Like many females, I began working out by only doing cardio. This past year I began lifting and am sooooo happy that I did so. I am so proud of how strong I am now and how much progress I have made both mentally and physically with regards to exercise. When I first began lifting I had no clue what I was doing and was searching all over the internet for different tips and advice. With that said, I thought it would be helpful to lay out some tips for you guys to begin your fitness journey!
- DO NOT BE AFRAID OF THE WEIGHT ROOM. I know when I first started lifting I was intimidated by all of the huge guys in the weight room. I didn’t want to look like a silly, lost girl who had no clue what she was doing. Do not be afraid!! Walk into the weight room with confidence because you are one of the few girls who actually ventures over there and that in itself is an accomplishment and something to be proud of. Honestly, those guys are so focused on their own workouts and getting big that they really are not paying much attention to what you are doing anyways. Trust me, there is no reason to be nervous.
- Make some goals. Do you want to lose fat? Gain muscle? Get stronger? It is important to figure out what your fitness goals are because this impacts the type of nutrition and workouts you will need.
- RESEARCH! Once you figure out what your goals are I would recommend doing some research on the internet to get an idea of the workouts you should be doing. I found bodybuilding.com to be really helpful when doing my own research. There are also tons of female body builders and bikini competitors on youtube that post different workouts.
- Lift heavy! You will not get bulky, I PROMISE! If you don’t believe me google any bikini competitor. You will get STRONG and lean, not bulky. You need to lift heavy to see changes in your body. As a guideline, for muscle growth it is ideal to lift weight heavy enough where you can do no less than 6 and no more than 12 reps per set of an exercise. If you can do more than 12 reps, then you are working muscular endurance and your muscles will not get larger (think of it as “running” for your muscles. Notice how runners tend to be very slim, that is because they are engaging in an endurance activity).
- Watch your form. Using proper form is critical when lifting heavy to avoid injuries. Again, youtube is a great way to learn how proper form for different exercises such as squats and deadlifts. I recommend beginning with a lower weight for exercises such as squats until you become comfortable with the form.
- Don’t forget to rest! Lifting makes tears in your muscles. These tears heal when you rest which leads to muscle growth. Therefore, it is important to let your muscles rest for at least 48 hours so that they can grow. You could either do a full body workout every other day or split up your workouts across different days. For example, I workout my legs on Tues and Thursday and train my upper body on MWF.
- Eat more protein. Adequate protein is a must for muscle growth. I would recommend buying whey protein for after exercise. I prefer whey over casein because it is absorbed more quickly which is great for after a workout. Casein is slow releasing and should be taken at the end of the day, for example, so that it can release over night to refuel your muscles.
- Eat more carbs. Yes you read that correctly. Do not fear carbs!!! Carbs are your body’s main source of fuel and are going to give you the energy you need for intense lifting sessions. Your muscles will not grow without adequate carbs and protein.
- Learn about macronutrients. Manipulating the percentage of calories you consume daily from fat, protein and carbs is important for reaching different fitness goals. For example, someone who is looking to gain muscle will have a completely different macronutrient distribution than someone who is trying to lose fat. I personally find it helpful to track my macronutrients using the myfitnesspal app. This is not necessary but I do think it is important to figure out a ballpark of how many grams of each you should be eating and try to make sure that your meals contain a good ratio of carbs to protein to fat.
Hope this was helpful! Feel free to comment with questions 🙂