words by Fitness Expert and PT, Max Wilcocks
As a personal trainer I hear a lot of excuses as to why people don’t want to do certain exercises; “I would run, but I find it boring and don’t enjoy it” or “everyone in the office was eating them so I couldn’t help myself”. However, there is one thing that I hear a lot from my female clients that I can sympathise with: “I find the weights area of the gym scary, so tend not to go there”. This I completely understand, and thankfully, some gyms do too and so create female friendly areas. It’s not just that the weights area of the gym is full of tight-vest wearing, protein-shake drinking, bicep-curling gym types, it’s also a lack of knowledge of what it is that you’re meant to do when you venture into this often testosterone-fueled zone. And that’s not all, female clients also worry that they will end up looking like the hulk just by looking at the weights – not so! So this post serves a duel purpose. Firstly to try to encourage you girls to engage more with weight training and also to broaden women’s knowledge on what to do when you get there.
Here are some basic movements that you can really get to grips with and work into your gym routine at least once if not twice a week.
The Deadlift: This is the quintessential compound movement, which focuses on a strong core, lower back strength and some serious glute (bum) action. Done correctly your knees will always be behind your toes and the bar will travel up your shins, all the power will come through your heels and the bar stops just below your waist with your hips extended forward. Things to remember are to not let your lower back round off, push the power through your heels and don’t drop your shoulders into the movement.
The Squat: When most people talk about a squat they are referring to having a barbell rested over your shoulders behind your head. Again this requires a strong core, power through the heels, glutes of steel and a lot of control in your lower back to really allow your hips to drop low to the ground. It’s certainly also worth practicing a front squat, which transfers your centre of gravity and allows you to maintain a more upright position with your chest and back and it’s easier to keep your weight through your heels.
The Clean: This movement is a lot more technical than the previous two but fundamentally it is a combination of several different movements including the deadlift and the front squat. If you work through the clean sequentially it looks something like this- deadlift into shoulder shrug, into upright row, into a ‘catch’, into a front squat. Don’t let this put you off, the range of muscle groups involved means you’re maximising your time spend lifting and will engage your cardiovascular system when performed continuously at high intensity. Everyone should take the time to learn this movement, if that means speaking to a personal trainer or just YouTubing a good instruction video (and I know that we are creating one soon) and spending time with a very light barbell practicing.
Thruster: This is a fantastic movement that’s very dynamic and easy to master. Is it simply a front squat to a push press, rather than just engaging your larger glutes, quads and back muscles this movement begins to work your shoulders and once the weight is above your head you’ll have to really focus on your core to steady it.
So, lets put these exercises into a simple routine for you:
Deadlifts: 3 sets of 10 reps
Back squat: 2 sets of 10 reps
Front squat: 2 sets of 10 reps
Cleans: 5 sets of 6 reps
Thrusters: 3 sets of 10 reps
The best thing you can do is seek some guidance on how these are performed, even if that’s means popping into your local gym and just asking one of the trainers. If you want that perfect body, you have to be willing to train larger muscles groups and in a dynamic fashion.
If you have any questions – please don’t hesitate to visit and ask me on my facebook page: www.facebook.com/MaxWillcocksTrainer
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