The fitness world can be a daunting place at times, particularly when you’re first starting out on your lifting journey. Packed full of weights, machines and equipment that can look complex to use, even the avid gym-goer can feel somewhat intimidated.
But don’t panic, girls, because we’re here to help. As you know, we’re all about empowering women through fitness and we see it as our responsibility to give you the right tools to help you achieve your goals.
So, if you’re new to lifting, we’ve rounded up some of the best weight training exercises to get you started.
WEIGHT TRAINING FOR BEGINNERS: THE BASICS
Before we get stuck in, there’s a few things you should know.
WEIGHT TRAINING TERMS:
- One lift of a weight or completion of an exercise is called a repetition or ‘rep’ for short.
- A series of repetitions is called a ‘set of reps’ or ‘set’. For beginners, we’d tend to recommend 3 sets of ten reps per exercise.
Like with all workouts, it’s essential to warm up thoroughly, especially when performing exercises your muscles may not have used before. We’d suggest trying aerobic activity, such as walking or jogging.
- To begin with, try 1 or 2 repetitions with a low weight to get yourself familiar with the exercise. If you feel comfortable, try up to 10 reps consecutively.
- Adjust the weight accordingly. If you can only do less than 8 reps, it’s likely you’re lifting too heavy. If you can do more than 12 reps without too much effort, try upping the weight a little.
- Don’t forget to rest between sets to allow your body to recover and replenish its energy for the next round. 1 to 2 minutes is usually the recommended amount of time for a 10 rep set of low to moderate intensity.
- Be mindful that if you experience any pain or discomfort during your weight training exercises, this could be a sign that you need to correct your form. Try this with little or no weight and don’t be afraid to seek help from a fitness professional.
Just like warmups, stretching is absolutely vital. This keeps your muscles flexible and strong and helps to maintain or increase the range of motion in your joints. Because the last thing you want is joint pains and muscle damage.
BEST WEIGHT TRAINING EXERCISES FOR BEGINNERS
Squat lift exercises are arguably one of the best weight lifting exercises for building lower body power and strength. This is because it’s a compound exercise that engages multiple muscles, including the quads, glutes and core, and joints at once.
Squats are also a great way to improve your balance, mobility and flexibility, which are all core components of lifting.
HOW TO DO IT
Start this exercise without a weight and when/if you feel comfortable to do so, progress to the barbell (without weights).
- With your hands placed in a comfortable position, duck under the bar and place it on your upper back (traps). Pull your elbows back and squeeze your shoulder blades together to create a stable platform.
- Step away from the rack and set your feet roughly shoulder-width apart, with your toes pointing slightly outward. Keep your feet flat at all times.
- Slowly bend your knees while keeping your chest up right until your thighs are at least parallel with the floor. Make sure to always keep your hips under the bar.
- Push through the floor to slowly bring yourself back to the starting position.
- Repeat as many times as desired for a set - we recommend 10 per set (see above).
- Once complete, safely return the bar to the rack.
2. CHEST PRESS
The chest press exercise targets (as you’ve probably guessed) the main chest muscle, the pectorals. It also uses muscles in the shoulders and upper arms. This particular exercise can help with daily activities which involve pushing or carrying and can also enhance your performance in sports, such as tennis and swimming.
HOW TO DO IT
You can use a variety of equipment to do chest press, but this particular set uses dumbbells.
- Lie on a bench or the floor with a dumbbell in each hand. If you use a bench, you can have your feet up on the bench or on the floor, depending on what is most comfortable for you.
- Position the dumbbells directly above your shoulders with your upper arms at about 45 degrees to the body and your elbows forward of the shoulder line.
- In a controlled manner, push the weights upward while exhaling, taking care not to lock out the elbows in a sharp movement. The weights should almost meet above the top of the chest. Make sure to keep your head and shoulders on the bench/floor.
- Lower the weights, muscles contracted, while inhaling and controlling the return to the starting position.
- Repeat as many times as desired for a set.
If you’re looking for a weight training exercise to grow your glutes, this is it! Deadlifts target a range of muscles, including hamstrings, core, lats and the forearm muscles.
If you’ve previously suffered from a lower back injury, deadlifting using the correct form can also help strengthen those affected muscles and significantly help prevent future back injuries.
HOW TO DO IT
- Place the bar on the ground in front of you and with your feet shoulder-width apart, position your toes underneath the bar. Push your hips up and back, creating tension in the hamstrings. Your hips should be above your knees.
