Strength Training for Women - Getting the basics right

Stepping into the weights area of any gym can be super intimidating, for many it means stepping into the unknown and well outside of one’s comfort zone. However, if you're willing to take a tiny step beyond your comfort zone, you'll be on the road to some fantastic progress. This two-part blog series will give you great tips to get you started.   

Getting the basics right.   Knowing what exercises to perform, how much weight to lift and how many times to lift it can be difficult to work out for yourself. Just one session with a personal trainer or fitness professional can be really helpful. Many moons ago, before Instagram, you would buy Men’s Health Magazines (you can now get Women’s Health Magazine too) and simply copy exercise routines from there. With limitless online routines available it’s difficult to know where to begin! If you are a beginner, you want to aim to lift between 3-4 sets of 8-12 repetitions with around 60-90 seconds rest. If you can get to rep 12 easily then you need to up the weight, the last few reps should feel difficult and testing.  You want to focus on the whole of your body each workout – chest, shoulders, back, legs, bum and of course your core. A simple routine to get you started might look something like this:  

  1. Leg Press Machine (Legs) 3-4 of 8-12 reps
  2. Hamstring Curl Machine (Legs) 3-4 of 8-12 reps
  3. Incline dumbbell bench press (Chest and Shoulders) 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps 
  4. Assisted Chin Up on Machine (Back) 3-4 of 8-12 reps 
  5. Body weight glute bridge (Bum/ glutes) 3-4 of 8-15 reps
  6. Plank on knees or Feet, 3 sets of 15- 30 seconds.

But beware, feeling sore and exhausted is not always a sign of a good workout.  It is well known that women are often encouraged to seek out extreme soreness, and extreme fatigue like it’s the only indicator of a successful workout. Strength training isn’t about reaching the finish line as quickly as possible, but it is about moving at your own pace. It’s normal to feel sore when you start, but overtime your body will adapt and the soreness will reduce. 

Remember exercise is meant to help you feel revitalised, if you are leaving the gym feeling absolutely exhausted, miserable and ‘beat up’, you may be pushing yourself too hard.  

The best advice we can give to you, is to be kind and gentle with yourself, it’s ok to feel uncomfortable.  If you work-out in a crowded gym, venturing to the free weight area may be intimidating. The treadmill and cross-trainer feel safe right?  To make stepping into the free weights arena a little more manageable you can 

  1.  Recruit a friend to work out with you. You can support and encourage each other. 

  1. Pledge to do just one exercise in the free weights area, or spend just a few minutes there, then head back to an area you feel more comfortable.  

  1. Start at home – practice body weight squats, press ups and sit ups and build your confidence or follow an online home programme to get you started.   

  1. Book in for a Personal Training session.  Get 1 or 2 friends involved and see if you can spread the cost of the session.(£10 -15 per session instead of £30-35!) 

  2. Prefer not to train with a guy, look for a female personal trainer.

  3.  Load your favourite music onto your phone and listen to it while you train.  

  4. If in doubt, it is okay to stick to exercise machines, as you think about working each body part. Simply follow the instructions on the side of the machines. 

  5. Ask a member of staff for some guidance. Gyms often have staff on hand to help. Don’t be afraid to ask for a little bit of help to get you started.  

  6. Join a Women's only class. 

Remember, ANY exercise is better than none at all. Hang on in there. Your confidence will build eventually. The actions of confidence come before the feelings of confidence. You’ve got this!  

And please don’t worry…lifting weights won’t make you bulky. You aren’t going to wake up looking like the Hulk. It takes many years to build guns of steel and a substantial muscle mass. Lifting weights can actually make you feel like a strong independent badass woman. Get involved! 


Resistance Training and Bone Density

It’s no surprise that resistance training can have a profound enhancement on all aspects of health. From metabolism increase and increased muscle mass, to building stronger social connections. One benefit people may often hear, and often a reason many older people partake in such activity, is its effect on bone health. Or bone density specifically. But how exactly does this work? And how can you also access such benefits for yourself? Continue reading to find out!

