January is the month of resolutions, and losing weight and getting fit are two of the most popular ones. But there are a thousand different ways to get fit, and choosing can leave people overwhelmed and ready to give up on day one.
I have asked several fitness experts to give you the need to know on their area of expertise. Today, I would like to introduce you to Jennifer of Wine to Weightlifting. I met Jennifer through our SweatPink ambassadorship and instantly took a shine to her.
Without further ado…
Jennifer - I was quite honored when Jacki asked me to answer some questions on her blog regarding weightlifting! I blog about my own passion for it at www.winetoweightlifting.com so I get a little giddy anytime I hear someone asking questions about women and lifting, or someone wanting to know more information either about myself or about the sport itself. For me, the barbell has been life-changing, and I hope to inspire and encourage other women to feel the same way that I do.
Me – How did you get involved in weight lifting?
Jennifer – I was never athletic growing up, unless you count playing softball in the third grade and cheerleading in 8th grade. In high school, I was on the school newspaper staff, twirled a flag for the marching band, and was active in all of the school plays and musicals. I have always been thin thanks to some great genes from my dad, so had the mentality that skinny people didn’t need to eat healthy and workout.
When I first started going to the gym consistently, it was for pretty much the sole purpose to hang out with my boyfriend. I was 28; not really the most adult-thing to do, but my mentality was much different back then. After we broke up, I wanted to do something for myself, so started training for a 5k. I thought it was something I would never be able to do, but I wanted to prove to myself that I could go outside of my comfort zone and push myself harder than I thought. So I did, and I ran the whole thing (and boyfriend was back in the picture..). Months later, he sent me an article from Nerd Fitness about Staci, the powerlifting superhero. While I took it was an insult that I needed an article to talk about girls working out, a couple months later it clicked that I wanted to get into weightlifting, and I wanted to be my own personal superhero.
I did much research online and landed on New Rules of Lifting for Women, which not only set up a lifting program for me, but it also educated me with all of the reasons why women need to lift, and how weight training really isn’t much different for men and women. The first time I picked up a barbell I felt awkward, scared, and uncomfortable. But it did not take long until the feeling of my hands wrapped around that barbell only brought one word to mind: empowered.
Me – What should a newbie expect during their first session?
Jennifer – If you are lifting alone, lifting with a trainer, or lifting as part of a group class, expect to be scared, intimidated, and confused! These are all perfectly normal feelings. I do not think that any woman immediately grabs a heavy dumbbell or barbell and just “gets” it! It takes time, practice, and patience.
It is best to start practicing the movements without any weight to get used to the motions, or use a PVC pipe, or even a broom handle to simulate a barbell until you can perfect your form. Once you are able to properly execute a lift, then you will want to start using weight. For most women, the amount of weight that you will want to use will actually be higher than what you expect that you can do! However, it is important to fully understand the lift prior to continuing to add weight in order to prevent any injuries.
Me – If someone is interested in taking up weightlifting as a regular practice what equipment, gear, etc is necessary and what would be their typical start up cost?
Jennifer – There are many different ways to start lifting:
1. Workout at home. At the most basic level, the startup costs can be next to nothing. Best case scenario would be to invest in a squat rack and an Olympic barbell set (hello, Craigslist!), but many movements can be done with just dumbbells, kettlebells, or pretty much anything you can find lying around the house, such as a milk jug! If you start to become serious about lifting, slowly start to add to your home gym collection. Set aside a “gym budget” and once the funds start accumulating, add pieces such as a barbell, additional weights, a pull-up bar, kettlebells of various weights.
2. Workout at a gym. The best part about a gym is that there is a myriad of equipment that you can use, but it can come at a price. Many gyms offer small monthly fees to use their equipment, but sometimes it is more convenient than adding equipment to your own home, plus you have an opportunity to be surrounded by other gym goers or personal trainers who may be able to help you if you are unsure how to do a movement.
3. Crossfit! My recent personal favorite option. Though this is probably the most pricey thing you will ever commit to, Crossfit provides a community approach to fitness and functional movements, but also has qualified coaches who can watch and instruct your movements to ensure proper form is used each time, as well as teaching the most efficient way to execute such movements.
Me – Who should (and who shouldn’t) take up weightlifting as a regular practice?
Jennifer – I think anyone and everyone will benefit from some form of weightlifting as a regular practice. Most movements can be scaled down to very light weights if needed due to injury, or weakness, but the benefit of forcing your muscles to lift more than themselves outweighs any risk of not even trying! (If you do have any medical concerns, please consult with your doctor first, just to be on the safe side!)
Me – What one thing do you wish someone had told you before you started practicing weightlifting?
Jennifer- First of all, I wish someone had told me to start doing it when I was much younger! But other than that, I think I was pretty educated prior to starting to lift, so I’m not really sure if anything could have been done any differently. I do recommend anyone that wants to start out to do some research to start dispelling the myths out there. You can find hundreds of women that have been lifting hard and heavy that will prove that women will not get bulky, and your muscle gains will ultimately lead to potential fat loss. While cardio workouts do have their place and burn calories in the moment, strength building improves the body’s efficiency and allows you to continue that fat burn even after the workouts are completed.
See why I love Jennifer? And you can probably see why I love lifting heavy stuff.
Jennifer mentions the misconception that women who lift heavy will get bulky and start looking like men. This is simply not true. Women do not consume enough calories, nor to they produce enough testosterone to bulk up like men.
What about those bodybuilding types? That takes lots and lots of calories, training, and likely hormone supplementation.
If you are not certain, check out the post Jennifer mentions above – Meet Staci: Your New Powerlifting Superhero.