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.