- Keeping your head and neck inline as you roll your shoulders back, pick up the bar and brace through your entire body.
- Push the floor away from you as you lift the bar upward. Be careful not to raise your hips first and make sure to keep your arms extended the entire time. Think of the legs and shoulders moving upward in unison with the hips as the balancing point.
- The bar should almost graze the shins and come to rest around thigh level. Pull your shoulders back as much as possible without bending backward.
- Lower the bar back down your legs by hinging at the hips and slightly bending at the knees.
- Carefully return the bar to the floor and brace again before repeating.
- Repeat as many times as desired for a set.
4. SEATED CABLE ROW
This exercise is great for developing the forearm and back muscles. It works by using a pulling motion and encourages you to engage your abs while keeping your back straight. This can help prevent strain and injury.
HOW TO DO IT
- Sit on the bench with your knees bent and grasp the cable attachment. Position yourself so that you have to reach to grab the handle with extended arms, yet without curling the lower back.
- Pull the handle and weight toward your lower abdomen. Be careful not to use the momentum of the row too much.
- Target your middle to upper back by keeping your back straight and squeezing your shoulder blades together as you ‘row’.
- Return the handle forward under tension to full stretch all whilst keeping your back straight.
- Repeat as many times as desired for a set.
5. LAT PULLDOWN
As the name suggests, this exercise targets the latissimus dorsi, also known as the ‘lats’. Back weight training exercises are an effective way to improve your posture and to ease pulling movements, such as performing a pull-up or even opening a door. Having strong lats can help relieve some kinds of back pain.
HOW TO DO IT
- Sit comfortably on the seat with your feet flat on the floor. Check the height of the bar and adjust accordingly. The bar should be at a height that your outstretched arms can comfortably grasp the bar without having to fully stand up.
- Grasp the bar with a wide, overhand grip.
- As you exhale, pull the bar down until it’s approximately level with your chin. Aim to keep your torso still at all times and engage your abs as you pull. The bottom of the motion should be where your elbows can no longer move downward.
- From this position, slowly return the bar to the starting position. Do not let go.
- Repeat as many times as desired for a set.
BENEFITS OF LIFTING WEIGHTS
Resistance training is how you build strength not only in your muscles, but your bones and joints too. Not to mention you’ll also burn heaps of calories during your weight workout too, which will help boost metabolism.
If you’re also into sport, weight training can improve your athletic performance and reduce the likelihood of injury.
If you’re still a bit anxious, it’s always worth watching someone else, such as a personal trainer or gym instructor, to show you how to do these exercises first. Remember, girls, it’s perfectly okay to ask for help!
If you’re not confident asking someone else, you could always try watching a video tutorial on YouTube. Whatever the case, this is your sign to get up and go! You’ve got this!
Psst… Don’t forget to bag yourself a fresh ‘fit, so you can truly lift your best life!
Your 5-Minute Mental Health Check Up
Hey there! How are you feeling?
That’s a question we don’t ask ourselves enough.
It’s quite normal for us to schedule an appointment with the dentist or doctor to check our oral and physical health, so why is it less common to check on our mental health?
So many factors are closely related to our mental health, which is why it’s important to address the small changes and approaches we can take to prioritise and care for our mental wellbeing.
That’s why, for Mental Health Awareness Week, we’ve created a quick and easy five-minute mental health check you can do every day, anywhere.
WHAT IS MENTAL HEALTH?
Mental health is how you feel in your mind and your mood. Just like your physical health, it depends on many factors, including your genetics, your environment, your circumstances, what you do to maintain it, and underlying physical or mental health conditions you may suffer from, and how they are treated.
This Mental Health Awareness Week, which runs from Monday 15th May to Sunday 21st May, addresses anxiety. Anxiety is an emotion we all experience, but sometimes it can get out of control and cause issues for our mental health.
In a survey of 3,000 adults, 34% said they experienced anxiety.
HOW TO LOOK AFTER YOUR MENTAL HEALTH
Here are just a few things you can ask yourself or do to ensure you’re doing what you can to protect your emotional wellness.
HAVE I DRANK ENOUGH WATER?
Keeping hydrated is key for both your physical and mental health. When you don’t drink enough water and start to become dehydrated, your body triggers warning signals that you’re in a ‘life-threatening’ situation and starts kicking up stress hormones, particularly cortisol. An increase in cortisol is connected to anxiety, depression and mood disorders.
