary is a result of a belief that I didn’t deserve to be in the weight room. (I know—that sounds funny! But hear me out!) Strength equipment remains largely male-dominated. And while cardio machines are pretty intuitive, leg presses, power racks, and lat pull down machines are not. Many of them require trial-and-error, asking for help, and developing muscles memory over time. Back then, I didn’t feel confident enough to approach these machines with the curiosity they require.
Now, a fleet of Instagram fitfluencers has taught me how to dabble with heavy lifting—and quite frankly—I’ve never felt stronger. IG has made it easier than ever to stock your phone with free personal trainers and the Gym Shark-sponsored women are some of my favorite to follow. To name names, Natacha Oceane, Whitney Simmons, and Hanna Öberg have all transformed my idea of what a trip to the gym can look like.
To be clear, I’m not an expert with every machine just yet, but with the help of my virtual sidekicks, I’ve become a little bit more brave about sampling the equipment. Anyone who wants to stroll into the weight room to get their sweat on should do it. Here’s how to get started, according to my social media fitness heroes.
- Beginner weight lifting has never been easier with these 5 Instagram videos
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- Don’t Fall for These 5 Myths About Women and Weightlifting
- 82-Year-Old Weightlifting Woman Turns Tables on Home Invader – WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 –
- In A Pinch
- For A Weekly Strength Sesh
- On The Road
- The Daily Grind
- Pocket Personal Trainer
Beginner weight lifting has never been easier with these 5 Instagram videos
1. Lat pull down machine
This workout is all about arms, arms, arms—and once you’re done, you’ll feel like a lat pull pro (promise).
2. Leg Press Machine
The leg press machine is basically a horizontal squat… with weights. If you flip to the last slide, you’ll that Oceane’s recommendation is to work one leg at a time “just to finish off the legs and help with a little muscle gain,” she writes. She also gives the pro tip to move your foot a little bit higher up the plate to set your peach on fire.
3. Leg curl machine
On the last slide, you’ll find a quick demo of the leg curl. And just like that, the fog surrounding yet another piece of gym equipment lifts.
4. Cables and leg press
This hamstring-focused workout consists of only four moves, but when you check it off, you’ll be versed in cables and how to use the leg press machine for a slow burn.
5. Squat rack, lat pull down machine, and cables
Targeting the back and biceps, this workout teaches you how to use the squat rack… without adding all that weight onto your shoulders just yet. This way, you can dip your toes into machine without going all the way, then circle back to a different take on lat pulls and cables.
Now for a stretch: try these 4 do-anywhere options, or a few more that target your aching neck.
Don’t Fall for These 5 Myths About Women and Weightlifting
2. It’ll make you bulk up like an action figure. Don’t want your workouts to make you look like He-Man? Don’t worry. Weight lifting doesn’t necessarily lead to an action figure bod of rippling calves and Hulk-Smash arms… unless you seriously pursue that goal. “It’s very hard for women to get bulky when they lift weights,” says Straub. “Women don’t have the high testosterone levels that men do, which are needed to add muscle mass. Plus, the amount of weightlifting that needs to occur to build massive muscles is hours a day, every day, for many years.”
3. You’ll get hurt. We’ll grant that lifting something the size and heft of an anvil can potentially be dangerous. Haven’t we all seen the fail videos where something goes terribly wrong with weights? But when it comes to weight training, injury tends to happen because of improper form, not the weights themselves. “Any exercise can be dangerous if you don’t take the right precautions,” says Stephanie Blozy, M.S. of Exercise Science and owner of Fleet Feet athletic apparel in West Hartford, CT. “Like rock climbing or even Pilates, it’s best to learn the basics — especially form, since it’s paramount to staying safe — from a professional first.” If you’re looking to begin a weightlifting practice, start right with the supervision of a trainer so you can eventually lift safely on your own.
4. You’ll have to go protein-crazy. Don’t buy into the hype that once you start lifting, your body suddenly needs a macronutrient overhaul. Yes, weightlifting breaks down tissue in order to build muscle — and yes, protein is what builds this muscle — but according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND), “While athletes’ protein needs are greater than that of non-athletes, they’re not as high as commonly perceived.”
The AND, Dietitians of Canada, and American College of Sports Medicine all recommend a range of 1.2 to 2.0 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day for strength training, depending on intensity level. For a 150-pound woman, for example, this would mean a range of 82 to 136 grams of protein per day. High-protein whole foods like Greek yogurt, edamame, meat, seafood, and soybeans can easily help you reach daily protein goals through diet alone, without the addition of supplements.
