We don't know if you've noticed, but the testosterone in the weights area lately... slowly being balanced out by equal levels of oestrogen. About time too.
Once upon a time, if you had a pair of boobs between your pecs and your biceps you wouldn't dream of entering the men only zone, but now you're just as likely to see women pumping iron as men and we are all over that. Can you spot me sis?
We got chatting to health and fitness blogger, Hayley Madigan, to find out what it takes to be female body builder (with abs for days). I mean really, you think you're doing well making it to the gym three times a week and then you see her. Fitness goals.
How did you get into body building?
I first got into body building when I was about 14 years old. We had a gym in the front room of my house and my dad had always lifted weights since he was young. He taught me all the benefits about weight lifting and showed me how to do the basic movements and techniques. As I saw results I stuck with it but didn't sign up to a gym until I was 22!
We struggle to go the gym once a fortnight! How do you stay motivated?
I have a great friendship group at the gym and we always make days to train together so we can motivate each other. When I train on my own, I always try to remember that 'after workout feeling' - when you feel happy and exhilarated from the release of endorphins. That's what pushes me through my workouts. I always have a clean post workout meal planned in advance too so I know my hard work at the gym will be rewarded with good grub.
Has body building / or even just working out made you more confident?
Bodybuilding has increased my confidence hugely especially in the last year. My whole body shape has changed and the compliments I receive have made my self-esteem increase vastly.
I believe that when you start to see changes in your own body you can't help but naturally feel more comfortable in your own skin and that shines through on the outside making you more confident.
Working out at a high intensity pushes your boundaries and once you realise that everyone is in the same boat in the gym, pushing themselves to their absolute limits, you no longer feel insecure about yourself. Plus all that new found energy you have will help with your personal body image confidence.
How important is it to get the right nutrition?
'You can't out-exercise a bad diet' - Years ago I used to lift weights and train my hardest but never saw the results I thought I would. I wasn't tracking what I ate and I was living on takeaways and junk food. I hardly ate protein and never took any supplements. I started to actually gain weight (and not muscle weight!) this led me to realise that I needed to change my nutrition as this was hindering all my hard work at the gym.
It's pointless to work out and train to your max when you're ruining your progress through eating fast food, yes we all love a treat now and again but the word 'treat' should not be used daily!
When junk food is advertised as cheap and convenient our brains believe it's the easiest option and therefore we slack off our nutritional values and become lazy and stop cooking healthy, vibrant and nutritious meals that will fuel us for our day ahead. I eat for fuel not for fun - I want to see results of my hard work and therefore I believe getting the right nutrition should be number 1 on the list.
What's the best and worst thing about being a female body builder?
The best thing is about being a female body builder is waking up every morning and feeling comfortable in my own skin. I now have no body insecurities and have learnt to love my body at all stages of body building, I feel confident and happy with my body every day.
The worst thing is your social life takes a complete hit! No more going out for meals, no more drunken nights out, prepare to be completely sober at all occasions with friends and a lot of the time you'll have haters that can't understand why you do what you do and they try to put a downer on things. Stay upbeat and positive as many people are uneducated in the world of bodybuilding - especially female bodybuilding!
How do you feel about women lifting weights?
I love to see other women lifting weights in the gym! I don't understand why all women don't do it! It puzzles me to think that a dumbbell is only to be used by men - no one ever said that.
Resistance training (training with weights) has unbelievable pros to our health - for example: it strengthens our bones, lowers blood pressure, improves blood flow to the heart, increases metabolism, burns fat and loads more! Women should be reaping all these benefits sooner rather than later.
A lot of women shy away from lifting because they're worried they'll 'bulk up', what are some of your top tips for using weight training for toning?
There is always that misconception that women will 'bulk up' purely just from lifting weights, however this can't naturally happen as we have very little testosterone in our bodies (unlike men) and therefore we aren't designed to have much muscle mass.