Carry a bottle of water with you to keep your hydration levels topped up. If you’re someone who likes more structure, you can use alarms or trackers to remind you that drinking water is part of your self-care.
HAVE I EATEN THE RIGHT FOODS TO FUEL MY BODY?
Diet and lifestyle can have a profound effect on our mood and research reveals there’s a direct link between what we eat and how we feel.
There are plenty of foods and nutrients that can put a smile on your face and make you feel awesome. When we’re stressed, it’s tempting to reach for comfort foods like pizza and sugary snacks that give us a temporary ‘high’. However, these foods can soon leave you feeling exhausted, jittery or sluggish.
Food high in fibre, as well as fruit, veg, nuts and seeds are more beneficial to your mental health. Discover our very own nutritious mood-boosting recipes here.
DID I GET ENOUGH SLEEP?
Anyone who has struggled with sleep will know what a difference it makes to our bodies, minds and ability to function.
For many people, sleep is often the first thing that suffers when they’re struggling with their mental health. The CDC recommends adults get between seven and nine hours of sleep a day.
If you’re struggling with your sleep, there are a few simple changes you can make, including:
- Establish a bedtime routine;
- Avoid tech and caffeine before you go to sleep;
- Practice meditation/relaxation.
READ MORE: How To Fix Your Sleep Schedule
Humans are hardwired to need time in nature, as we evolved to prefer environments where we had fresh water, sunlight, and nature because those provided us with the resources we needed to survive. But, nowadays, nature doesn’t just allow us to survive, it helps us to thrive.
Spending even small bursts of time outdoors can greatly benefit your mental wellbeing. A 2019 study found that spending just 20 minutes outside significantly lowered stress hormone levels.
MOVE YOUR BODY
Okay, so this one is our thing for sure. Keeping active has so many benefits, mentally and physically - from lifting weights to flowing yoga.
Regular movement throughout the day can boost your mood, reduce stress and refocus your mind.
Partner some fresh air with your movement to elevate the benefits - and kill two birds with one stone.
Explore our guided workouts and fitness tips here.
REACH OUT TO FRIENDS
Human connections actually boost feel-good neurotransmitters in your brain. The key is not how many friends you have, but to surround yourself with those whom you can be your most authentic self.
Be honest with yourself about how much time you need to spend with your friends to feel fulfilled, refreshed and empowered, and then make it happen - even if it’s just a catch-up dinner once a month, it makes a difference.
Meeting new people can be equally beneficial to your mental wellbeing, as studies have shown that connecting with strangers can help us feel happier and more connected with our communities.
WHAT AM I DOING TODAY THAT I CAN LOOK FORWARD TO?
Planning things to look forward to or that you enjoy doing can help us cope with difficult situations by increasing our sense of hope.
Whether it’s something as small as binge-watching your favourite TV series or something more extravagant like a weekend away with friends, factoring in time to do what you love will help you adopt a more positive outlook each day.
A huge part of prioritising your mental wellbeing is learning to understand and manage your feelings.
When we’re upset, we don’t always know why we’re feeling that way. It often helps to acknowledge our feelings without any judgement or telling ourselves we’re ‘weak’ for feeling the way we do.
We all have good days and bad days, and that’s okay. However, by asking ourselves the questions in this article and adopting these simple habits, we can work toward feeling like our best selves once again. Remember, rest is a basic human need.
Inside The New AYBL HQ
A world-class team deserves a world-class home - and after months of hard work, dedication and long days, the time has finally come.
Introducing the new AYBL HQ.
Measuring an impressive 56,000 sq feet, our global home is a place like no other. Featuring modern design throughout and a wealth of creative working spaces, our office is a place where people come to innovate and be their best.
Want to discover more? Join us as we step foot inside our creative hub.
Building on our high standards, our office is a hub of creativity and collaboration. From top to bottom, the stylistic space is kitted out with all the necessary tools and resources to optimise productivity and inspire our talented teams to push boundaries.
Its ultra modern design allows for plenty of natural light, open spaces and greenery to accommodate different work styles and preferences.
As a community-first brand, we wanted to create an environment that would not only enhance creativity and productivity, but a better sense of community and belonging for our people.
1. THOUGHTFUL DESIGN
Designed to maximise natural light, flow and functionality, our new home offers a modern and sleek look that reflects our brand and values.