If you were to look at a cross section of your bone mass, you would see a structure resembling honeycomb. Just like what you would see should you bite into a Cadbury crunchie (we’re not suggesting you go and do that, health and fitness after all!) For some of us, that honeycomb is tightly packed together, meaning we have a high bone density. But as we age those bubbles increase in size and number, and as a consequence our bones weaken. You may have heard of the condition osteoporosis, or brittle bone disease, well that’s exactly what’s happening here.

Before about the age of about 30, our bone density can be thought of as a piggy bank. We have the opportunity to increase our bone density at the fastest rate through exercise and a diet that supports a healthy hormone balance. After such age, all those pennies we put in begin to be taken out, and our bones begin to weaken. But don’t worry, there is hope! The good news is that resistance training can slow down the rate at which that occurs, and if done frequently enough, can even reverse the process.

Our bones contain cells called osteoblasts; they are cells that work in groups to form new bone mass called osteoid. Osteoid is made from a variety of proteins (mostly one called bone collagen) and also calcium deposits. Resistance training increases the activity of osteoblast bone making cells, and in this way has great effects on our bone density.

Here at SYNERGI Personal Training, we can support you in taking up resistance training, even if it is your first time in doing so! We have women’s only strength classes. We have recently launched Strength classes for older and wiser women ( check out our 40+ classes).  We also have  mixed Strength classes, Powerlifting Clubs and beginners weightlifting sessions to cater for all abilities and ages. We also offer Small group Personal Training to keep costs down.


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Misconceptions about having a Personal Trainer

Finding the right personal trainer for you can be stressful and confusing especially if you don’t know what to expect. Recommendations from friends or reading online comments can help. It is important to take your time finding the best trainer and environment for you. Personal Training is great, but be careful of the many misconceptions people may have when starting with a PT. 

Misconception #1:  I’m going to automatically get into great shape when I hire a Trainer 

 You may only see the trainer for 1-4 hours a week, but what about the rest of the time? There are 168 hours in week, that’s a lot of time to be going at it solo!  A Personal Trainer can push you hard in your sessions and give you a nutrition and training programme to follow outside of the sessions, but ultimately it’s up to you to stick to the plan and to listen to the advice to get the results you desire. Taking this responsibility is 99% of the battle.  

Misconception #2: I just want someone to tell me what to do and how to eat 

 The best recipe for success is to work with your trainer to work out what is best for YOU as an individual. Many people fail to reach their goals because they follow online training programmes that are way too technically advanced for them or that have no longevity.  As well as being great motivator, your trainer will also design a programme specific to your needs, abilities and progress. He or she will also create a nutrition plan for you, tailored to your weekly training volume and competing demands. A good Personal Trainer will look at you holistically and give you advice that takes into consideration working hours, home life, sleep, stress levels and current nutritional and exercise knowledge.  

Misconception #3: I’ve got to stick to the same Trainer once I’ve started sessions 

You might be the type of person that loves the trainer shouting at you, but then you might also find it very ‘off-putting and embarrassing.  You might want a female personal trainer at heart but can only find a man. Some trainers might purely focus on cardio and HIIT workouts, others on mobility and movement, so it will be useless if youmain goals are to learn how get stronger and strength-train. Usually checking out their social media pages and reading their bio on their website will be a good signal as to whether they are the right type of trainer for you.  


Here at SYNERGI Personal Training we have a team of trainers with a variety of training and coaching backgrounds to fit every need. We offer no fee consultations as well as “pay as you go” sessions, so you can test the water and make sure the trainer is the right fit for you. 

All of our Personal Trainers are based in Roath, Cardiff.  We offer gym based programmes, nutrition seminars and workshops as well as Personal Training at home.

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SYNERGI Personal Training
  • Colchester Ave
    South Wales
    CF23 9AP
  • TEL: 07817 415569
Opening Hours 



9.30am to 3pm 

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