Over the years as a personal trainer, I've thankfully seen a change in attitudes towards female strength training. Many years ago, there was a myth perpetuated that women couldn't strength train or lift any kind of weight during their training, because it would make them 'bulk up'.
Women were consigned to aerobics classes, running and swimming. Those who did lift weights did it to the extreme and were (frustratingly)lauded as having a 'manly' body (who was anyone to judge?!).
Thankfully, now things have changed. In gyms up and down the country, and indeed with my own clients, women are benefitting from lifting weights. Only the ones who want to 'bulk up' are bulking up and are hopefully no longer labelled as 'too masculine'. The rest are becoming strong and lean, which is the ultimate goal of exercising after all!
Too Much Emphasis on the Bottom Half
But with this move towards female strength training, has come a new problem. We all now know that strong is the new sexy, but strong means the whole body. Not just the glutes, or bum muscles. We have the likes of the Kardashian sisters to thank for the rise in popularity of a larger, more pert, behind. But this shouldn't be the only goal. Strong means also training the upper body.
Just like men concentrating solely on lifting weights to train the biceps, triceps and pectorals, an unbalanced body where women only concentrate on the bottom halfshouldn't be the goal. We only need to look at cartoon characters such as Johnny Bravo and his overtly muscular top half and slimmer bottom half to see that only training half of your body can be seen as overly exaggerated.
So if your workouts consist of cardio, plus strength training (either with weights or against your own body weight) such as squats, lunges, hip thrusts, glute bridges, glute kicks and lateral side bounds, then you might want to consider adding in some upper body strength work.
Working on Your Upper Body
I'm not at all saying that you shouldn't continue to work on your glutes. Nor that you shouldn't strive to have a rounder, perter bottom if that's what you want. But imagine how good you'd also feel if your back, core and arms were just as toned?
I work with women of all ages to help them reach their goals. I train my clients to work on the following:
• Foam rolling and lacrosse ball work for neck and upper back strength and correcting and preventing poor posture.
• Core and trunk conditioning including planks, side planks, loaded carries and rotation work which also helps to stabilise and strengthen the spine, which can be neglected during glute training.
• Overhead presses to strengthen the shoulders and upper back, and help improve posture.
When my clients start to see an overall improvement in strength, posture and body shape, they're amazed! I make you a promise, upper body strength training isn't going to make you bulk up, unless you're eating and training for size gains.