Girls Guide to Weightlifting

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Written By

Lauryn

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Expert Reviewed By

Dr. Lauryn Lax, OTD, MS

Dr. Lauryn, OTD, MS is a doctor of occupational therapy, clinical nutritionists and functional medicine expert with 25 years of clinical and personal experience in healing from complex chronic health issues and helping others do the same.

Index 2 1 | Girls Guide To Weightlifting

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Girls Guide to Weight Training

“I don’t really know what to do in the gym,” #saidMostWomen.

When it comes to the “other side” away from the treadmills and ellipticals in cardio land (the weight room), many of us get “stumped” about what to do with those 20 lb. dumbbell things or barbells.

Even machines can be kinda tricky. “Am I doing this right?”—you’re not the only one who’s asked that before (guaranteed).

The answer: Just avoid it. At all cost.

Group fitness classes. Bootcamps. Orange Theory. Ellipticals. StairMasters. Treadmills. Outdoor running. Yoga.

These things we can do now.

Just tell us what to do. Or, just push the start button, and take it away!

I get it.

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Prior to my first “taste” of strength training with an actual physical trainer, I was intimidated by the “other side.”

However, one week in to a whole new  way of working out (and feeling the burn of new muscles being worked) totally opened my eyes a “whole new way” of doing things.

Couple this with a newfound strength, boosted confidence, better sleep and decreased stress levels (no longer running myself ragged with chronic cardio), and I became a whole new (happier, more at peace) person.

Strength Training 101

You know strength training is good for you.

  • It boosts bone health.
  • Revs your metabolism.
  • Builds and shapes lean muscle.
  • Makes you stronger.

So why are you not doing it?

Just like you know drinking more water is good for you, eating more greens is good for you or taking a probiotic is good for you—there’s not always a “good reason” as to why.

True, some women do fear the weights—scared that weight training will make them “bulky”—correlating dumbbells with the ‘pictures’ of Bodybuilders or CrossFit women; Women who are athletes, training for that sport in mind. However, get this: “those girls” are the 1% of the population, born with the right genetics, to be doing that sport. There’s no way the average woman has the ability to look that way just lifting as a part of her routine.

And of course nutrition and stress are 80% of results anyways. Nothing crazy. Simple, simple.Eat real foods. Drink water. And, if you are stressing—even stressing out about what to eat or the perfect workout—is not doing your body any good. It’s throwing off that cortisol balance and we all know what that does (weight gain, plateaus, poor digestion, etc.).

All things considered, if you’ve never fully given strength training a go…why not start something new today!?

Here’s the Girls Guide to Weight Training 1.0—Today we’re going over a basic overview of 8 basic moves to master in the gym (next week, we’ll talk about how to mash up your workouts and what moves to do together):

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Squat (Legs, Core)

What You Need

Barbell & Squat Rack

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How to Do It

Starting Position:

  1. Step underneath the barbell to place it on your upper back, with hands out to the sides by your shoulders, elbows down.
  2. Stand up nice and tall. Chest up.
  3. Feet a little outside your shoulders
  4. Head Facing Forward

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Movement

  1. Keeping your chest up and tail bone tucked, shoot your butt straight down to the ground.
  1. Knees go out and butt drops between your hips (optimally: below parallel—we call this “ass to grass”).
  1. As you come up, make sure you keep your tail bone tucked still.
  1. Rise up with your chest straight up still and head looking forward.
  1. Complete 5 to 10 reps.

Don’t add weight if you are unable to keep good form.

P.S.

“Won’t it will hurt my knees if I go all the way below parallel?” you ask.

Unless you have had a previous knee replacement or injury pre-disposing you to “bad knees” already, NOT squatting “all the way down” will actually be harder on your knees—as the knees take more of a hit from half-executed form.

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Strict Press

What You Need

Dumbbells or Barbell

 

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How to Do It

Starting Position:

  1. Step up to the barbell and un-rack it, with hand slightly outside your shoulders, bar at collar bone, elbows facing slightly up and forward (with dumbbells, bring them to shoulders)your shoulders, elbows down.
  2. Stand up nice and tall. Chest up.
  3. Feet a little outside your shoulders
  4. Head facing forward.
  5. Slight bend in your knees.
  6. Core strong and tailbone tucked.

