Here, we find out how to work strength sessions into our routine with a little help from our new strength ambassador, Shelley Rudman…
Strength and resistance training has incredible body benefits, increasing bone density, revving up your metabolism, upping your running pace and helping you maintain precious muscle as you get older. But many women avoid the dumbbells for fear that they will bulk out.
“It’s a common misconception that weight training will make women beef up, but the truth,” according to Jennis founder and Olympic gold medallist, Jessica Ennis-Hill, “is that you’re more likely to become lean, strong and powerful.”
“Importantly, if you do the right type of resistance training, whether that’s with weights or using your own bodyweight, it brings tangible results and feels fantastic.”
To help you up your weight training game while getting your form spot-on, we’re introducing Shelley Rudman, Jennis strength coach, into Jennis . Here’s a bit more about what you can expect…
Tell us about your background, Shelley…
Although I’m now a women’s specific strength and conditioning coach, I’m probably best known for my sporting achievements in skeleton bobsled, which is where you hurtle headfirst down an icy track. I competed in three Olympics, I won almost every title in my sport and set quite a few world records on tracks around the world.
What is one of the things you find missing in women's training?
I have a lot of women coming into the gym who are worried about doing strength work because they either feel that they're going to bulk up or they think they're not strong enough to even start with weights.
Strength training is really beneficial – and for so many things beyond the obvious strength and toning benefits
I think there's a big misconception with weight training that you'll become big and bulky. Because of a woman’s hormonal makeup, it’s actually really difficult for us to get bodybuilder big and takes an incredible amount of hard work. You need to lift seriously heavy weights, completely transform your diet and train A LOT. What you’ll find is that you are more likely to get lean and toned.
If you’ve never used weights before, it’s important to note that you really don’t need to start with mega huge dumbbells to start seeing and feeling the effects. As long as they are heavy enough for you to feel some warmth in the muscle when you're working with them, you’ll get results.
How does strength training benefit a woman's body?
Strength training is really beneficial for so many things beyond the obvious strength and toning benefits. First up, there’s the benefit to bone health and the fact it helps with osteoporosis and the stability of movement around the joints – particularly around the knees and the hip area.
Because muscle burns more calories than fat, if you’re doing strength training you’ll burn more calories each day at rest. A 2014 study found that a nine-month resistance training programme increased resting metabolic rate by around 5%.
Then there’s the impact on your self image. A 2015 study found that two strength-training sessions a week boosted body confidence and body image, with researchers attributing this to the fact that lifting weights helps you feel more positive about your fitness, weight and health in general, which in turn helps you feel more proud of your strong body.
What are the main fitness issues you help women with?
Probably stability, core and strength. Quite a lot of ladies come to me because they need their core to become a little bit stronger. Obviously, if they've had children, it’s a key concern to make sure that everything gets back into a stronger state – and that’s something I can definitely help with.
Because muscle burns more calories than fat, if you’re doing strength training you’ll burn more calories each day at rest
How did you meet Jess?
I actually met Jess at the EIS in Sheffield, where we used to train together. After I had Ella, I realised that I needed to work on my strength and power. I found a really good strength coach in Sheffield, with my goal to become more powerful, stronger and robust throughout the season. Jess was training there as well and we became really good friends.
What would be your advice for anyone who hasn’t tried strength training before?
My first advice to anyone doing strength training would be to make sure that your technique is really good before you ever load up and go heavier. My general rule is always good technique over heavy weights and poor form and you’ll see me say that in the Jennis app videos a lot.
What weight should I be using for my sessions?
To make maximum strength and tone gains, there needs to be a good balance between weight and number of repetitions. What’s key is that your weights are light enough that you maintain good form in your moves throughout to avoid risk of injury, but heavy enough to be challenging, particularly in the final reps.