This week we’re looking at working out with weights in the gym. I’m an avid weightlifter and love strength training for many reasons.

It helps develop stronger bones and muscle which, especially as we get older, promotes good posture as well as burning calories.

It is an important point to make at this stage that, as a female, strength training will not make you look beefy and you won’t bulk up, which is something many women fear.

In fact, strength training can instead make you feel and look lean and toned, as well as strong. Being toned is about developing muscle and reducing body fat, yet some women are still reluctant to take up strength training in order to change their body shape because of the perception it may make them stocky.

My aim for all of my female clients is to help them develop a body shape they are happy with, one that has a small amount of muscle definition while at the same time helping to show that off by decreasing body fat.

It’s important to understand the difference between a well balanced, strength-trained body and a body that has over-eaten calories and lifted too many weights, and therefore may look a little more stocky than you would want.

Finding that happy medium is crucial when achieving your body shape goals – and this is why a sensible, healthy diet and strength training go hand in hand.

So this week and next I will focus on some of my favourite strength training exercises, using weights to work the whole body – see the six exercises below – to help you work towards achieving that toned and defined look you are after.

Look to add in cardio routines like treadmill sprints, cross-trainer, stair climbs at home or on a machine for 4-6 minutes between each six-exercise round to really ramp up the burn on this workout.

• Next week: home workout with dumbbells, food preparation tips and the common mistakes people make.

Getting back into a routine: Part 3 of 4

Reverse lunge

1/ Stand upright holding dumbbells by your sides with your arms straight.

2/ Take a step backwards, dropping your back knee to the floor and leaning your torso slightly forward with your weight on your front leg. Push off your front foot to return to the start position.

Side lateral on Bosu

I like this exercise as it stops the sway putting pressure on the lower back that you can get when standing.

1/ Start by kneeling on the Bosu ball, balancing with your toes on the ground behind you.

2/ With two dumbbells in hand raise the arms to shoulder-height not allowing the dumbbells to raise above the elbow at any stage. Return to start position.

Torso rotation

Tip: You can use a plate dumbbell, medicine ball or kettlebell for this exercise, or simplify it with no weights.

1/ Start by lying on the centre of your back on a Swiss Ball holding a dumbbell with both arms straight up over your chest.

2/ Rotate the body to one side, twisting at the torso, keeping the arm straight but allowing the arms to also rotate. Return to start position, repeating on the other side. This is one rep.

Weighted glute bridge on swiss ball

1/ Start by lying on your back with your legs bent and heels on a Swiss Ball, holding a barbell on your hips.

2/ Then raise your hips off the floor and then return to start position. Don’t relax in between each rep.

Zercher squat

An ideal exercise if you suffer with any wrist or shoulder injuries as it takes pressure off them but is also great for core stability training.

1/ Stand upright holding a barbell in front on the inside of your bent elbows with your hands clasped at your upper chest and your feet shoulder-width apart.

2/ Then lower your body towards the floor, sending your hips back and down and bending your knees. Push through the heels to return to start position.

Lunge and pass with kettlebell

1/ Stand upright holding a kettlebell in one hand by your side. Then step forward into a lunge position, passing the kettlebell behind your front foot to the other hand.

2/ Then push off the front foot with the kettlebell in the other hand. Repeat, alternating throughout.

Health & Living

This article appeared on Independent.ie