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Movement

  1. Keeping your chest up and tail bone tucked, press the bar or dumbbells up straight to ceiling

(You want to push it up so close to your face, that you actually need to move your head and nose back out of the way)

  1. Keep knees slightly bent, tailbone tucked, and core strong.
  1. Extend elbows almost fully (don’t have to completely lock out), then bring bar/dumbbells back to shoulders.
  1. Complete 5 to 10 reps.

Don’t add weight if you are unable to keep good form.

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Pull-Up (or Chin Over the Bar Holds) (Bicep, Back)

What You Need

Pullup Rig or Ring Rows

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How to Do It

Starting Position:

  1. Jump up to the bar, hands outside your shoulders, palms gripping the bar in the pronated position (overhand), hanging straight
  2. Keep body nice and straight, tail tucked, core strong
  3. Point your toes
  4. Head facing forward.

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Movement

  1. Engage your lat muscles (outer upper back muscles), squeeze your glute-muscles and brace your core
  1. Recruiting your muscles from your back and biceps, pull your head and chin (looking slightly up) towards the bar
  1. One rep counts when your chin reaches over the bar
  1. Keep toes pointed, glute-muscles squeezed and core strong
  1. Lower back—all the way down—to the starting position (elbows straight)

Do one rep at a time if you need.

Hint: Chin ups, with hands in underhand grip position are slightly easier, recruiting more bicep

If pull-ups are challenging, add assistance band or complete 15-60 second “chin over the bar” holds—holding your body up in the top position. You can also intensify this by slowly lowering (a negative rep) back to the ground over the course of 10-30 seconds.

1 hold + 1 negative = 1 hard rep!

Modification: Ring Rows:

Keep body in supine plank position, slightly leaning back, legs straight and together, butt squeezed and core strong (the closer your feet to the wall, the harder the rep).

Pull chest to your rings.

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Bench Press (Chest, Triceps)

What You Need

Bench + Barbell or Dumbbells

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How to Do It

Starting Position:

  1. Lie flat on your back on the bench, feet on the floor
  2. Core strong and glute-muscles engaged
  3. Grip barbell with hands slightly outside your shoulders

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Movement

  1. Unrack barbell and extend arms all the way up
  1. Lower barbell all the way down to your chest
  1. Keep elbows CLOSE to your body—shooting straight down—and keep feet and body completely flat and down
  1. One rep counts when bar touches your sternum of your chest
  1. Extend your arms—all the way up—to the starting position (without letting your elbows flare out—still keep them close to your body).
  1. Repeat

Modification: Use dumbbells in same motion—bringing them all the way down to your chest

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Deadlift (Butt, Core, Hamstrings)

What You Need

Barbell (MAYBE weights)—let’s start with barbell

Or Dumbbells

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How to Do It

Starting Position:

  1. Stand up straight, feet flat on ground
  2. Bend over to grab barbell with a slight bend in the knees and back in table-top position, hips shooting back towards wall behind you
  3. Keep the crown of your head slightly pointed forward—you don’t want to crank your neck back or look fully up (look down)

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Movement

  1. Keeping your core strong, and maintaining that a bend in your knees with glute-muscles engaged (squeeze your butt) and hips shooting back, pick up the barbell and bring it up, keeping it close to your legs (pretend you are shaving your legs)
  2. Leading with your chest, and maintaining a FLAT back, slowly raise your chest up, and begin to bring hips up and forward to a standing position
  3. Don’t lose that core!
  4. Stand all the way up with slight bend in the knees still, strong core, squeezed butt and flat back
  5. Shoot your hips back to the wall behind you, and begin to bring that strong upright chest forward (don’t lose your core!)
  6. Bring barbell down to mid-shin
  7. Repeat (pretend you have a steel rod or broom-stick in your back at all times!