5. You’ll have to do it all the time to see results. Like any other form of exercise, you do of course have to make strength training a habit for maximum benefit. Still, you may not need to hit the weights as often as you think to see results. “You don’t need to lift all the time!” says Straub, mentioning that two days a week is advised, but that other factors like diet and the design of your weightlifting program also have a major influence on the sculpting and toning of your physique.
Intriguingly, some research even indicates that just one day of lifting per week could yield results. A study of older adults in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that, as long as participants lifted “to muscular fatigue,” they improved their strength just as well with once-weekly strength training as with lifting twice a week. It may not be an excuse to go too easy with your workouts, but it’s certainly encouraging to know that even starting small can lead to significant gains.
Do you lift? Think you might start? Tweet us at @BritandCo.
(Photo via Getty)
82-Year-Old Weightlifting Woman Turns Tables on Home Invader – WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 –
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When you are new to strength training, the weight room can feel really intimidating. Whether you’re completely baffled about which weights to use for which exercises, or confused about how to contort your body to fit into a machine, there’s a lot of unknowns to figure out. As a certified personal trainer, I’ve noticed that for many women, those unknowns are enough to send them running right back to their favorite indoor cycling class and give up on lifting weights altogether.
Many women that I work with express that they feel this overwhelming sense of self-doubt and fear about weightlifting—that all eyes are on them or that they are not in good enough shape to work out among people who clearly frequent this area of the gym. This gymtimidation can be very real, but letting it get the best of you means you’ll miss out on all the benefits weightlifting has to offer.
Building muscle will not only make you stronger, but it also helps boost confidence and self-esteem as you see what your own body is capable of achieving. Shifting your focus from the weight on the scale to the weights you hold in your hands is empowering. Not to mention, strength training also keeps your bones strong, and research suggests it can have other health benefits like helping to reduce anxiety and improve heart health. You’d be doing yourself a real disservice by letting fear stop you from cashing in on all the benefits.
The best approach to weight lifting as a beginner is to start with a combination of functional exercises that mimic movements you use in everyday life and compound lifts, which are exercises that engage multiple large muscle groups at once. Most functional exercises fall within one of the following movement categories: squat, push, pull, hip hinge, and hip extension. Learning these movement patterns is key for establishing a foundation on which you can build more complex exercises. The exercises I’ve outlined below (and demo in this video on my Instagram) are great for beginners, because they get you moving according in these functional ways. Mastering them will help you get comfortable with lifting and prepare you to progress safely as you get stronger.
When you’re just starting, choose a weight you can lift 10 to 12 times for 2 to 3 sets. This is generally 5 to 15 pounds, depending on the muscle group (you will probably be able to use a heavier weight for your lower body versus upper). As a beginner, you will quickly outgrow these weights, and will know it’s time to move up when the last 2 to 3 repetitions feel easy to lift.
If you’ve never done bodyweight versions of the Goblet Squat, Romanian Deadlift, and Glute Bridge, start by mastering each movement first without weights. Using just your bodyweight will help you establish proper technique and form—reducing your risk of injury—before you add weights into the mix. I recommend practicing these movements two to three times within a week to feel comfortable enough to pick up a pair of dumbbells.
Here are six essential weightlifting moves that beginners should do:
We operate under the concept that if you are taking the time out of your busy schedule to do one of our workout videos, we are going to do our best to make sure that it is maximally effective and that you get rewarded for every second’s worth of effort that you put into your sweat session.
Why do just a regular squat when you could add in a ventral raise for the upper body, or a simple, traditional lunge when you could add in a torso twist to further challenge your core?
Looking at the combination of exercises below, you can probably tell that this routine is not only great for building functional strength & balance, it’s also great for burning calories. This workout for fat loss and increased strength is a great program and a relatively quick and efficient way to get stronger and leaner.
You are going to need a set of dumbbells for this routine. If you don’t have any dumbbells, you could also use a medicine ball, kettlebells, resistance bands, water bottles, or a set of small to medium kittens (though dumbbells are probably the best option for this combination of exercises).
Here’s what this routine looks like:
– 8 Exercises
– 3 Rounds
– 33 Minutes total
Printable Workout Routine:
14 Push Ups
14 Dead Lifts + Reverse Flys
10 Single Arm Pullovers + Opposite Leg Raises (repeat on each side)
14 Squats + Ventral Raises
14 Alternating Lunges +Row Kickbacks
14 Squat Crosses + Presses
14 Alternating Lunges + Torso Rotations
14 Crunches with Cross Punches
How many calories does this workout burn?
