How to Get Started with Strength Training
Strength training can sound intimidating or feel overwhelming, especially at the beginning of your journey.
- What muscles am I targeting?
- Am I going to bulk up a ton?
- How is this even benefitting me?
When starting a new program, we may feel a bit out of our comfort zone, but if we don’t try or push ourselves, we can also miss out on all the benefits strength training can offer us!
As a certified personal trainer and the founder of the Emily Skye FIT app, I’ve been encouraging women to pick up weights for years.
You probably know that lifting weights makes you stronger, but the benefits don’t stop there.
Regular strength training will burn fat, increase stamina, improve heart health, help you to avoid injury (because stronger muscles protect your joints and bones) and build a sculpted body. As a mother of two kids that are always on the go, I like to spend my time doing a workout that makes me feel better physically and mentally. Strength training ticks both of those boxes!
To make your journey to lifting weights (and loving it) seem a little less scary, I’ve put together a guide on what to expect after you start strength training.
5 Benefits to Look Forward to When You Start Strength Training
1. Newbie gains!
If you’re brand new to training with weights, you’re likely to see serious strength and definition gains quickly – even within the first few weeks. These ‘gains’ in lean muscle are caused by your body adapting to a totally new way of moving.
2. Strength training can transform your shape quite quickly, particularly if your diet is on point.
You may earn a more filled-out booty, a flatter and more defined stomach, improved leg and shoulder definition, and a whole lot more. If you don’t see physical changes early on, don’t despair! Everybody is different – focus on the way strength training makes you feel, not the way it makes you look.
3. You’ll move with more ease!
Within a few weeks, you’ll likely notice that some everyday movements feel easier – e.g. carrying shopping bags, picking up a toddler – and your endurance has improved.
4. Some people experience an easing of chronic pain as supporting muscles get stronger.
For example, lower back pain may be eased by stronger glutes and core, while knee pain can be reduced when your glutes, hip and leg muscles are strengthened.
5. Don’t forget the mental benefits!
It’s not just the ‘me time’ that a workout gives you – many women talk about how confident and strong resistance training makes them feel.
4 Strength Training Challenges
I’m not saying it’s all easy, but the results you get from pushing through will be worth it! Prepare for the following challenges for greatest success.
1. You might experience some DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness).
Yes, you’ll likely experience some DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) in the beginning. But don’t worry, this will lessen as your body adjusts.
2. If you’re not used to holding weights, you may have sore hands or calluses when you get started.
If this worries you, look for special workout gloves in your local sports store or online.
3. You may not have full mobility when you start, which can lead to some soreness.
It’s important not to push yourself into uncomfortable positions – only go to a comfortable depth on exercises (such as squats) and use the modifications where necessary to avoid injury.
4. Strength training makes some people not just hungry, but ravenous!
Make sure you’re getting your pre- and post-workout snacks and making nutritious, balanced meals to avoid overeating. My FIT app has you covered here, with meal plans and recipes approved by an advanced sports dietitian.
Why Strength Training Works
3 myths about strength training
Here’s what WON’T happen just because you start lifting weights.
1. You won’t get bulky.
There’s nothing wrong with the visible ‘bulky’ muscle mass that bodybuilders rock, but building that kind of muscle takes concerted, focused effort – especially for women. You won’t get those kind of results from my FIT app.
2. You won’t mess up your fat loss goals.
While cardio might burn more calories in a 20-minute session than lifting weights, building muscle will boost your metabolism, help you burn fat more efficiently, and help you to maintain lean muscle (AKA definition). In fact, research has shown that the muscles of someone who regularly lifts weights can burn up to 50% more calories than the muscles of a regular runner or walker! So if losing fat is your goal, strength training is for you.
3. It’s not just for guys.
The myth that strength training is a male-only pursuit couldn’t be further from the truth! The list of benefits of strength training for women is very long, especially as we get older. One of the biggest reasons to lift weights is for your bone density – weight-bearing exercise can reduce the risk of osteoporosis.
Try this pre-workout breakfast smoothie
You’re definitely going to need some fuel in your body to ensure you have enough energy to get the most out of your workout. Below is one of my favorite breakfast smoothies to drink before a morning training session.
Lemon Turmeric Smoothie
Ingredients (1 serving)
1/2 cup (4 1/2 oz) Greek yogurt (or dairy-free alternative)
1/2 cup (4 fl oz) water
2 tbs vanilla protein powder (or natural protein powder)
1 tbs rolled oats (or brown rice flakes or quinoa flakes if gluten free)
1/2 lemon juiced
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
4-6 ice cubes
Blend all ingredients on high until smooth and creamy and serve immediately.
Learn More at Emily Skye FIT
Emily Skye is a mother of two, strength training expert and the face of FIT, the digital fitness app that helps women worldwide build strength and confidence, stay active through pregnancy and rebuild post-pregnancy. Emily holds a Certificate IV in Fitness and Master Trainer qualification from the Australian Institute of Fitness.