Modification: Use dumbbells in same motion—bringing them all the way down to your chest

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Dips (Triceps/Underarms)

What You Need

Bench or Parallel Bars

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How to Do It

Starting Position:

  1. Sit on a bench, feet on the floor out in front of you with a 90-degree angle in your knees
  2. Place your hands closely to each side of your body
  3. Keep your body upright and core strong
  4. Move your butt off the bench—keeping your body/back close to the bench, and hands still outside of you (palms facing down) to hold yourself up off the bench

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Movement

  1. Keeping your knees in that 90-degree angle still (or straightening them out in front of you—either on the ground or elevated on another bench), slowly lower your butt towards the ground
  2. Elbows bend in a 90-degree angle, and stay close to your body
  3. Keep your body upright and core strong
  4. Push back up (engaging your triceps) then repeat

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Weighted Walking Lunges

What You Need

Dumbbells or Barbell (on your back)

[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row admin_label=”Row” make_fullwidth=”off” use_custom_width=”off” width_unit=”on” use_custom_gutter=”off” custom_padding=”||0px|” padding_mobile=”off” allow_player_pause=”off” parallax=”off” parallax_method=”off” make_equal=”off” parallax_1=”off” parallax_method_1=”off” parallax_2=”off” parallax_method_2=”off” column_padding_mobile=”on”][et_pb_column type=”1_2″][et_pb_text admin_label=”Exercise ” background_layout=”light” text_orientation=”left” use_border_color=”off” border_color=”#ffffff” border_style=”solid”]

How to Do It

Starting Position:

  1. Grab dumbbells of choice and hold in hands outside your legs
  2. Keep your body upright, butt engaged, core strong, feet planted on ground, and slight bend in the knees

[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][et_pb_column type=”1_2″][et_pb_image admin_label=”Image” src=”https://drlauryn.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Walking-Lunges-311×420.png” show_in_lightbox=”off” url_new_window=”off” use_overlay=”off” animation=”off” sticky=”off” align=”left” force_fullwidth=”off” always_center_on_mobile=”on” use_border_color=”off” border_color=”#ffffff” border_style=”solid”] [/et_pb_image][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row admin_label=”Row” make_fullwidth=”off” use_custom_width=”off” width_unit=”on” use_custom_gutter=”off” padding_mobile=”off” allow_player_pause=”off” parallax=”off” parallax_method=”off” make_equal=”off” parallax_1=”off” parallax_method_1=”off” column_padding_mobile=”on”][et_pb_column type=”4_4″][et_pb_text admin_label=”Directions” background_layout=”light” text_orientation=”left” use_border_color=”off” border_color=”#ffffff” border_style=”solid”]

Movement

  1. Step out with your right leg into a 90-degree angle with your knee
  2. Back knee bends towards ground for lunge—softly “kissing” the ground or barely hovering above ground (you will be on your toe)
  3. Dumbbells stay to sides in hands
  4. Keep your upper body upright and core strong, engage your gluten
  5. Push back up to standing position with the foot that is planted on the ground
  6. Step out with the left leg and repeat on this side

 

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Bent Over Row

What You Need

Dumbbells or Barbell

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How to Do It

Starting Position:

  1. Grab dumbbells of choice and hold in hands outside your legs
  2. Keep your body upright, butt engaged, core strong, feet planted on ground, and slight bend in the knees
  3. Then, shoot your hips back to come to a table-top flat-back position (similar to the deadlift)
  4. Keep arms straight with dumbbells and core engaged

[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][et_pb_column type=”1_2″][et_pb_image admin_label=”Image” src=”https://drlauryn.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/ae3c25303ad7270231c53e7d80eda581.jpg” show_in_lightbox=”off” url_new_window=”off” use_overlay=”off” animation=”off” sticky=”off” align=”left” force_fullwidth=”off” always_center_on_mobile=”on” use_border_color=”off” border_color=”#ffffff” border_style=”solid”] [/et_pb_image][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row admin_label=”Row” make_fullwidth=”off” use_custom_width=”off” width_unit=”on” use_custom_gutter=”off” padding_mobile=”off” allow_player_pause=”off” parallax=”off” parallax_method=”off” make_equal=”off” parallax_1=”off” parallax_method_1=”off” column_padding_mobile=”on”][et_pb_column type=”4_4″][et_pb_text admin_label=”Directions” background_layout=”light” text_orientation=”left” use_border_color=”off” border_color=”#ffffff” border_style=”solid”]

Movement

  1. Bring elbows back (close to body) with dumbbells in hand, maintaining flat back and table top position
  2. Keep your core strong and do not use your lower back to pull or rock your body
  3. Bring elbows back and dumbbells as close to your chest as you can while bent over
  4. Slowly lower dumbbells back down to starting position, elbows straight
  5. Repeat

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Get it? Got it? Good.

We are just getting started!

Stay tuned next week with how to create a strength training workout that works for you anytime you hit the gym! (Start practicing your moves now)!

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