Der­val O’Rourke

Irish Examiner - Weekend - - Inside - Der­val O’Rourke­ Pic­tures: Miki Bar­lok

This week I’d like to chat about weight train­ing, why I love it and the best ways to get started. For my recipe it’s my jog­ger’s beef stew plus a spe­cial Valen­tine’s Day steak for two.

Train­ing as a pro­fes­sional ath­lete meant I re­lied on a range of ex­er­cise tech­niques to keep my body strong and pow­er­ful to al­low me to run the fastest times. Since re­tir­ing, one of the ques­tions I get asked most of­ten is if ‘do you still run?’ The hon­est an­swer is that although I love to run, it’s the weights side of things that I’ve kept up more than any­thing. If I’m pinched for time and have to choose, weights win out.

Here are the rea­sons why I choose weights:

1) Strong bones: A lot of health and fit­ness goals tend to be aes­thetic and of­ten over­look our skele­ton. How­ever, os­teo­poro­sis is on the rise and the wor­ry­ing thing is is that it’s a ‘si­lent’ dis­ease and of­ten you don’t no­tice any­thing un­til it’s too late. Lift­ing weights can help im­prove your bone den­sity. When women hit the menopause, we are more at risk of os­teo­poro­sis than men so it’s re­ally im­por­tant to try and in­crease that bone den­sity.

2) In­creased mus­cle mass: When you do a weight-train­ing ses­sion you get your me­tab­o­lism boosted and fir­ing. You’re build­ing mus­cle mass and the more of this mus­cle mass you get, the more calo­ries you burn when you’re seden­tary. When you walk out the gym and you stop train­ing, your body’s still burn­ing calo­ries for the rest of the day.

3) Body Con­fi­dence: Weightlift­ing is an ef­fec­tive form of ex­er­cise that gives you the tools to sculpt your body and build curves in all the right places. I like to look strong and fit. Weights get me the best re­sults to achieve this. If it’s gains you are look­ing for then us­ing weights is key.

4) Ev­ery­day func­tion­al­ity: Hav­ing a strong body that can carry you through life is so im­por­tant. It al­lows you to carry your shop­ping to the car, run around the gar­den af­ter your kids and func­tion each day.

Strength train­ing will make you an all-round stronger, more func­tional, and health­ier per­son. I want to be able to move well through­out my life and weights are re­ally ben­e­fi­cial to that.

5) Supports other forms of train­ing: Weight train­ing builds a strong foun­da­tion and the strength you need to en­hance other train­ing. Most of the re­ally good run­ners I know are also re­ally good in the gym.

How to get started with weights:

1) Hire a per­sonal trainer: Com­mit to a bud­get for a pe­riod of time (say six-week ses­sions) and find some­one who can teach you how to lift prop­erly and guide you in a plan to do. In Cork, Gil­lian O’Sul­li­van is a per­sonal trainer I’d rec­om­mend and in Dublin, I like to go to the Edge gym in Clon­tarf.

2) En­rol in an on­line course: Make sure to check cre­den­tials and don’t be afraid to ask ques­tions be­fore sign­ing up. I’m al­ways wary of giv­ing rec­om­men­da­tions when I haven’t tested it my­self but I re­cently chat­ted to Siobhan O’Ha­gan who works in this area and felt her ad­vice was good.

3) Look for begin­ners’ weightlift­ing classes: These exist but you’ll need to do a Google search to find one close to you.

It’s a great way to gain con­fi­dence and meet po­ten­tial train­ing friends too.

4) Video your move­ments: I of­ten put my phone on selfie mode and record short videos of me lift­ing. This gives me in­stant feed­back on tech­nique. Fit­spi­ra­tion:

Siobhan O’Ha­gan Siobhan is a Maths grad­u­ate turned per­sonal trainer. She’s built a big fol­low­ing and has in­ter­est­ing in­sights.

She has a few dif­fer­ent on­line train­ing plans and they are very pop­u­lar. They are worth check­ing out.

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