Because of all of the muscle groups engaged simultaneously, this one is a calorie torcher! We estimate that in the 33 minutes of this video, the vast majority of the population will expend 8-12 calories a minute. That’s roughly 264-396 total. Here’s the thing; you can easily step up the burn even more by grabbing weights that are heavy & challenging for you to lift. Just make sure that you don’t ever sacrifice form for a heavier weight.
How often should I do this routine?
It depends on the weight that you lift, what your goals are, and how sore you are after each workout.
Here’s a quick reference guide:
Lifting heavy & want quick results & gains? Do this 2-3 times weekly
Lifting lighter, or for toning and/or weight loss goals? 3-4x/week will do the trick.
With that said, make sure that you don’t do the same workout video over & over again. Mix up combinations of Fitness Blender videos for the best results.
We recommend that you do the workout routine along with this video, at least the first time through, just to be sure that you are familiar with all of the moves and that you have been exposed to the tips and pointers for proper form.
Forget the gym. All you need is a screen and some workout videos to get your strong on.
Runners know the importance of strength training, but honestly? Ain’t nobody got time for that. Trying to squeeze a weight-lifting session or fitness class into an already jam-packed schedule can be daunting, especially if it involves driving to a gym, checking in and waiting for a class to start or a machine to open up.
Luckily, a trip to the gym isn’t mandatory for a quality strength session. Thanks to an explosion of fitness video services, it’s possible to stream a workout class on-demand at home, while traveling, on your lunch break or even as intervals during your run. Most videos don’t require equipment and can be done in small spaces, making them an ideal way to work out anytime, anywhere—even when you swear you don’t have the time.
In A Pinch
The rise of fitness vloggers, or video bloggers, makes YouTube a quick and easy way to find a free workout video that meets your needs. Just search for what you desire, be it a killer core workout or a beginner-friendly Pilates session, and you’ll get a wide selection of options.
Our fave: Fitness Blender
There’s something for everyone on this super-popular YouTube channel, which counts more than 5 million subscribers to its free library of more than 550 workouts. The videos are simple, easy to understand and can be searched by length of workout (four minutes to more than an hour), difficulty, training type and muscles targeted.
For A Weekly Strength Sesh
The same service that guarantees you free two-day shipping is also your ticket to more than 1,000 workout videos at no extra charge. Amazon Prime members can access everything from HIIT to strength training on demand, making it easy to stream a core workout at the halfway point of your run (or between episodes of Marvelous Mrs. Maisel—we don’t judge).
Now playing: Yoga for Hikers, Bikers, Runners (and Walkers Too)
As a runner, yoga instructor and physical therapist, Jaimie Perkunas knows exactly where it hurts the day after a long run—and exactly how to make it feel better. In this 60-minute video, Perkunas targets tight hamstrings, hip flexors, quadriceps and calves through a series of stretching and strengthening poses.
On The Road
It’s easy to flake on a video workout when you’re traveling. ClassPass Live knows this and builds real-time accountability into each of its streaming classes. For $15 per month, members can tune in live to actual fitness classes taking place in New York City. The use of a heart rate monitor, which transmits data to a live leaderboard, allows participants to compete with other ClassPass users in real time as well as receive personalized encouragement from instructors.
We’re obsessed with: Torch
A full-body workout with a lower-body focus, Torch fires up your legs and glutes through a supercharged combo of strength, cardio and functional movement exercises. It’s way intense, and it hurts. So. Good. This 30-minute workout is the perfect way to fortify your muscles and bones for the rigors of running.
The Daily Grind
For $20 per month, DailyBurn members get access to a library of more than 1,000 workout videos. Users can sample from this library in à la carte fashion or select a structured series, where a new workout video is sent to your phone or streaming device every day.
Super Series: Pilates (Phase I)
Led by celebrity Pilates instructor Andrea Speir, this 16-day series provides detailed, easy-to-follow instructions to master the basic moves of Pilates. Pilates looks deceptively easy, but the tiny movements require a lot of core strength and balance, which are also key to injury prevention for runners.
Pocket Personal Trainer
This free iPhone and Android app does all the work for you—well, almost. Simply plug in what kind of workout you want (cardio, strength, yoga or stretching), target areas you want to hit (full body, major muscle groups or specific regions, like your glutes) and how much time you have to complete the session. Sworkit will build a customized workout video that meets your needs.
Top pick: Rump Roaster
This super-targeted series will build your backside (and your most powerful running muscles!) with 30-second intervals of squats, lunges, mountain climbers and more. Trainers demonstrate the correct form for each exercise, so you get maximum benefit and minimal injury risk. Your glutes will be sore after, so follow it up with the “Yoga for Runners” video to stretch and recover.