Illustration: Jordan Moss

How to start lifting weights (and actually stick with it)

Don’t be intimidated by weight training: just get pumping with these five tips from a newly converted weightlifter

Isabelle Aron

1. Weightlifting is not just for hulking blokes

When I was a teenager, I used to go to the gym with my friend to ‘work out’ – by which I mean we’d try to flirt with the PTs. I thought of the weights room as the ‘men’s room’ because I never saw a woman go in there. It made me think that weights weren’t for women. But guess what? They absolutely are. Have you ever lugged your Christmas shopping back from the city centre on public transport? Congrats! You can lift weights.

2. Being able to lift heavy stuff is a vibe

I’ll be honest: my initial weight-lifting motivation was that I wanted to get ripped for my wedding, but it quickly became something more. Week by week, I pushed myself to lift heavier weights. I had to postpone getting married (thanks, 2020!) and I might not be ripped, but I still get a buzz from testing my limits.

3. Clueless? That’s okay

Something about lifting weights can feel intimidating. Maybe it’s because you don’t know how to use the equipment. Or because people in the weights area often do a lot of grunting. Don’t let that put you off. (The grunting is very much optional, trust me.) Obviously, you need to do things safely, so don’t just wing it – either master some moves with a PT or follow my lead and spend a lot of time on YouTube. You might also want to follow a PT on Instagram – try London-based Maiken Brustad for virtual inspiration.

4. A weightlifting routine might just keep you sane

When we went into lockdown in March and the gyms closed, I freaked out. I’d only just got into a good routine and now any strength I’d gained was going to wither away. Despite the Great Dumb-Bell Shortage, I managed to source some so that I could continue working out from home. On the many days when I didn’t want to get out of bed, having that routine was a huge help.

5. Don’t focus on the #gains

Some people lift weights to get a six-pack. I’m not saying I don’t want a six-pack, but for me, the benefits are more than that. I feel proud that my body can do the things that it can do – and that I am always getting stronger. Gaining strength is the ideal antidote to all the toxic messaging around losing weight. It’s about celebrating what your body can do – and that can only be a good thing.

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