Having said this, there is a point where women can 'bulk up' and this is when you weight train and have a bad diet. Eating cakes whilst lifting weights WILL put on weight. Yes you'll increase your muscle but you will also put fat on too, so be careful with your nutrition. Of course a post workout mini bag of sweets can actually help promote muscle mass and therefore fat loss but not if you're over eating your calorie intake for the day, every day. Therefore some of my top tips for using weight training for toning would be to add in some HIIT (high intensity interval training) in between your weight sets.
This means you increase your heart rate whilst resting in between your lifting, by doing small cardio body weighted movements for short, sharp intervals. These could be along the lines of: sprinting on the spot, tuck jumps, squats, jumping squats, high knees, mountain climbers, and loads more!
Have you ever experienced people body shaming you? If so, how do you deal with that?
Yes I have, sadly muscles on women aren’t to everyone’s taste and a lot of people tend to give negative remarks such as ‘you’re too big’ ‘you need to stop lifting weights’. The thing is body building makes me happy, it improves my confidence and increases my self-esteem, so I can brush off such negative comments and rise above them as I know how many amazing benefits come from weight lifting and it will always be a major part of my life.
People will always body shame others when they are personally unhappy with their own bodies and therefore when you truly feel comfortable in your own skin nothing can get you down
What do you think will go big in fitness next?
I know there's a lot of emphasis on women's bootys at the moment and training to get a big butt is high on many women's agendas. I think this will stick around for a long time in the fitness world and will grow to be the new 'ideal body image' for our younger generations. However, I think toned arms on a woman will be massive in the fitness industry soon as sculptured arms definitely make any outfit, especially sleeveless dresses, look amazing.
How to we get sexy arms then?!
I isolate each muscle group in my arms to make sure they are all kept toned and muscular, this means I train separate muscle groups daily. I recommend to train shoulders on one day, triceps on another and upper back on another day too. These three total workouts will give you toned arms to die for.
Squatting seems to be a massive trend right now with everyone loving big butts, what are some of your top tip for pert buns?
Strengthening your booty has become hugely popular with women recently for aesthetic reasons but it also has amazing health benefits. Training legs and glutes will improve your metabolism, increase your fat burning potential, decrease cellulite and improve your pelvic floor muscles – making it perfect for women!
My top tips to get pert burns are:
- When squatting try to go as low as you can whilst making sure your knees aren’t going in front of your feet – Don’t go too heavy as perfect form is more important than anything else!
- Focus on donkey kicks with added weight – this can be done on a smith machine, cable machines or on the floor with a dumbbell.
- Tense your glute muscles when you walk – with every step you take really squeeze your butt cheeks in as this will strength the muscles and help get rid of cellulite.
- Try kickbacks whilst waiting for the kettle to boil – Whenever you have a spare few minutes practice doing single leg kickbacks whilst holding onto a chair or the kitchen side. Simply stand on one leg and kickback your opposite leg straight behind you whilst tensing your butt cheeks, complete 15-20 repetitions on each leg.
What's your day to day diet look like?
Breakfast: One protein shake and a bowl of oats made with water (sometimes I have a small spoon of peanut butter on top)
Snack: Low carb tortilla with egg whites and low fat cheese spread
Lunch: Tuna with green vegetables and sweet potato
Snack/pre workout: Quark or low fat greek yoghurt and a no added sugar jelly pot
Post workout: One protein shake
Dinner: White fish with green vegetables
Dessert: Protein bar or whey hey ice cream (protein ice cream it's delicious!)
Do you have any top tips for summer abs?
Abs are definitely made in the kitchen so my top tip for summer abs would be to stay consistent with your nutrition, don't give up after two days because you haven't seen any changes, consistency is the key to fat loss and building muscle. Once your body starts to get used to your new lifestyle it will reward you with a fabulous body. We burn fat to the highest degree when we are relaxed, less stressed and keep to a routine.
What are your top fat-burning foods?
- Apple cider vinegar
- Cayenne pepper
- Flavoured Green tea
- Protein shakes
You can catch Hayley blogging about all things health and fitness at fitness-fan.co.uk!
Check out more fit-spiration pics of Hayley!
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