Thank goodness emaciated heroin chic went out with the 90s/ early 2000s. Now women all over the place are posting pics of themselves ripped, honed and toned. It’s become aspirational to look fit, strong and healthy. Hoorah!

But understandably, lifting weights can often be a baffling minefield to most women. Some because they wouldn’t even know how to begin getting a body like that and others because they think that if they lift weights, they will end up looking like a shot putter!

So what’s the real deal with lifting?

Firstly – in order to look like those bikini competitors and fitness models on Instagram, it takes unbelievable commitment and time. Think intense weight lifting regimes, a full on fat blasting cardio program, plus a nutrition plan that would make most of us run a mile. It’s VERY hard to build that level of muscle for women and they make it through hours of sheer hard work.

But FYI – don’t be disheartened – you can still get a lean, strong, sculpted body through training and eating well 80% of the time – like me ☺ (I could never give myself over to the kind of discipline it takes to compete, because I like my occasional wine and pizza too much!)

The next point is huge so listen up. You will NEVER get a toned, tight body without doing some resistance training…i.e lifting weights or at the very least body weight exercises. I know this because I was the girl in my twenties that just did cardio and was so disheartened that my body shape never changed – I just got lighter and thinner! I did not look shapely, tight or toned.

Now I know better, I do weights five times a week – targeting my upper and lower body. And guess what – I don’t think I look like a guy! It’s about education, trial and error and committing to a new way of training – without quitting when you don’t get results in the first 2 weeks. Don’t be like most of society and expect quick fixes. There aren’t any. It’s pure non-stoppable motivation that will get you the body of your dreams.

I’m fortunate that I now know how to create a shapely bottom without bulking up my quads. Same goes for my back – I know how to banish the fatty areas, without getting wider. I know the rep ranges and sets I should do – and how heavy to go depending on what I want to achieve. But I clearly didn’t always know this. I got help and advice. And then moved into the fitness profession in my mid thirties.



Comments from the last group of 4 Week Beach Body Babes!

“Been a hellish week of child illness and boiler eruptions so taken me awhile to log on. But despite knowing that I have been appalling on the food (and wine!) side of things I have lost 3kg which was about what I was hoping for. Better than that though I have lost 4cm on my waist, 3.5 on my calfs and 1 cm of my arms and thighs!! But best of all I feel much stronger. So I am going to keep going with all of this, keep attempting to sort out my food and if you decide to do another one of these put me on the list please!!!
Thanks for a great four weeks!!!x” Sara – March 2017

“I can see the difference in how I look particularly round my mid section and arms which are the two areas I wanted to work on. I feel so much better. I have more energy and have genuinely enjoyed getting up at stupid o’clock and working out in my garage!! I’ll definitely continue this in some shape or form! There also lots of foody things I’m not really missing so will try and continue with some of these new habits too.
So thank you Claire – it’s been great to have you all here for support and this little journey. Well done all! X” Zoe, March 2017

Training Goals: Size Vs Strength Vs Endurance

A really common question we get asked is what rep range is best to work at when you’re resistance training. There isn’t a black and white answer sadly. It truly depends on what your training goal is.

But here’s some rules of thumb:

Reducing your body fat percentage:
If you’re training to manage your body fat levels, as long as your combining your resistance training with some cardio and HIIT, it doesn’t matter so much. Lifting full stop in any rep range will help to condition the muscles. Whether that’s a timed circuits based body weight approach, a heavy/ low rep session a couple of times a week, or something in between, what counts is getting the body moving. Ensuring the muscles are under tension a least a couple of times a week will condition and shape your body and spike the metabolism.

If your goals are more strength or size specific then this is where rep ranges and sets are important. Generally speaking, to build maximum strength you should focus on lifting heavy weights over multiple sets in low rep ranges. A classic powerlifting routine (for strength) is the 5 x 5 – five sets of five reps at a weight where you’re hitting failure on the final rep of the final set.

Focus on the big compound moves (moves that involve multiple muscle groups) for strength and power – like the squat, deadlift, bench press and barbell row. Plenty of power lifters will focus just on those moves (adding the more advanced clean and press) focusing on low rep sets with big weights to increase strength. Of course, with proper nutrition, that’s also going to increase size. As you get stronger your muscles will get bigger. BUT if size is your goal rather than strength then you’re going to want to take a different approach…

Size (hypertrophy):
Training for size, or hypertrophy, will typically see gym go-ers working in the 8 to 12 rep range across 3 to 4 sets for each exercise. They’ll likely split training between body parts and hit each body part with 2 to 4 sets.

So a typical week might look like a full body Monday, Wednesday, Friday, or a lower body day, upper body day, rest day, lower body, upper body across 5 days. But the most important thing is to find what works for you. Get professional advice if it’s overwhelming and don’t be scared to try new training splits.

The critical bit though is to leave at least 48 hours between hitting the same muscle group again. What you wouldn’t want to do is hit back two days in a row. That’s because our muscles actually grow when we’re at rest. Post training the muscles repair and they grow back stronger and bigger – so if you hit the same muscle without adequate rest you’ll actually impede it’s growth.

Finally endurance training should focus on 15 reps of a maximum of 3 sets. Or you can do a timed circuit based workout, where you’re aiming to get as many reps as you can in a certain time.

Again, recovery time is key. Slot other forms of cardio or HIIT on the days when you’re not hitting weights.

Whatever your goal – proper nutrition is absolutely key, and a whole, much bigger story. But it’s safe to say that a good nutritious diet will improve performance, strength or growth by ensuring we receive all the macro and micro nutrients we need.

This is the kind of stuff we teach on our retreats and virtual training programmes, so if you fancy learning more, drop us a line.

One final thing – weight training (or resistance training) is not just for men. Claire lifts for strength and size four times a week. She will lift in the way I’ve mentioned for hypertrophy as she wants to create a lean, strong shape. It’s not going to bulk you and if you want to find out more – you can always join her virtual Beach Body program – launching in approx. two weeks. She provides a total breakdown of hints, tips and explanations of the whys and hows!