The trend is hard to miss; scroll through your Instagram account and you'll notice that more and more women are hitting the pause button on their favorite cardio machine and lifting weights instead.
That's because lifting barbells can be the best thing that's ever happened to your exercise routine since barre. You'll not only boost your metabolism, burn more fat rest, tone your bod, but you'll also feel stronger -- mentally and physically -- than ever before.
However, if you're new to lifting weights, you'll probably have a lot of questions. That's why we asked Tone It Up trainers and founders, Karena Dawn and Katrina Scott, for their advice on strength training for newbies before you hit the weight room.
You Won't Get Bulky If You Don't Want To
If you're worried about bulking up, don't. Women don't have the same hormone profile as men, so it's difficult for women to gain as much muscle mass as men without a combination of heavy weight training and an excess in calories.
If you want to get strong without getting bulky, then Karena and Katrina recommend doing a drop set.
"A good rule of thumb that we follow is to perform a drop set," they tell us. "Start off with heavier weights during your moves, then drop down to a lower weight for the next set. This helps push your muscles a little harder while still being able to get all of your reps in."
Compared to a straight set -- in which you use the same amount of weight -- a drop set allows the lifter to continue an exercise set past fatigue by using lower weight or fewer reps, which activate the deepest muscle fibers, helping you to build muscle and improve muscle definition.
However, as Karena and Katrina note, if you want to get bulky, then that's totally up to you! There is no wrong or right way to get strong.
Your Weight Max Depends on Your Strength
"What you consider as 'heavy' or 'light' totally depends on your own strength," they tell us. "When you use heavier weights, you’re challenging your muscles more, which helps you gain strength. We mix up our weights depending on the moves. Heavier weights are great for leg workouts because your legs tend to have more power than your upper body. Lighter weights are perfect for fine toning your arms and upper body."
Though it's understood that you have to lift heavier weights in order to recruit more muscle fibers, and build muscles, a study by McMaster University found that working to fatigue with lighter weights gets you the same end result. However, if you want to be able to lift heavier weights, you have to start lifting heavy in your workouts.
Karena and Katrina note that there are certain moves, such as deadlifts, squats, and forward and lateral raises, that you should pay special attention to because they require heavier or lighter weights than you’d typically use. Typically, you'd lift heavier with deadlifts and squats, but everyone's body and strength is different.
If you're wondering how much you should lift, your best bet is to ask a personal trainer at your gym to make sure you're lifting the correct amount of weight.
Stronger = Leaner
If you're looking to lose weight, one of the biggest benefits of strength training is its ability to turn your body int a lean mean calorie-burning machine.
"A muscle requires energy – a.k.a calories – to maintain itself," Karena and Katrina tell us. "That means as you get stronger, even at rest your body is burning calories. Plus, as you train your muscles, your body gets more toned."
If you're looking for a toned tush or carved abs, then you'll definitely want to start lifting weights. However, Karena and Katrina point out that adding strength training to your workout routine doesn't mean you should skip out on the cardio entirely.
"Both cardio and strength training are key for getting the best results -- they work together," they said. "Cardio improves your cardiovascular health, reduces stress, burns fat, and helps give you a better night’s sleep. Strength training revs your metabolism, strengthens your bones, and tightens and tones your body."
Incorporate both into your next sweat session, and by being aware of your calorie deficit and portion control, you'll see more results than when you used to only run for hours on the treadmill.
By starting a strength training routine, you'll realize just how strong you are.
As Karena and Katrina said, "You’re stronger than you think. You’ll never regret going for that extra rep, trying that heavier weight, or running that extra mile, so don’t be afraid to amaze yourself!"
So walk into that weight room with confidence.
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