Friday, 5 May 2017

Why every woman should strength train

It’s pretty obvious that I am a firm believer in strength training, especially for women. ESPECIALLY for mothers or anyone planning on entering that world in the next few years.

My background is actually in ballet growing up, then in my 20s I started teaching group fitness classes and absolutely loved it.

ALL OF THE CARDIO!

This period in my life absolutely served a purpose as it helped me to establish a love for exercise on a regular basis and more importantly, allowed me to help other people discover a love for exercise. It also got me through the darkest of times when my babies were little.

Fast forward to my early 30s and my body started to change. I started to experience back and neck pain, floppy bits started appearing and no matter how many classes I taught, these only seemed to get worse.

Introducing quality strength training into my world has had a massive impact on my life. I still experience injuries from time to time, however the strength in my body allows me to recover quicker. My posture is far better and my hair, skin and nails are healthy and strong.

More importantly, I am strong. I have arms, shoulders and a strong back that allow me to carry a lot, both physically and emotionally. They allow me to take care of children with physical confidence, despite my small size. They allow me to play actively with them, which is incredibly important to me.

Why does a woman need to be strong?

Let’s just consider the daily movement pattern of a mother.
·      Breastfeeding – being able to sit and hold your baby for an extended period in a somewhat awkward position.
·      Rocking your baby back and forth, up and down, round and round.
·      Attempting to do housework with a baby either in one arm or in a baby carrier because they just won’t settle and the housework will not go away.
·      Pushing a pram that potentially weighs around 10+kg along with a baby and a kid in the pram (I once weighed my pram at over 30kg).
·      Picking things up, putting them down, over and over again.
·      Your child is sick or falls down, they weigh over 20kg and all they want is for you to pick them up and hold them for a really long time.
·      Walking through the shops and your child’s legs decide to pack it in and you are faced with carrying your handbag, two bags of groceries and your 20kg child on your hip

Beyond being a mother, what about just generally having to face life with extreme levels of fatigue? Think about how your posture suffers. I have vivid memories of rocking my youngest, Sam, for hours on end through the darkness of the night. I am so grateful that my body was strong enough to handle this.

As a mum living on my own with my two kids I faced additional hurdles I had never considered. Little incidental activities that needed to be dealt with like:
·      Moving furniture.
·      Mowing my lawn on a steep hill (or generally mowing it full stop).
·      Being the electrician, the handyman and the landscaper.

The list is endless. Having some semblance of physical strength makes the day-to-day tasks seem less overwhelming.


Finally, what about the psychological benefits of feeling strong?
For me, this is priceless. It isn’t about looking skinny, lean or any of those things. Those days are passed and I am proud to say that at RHQ this is something we really discourage.

Especially for our younger women.

One of my clients training with her daughter.
The ultimate role model.
Inspire your children to be the healthiest version of themselves.
They deserve it.


I simply want to look and feel strong and healthy. It allows me to feel confident, even when life as a mother is becoming quite overwhelming. I can walk into a training session feeling really flat or overwhelmed and walk out feeling like I can tackle whatever is going on.

Strength training for me has been about regaining my confidence as a woman. My confidence took an absolute battering when my kids were born. Improving my physical strength has directly impacted my emotional resilience in a positive way, which I know I am then able to pass onto my children, especially my daughter.

I want my children to grow up knowing that they are strong enough, both physically and emotionally, to tackle any challenges the world has to throw at them. Our kids learn from us; there is an overwhelming amount of pressure placed upon us when our kids are born. I know that I am having a positive impact on the way they approach their world by consistently being the best version of me. Even when I don’t feel like it.

Mobility prior to squatting is super
important and will directly affect the
quality of the squat along with the
subsequent recovery.


And finally, from a purely selfish point of view, when my 40th rolls around next year I plan on attacking that birthday looking and feeling healthier and stronger than I was for my 20th or my 30th. Because after all, life begins when you hit 40, right?!







I spoke to a couple of our physiotherapists at AllSports Physio, The Gap. They threw loads of reasons at me as to why strength training and solid mobility training are important for all men and women. But one statement really stood out for me. I recently discovered that hormonal changes can significantly affect out bodies at different stages of our lives, but the affect of this can be dramatically reduced with strength training.

Emily Hodkinson from All Sports Physio, The Gap, said, “Strengthening or muscle pull on body attachments stimulates bone growth and can prevent osteoporosis. We also know that women going through menopause are at a higher risk of injury. Oestrogen has a protective role on joints and ligaments so strengthening helps to act as a shock absorber and protect those structures at risk.”

Seems legit.


So I took this question to my Mums Who Lift community: Ladies, why is strength training important to you?

Here are some of my favourites…straight from the RHQ ladies

Without lifting I'd be in pain, physical and mental, with a prognosis of ongoing misery. Lifting has made me functional.”

“Because it builds muscle which in turn makes my whole body feel stronger which in turn makes functioning on a day to day basis a hell of a lot less painful and easier than it used to be. I want to be mobile as I grow older and not stuck on a zimmer frame missing out on life”

“Because it make me feel powerful and gives me roar!!!”

“Increase metabolism, increase bone density, grow some muscle, loose some weight, to show my kids that I can still do "stuff" even though I'm injured! And I love the challenge of strength training!

Because when you have to deal with some heavy shit, you should be able to lift some heavy shit.

Makes me feel better about myself, you can set goals as you go, there's no end to the combination of sets you can come up with and you get to chat to all the great people at the gym! Definitely helps me mentally too.

Because I'm unlikely to look like my 20, 17 or 14 year old daughters again but I can feel strong no matter how old I am or what I look like.


So in summary…lift weights ladies!

And for the men reading this: substitute woman for man, skip over the breastfeeding part and insert with ‘holding your baby for extended periods of time so your partner can rest’. Finally, substitute handbag for man bag and you’ve got yourself a fairly convincing argument to hit the gym.



Mums who lift RHQ is such a special community of women
who truly understand the benefits of strength training and
support each other in their desire to live a strong and healthy life.

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