2. COMFORT THROUGH & THROUGH
On every level, the office is equipped with comfortable furniture, ergonomic workstations and state-of-the-art equipment. There are also spaces for relaxation, where you can unwind, recharge and take time for you.
4. CUTTING-EDGE TECHNOLOGY
When you’re the UK’s fastest-growing company, you need technology that can keep up and deliver. From video conferencing tools and virtual whiteboards to our very own photo studio equipped with high-class cameras, our new HQ is home to the latest technology to support collaboration, communication and productivity.
This place truly has everything. That goes for hot water taps on every floor, too. Brew anyone?
Influential, inspirational and innovative. We had to make sure our team had the space to thrive and build the best ideas.
Designed to accommodate different working styles, our office offers a range of spaces for focused work, collaborative work and socialising, as well as options for remote work and flexible schedules.
AYBL is on an ever-evolving journey to ensure the brand promotes and supports sustainability wherever possible.
With that in mind, we have incorporated a range of eco-friendly features into our office design, including energy-efficient lighting and appliances and recycling programmes.
We understand that there is still plenty of work to be done, but right now, it’s about progress not perfection.
We’re incredibly proud to be working in such an amazing office space that not only supports us to be the best in our field, but supports our health, happiness and the environment. Here, we can work together to pave the way for the boldest and bravest ideas whilst feeling like we’re part of something special.
This is truly where the magic will happen.
How To Start Running
The hardest part of running? Getting out the door.
Running is a great way to get fit and feel better, but sometimes, a lack of motivation - or even know-how - can catch you short.
Starting a new running habit needn’t be difficult - all you need is a good pair of running shoes and the willingness to move a little or a lot, all at your own pace.
To help put you one stride ahead, we’ve pulled together the very best running tips for beginners, so you can get off to a safe start and enjoy hitting the tarmac (or treadmill).
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM OUR BEGINNER’S GUIDE TO RUNNING
THE BENEFITS OF RUNNING
If enjoyment alone isn’t enough to get you increasing your stride, perhaps the proven health benefits of running will?
Running is one of the most effective ways to increase daily activity, cardiovascular fitness and mental health. It also is widely accessible, as you don’t need any fancy equipment, it’s relatively inexpensive and you can do it just about anywhere.
Here are some of the other key health benefits of running:
- Promotes muscle development;
- Can help aid weight loss;
- Helps to relieve stress levels;
- Boosts the release of endorphins, sometimes called a ‘runner’s high’;
- Increases bone strength and joint health;
- Promotes better sleep;
- Increases lung capacity, metabolism and energy levels;
- Reduces cholesterol levels and risk of heart disease.
Whether you’re new to running or getting back to it after a long break, it’s really important to ease yourself in and gradually build up to avoid injury. Here are some top tips to get your started on the right foot.
Now, we’re not saying you need to go out and buy a wardrobe full of expensive new running kit, but what we are saying is that staying equipped for the environment and surface you’ll be running on is non-negotiable.
Start by investing in a suitable pair of running shoes that fit comfortably and offer extra support, cushioning and grip for your runs.
When it comes to the clothing, well, that’s where we step in. Fusing form and functionality, our Pace Collection is designed for practicality - with soft, lightweight and breathable details - so you can run with ease and without distraction.
Take measured steps to keep your body safe and free from injury. Warming-up is an essential part of any workout, especially running. We recommend walking or doing an easy jog for five to 10 minutes before increasing your intensity. You may also benefit from warm-up exercises, such as dynamic stretches.
Be mindful of other safety advice, such as running against the flow of traffic and carrying your mobile with you at all times.
Nothing can get you lost in the moment quite like blasting your beats as you pound the pavement.
We all have our own taste in music, which makes it all the more important to pick a playlist that’ll motivate you to power through, even when times get tough, with the wind against you and the heavens pouring.
If you need a little inspo, we’ve got plenty of tracks to keep you moving. Check out our Spotify here.
OUR TOP SIX RUNNING TIPS FOR BEGINNERS
Now that we’ve established the basics, you’re probably wondering exactly how to start running?
If you’re totally new to running, chances are your motivation levels are pretty high. That being said, it’s as important as ever to pace yourself. This includes your running speed, intensity and training frequency.
Don’t be afraid to start off with a few fast paced walks each week to build up confidence, condition your muscles and create a positive habit you can stick to. Pacing yourself will allow you to continue progressing and reduce your risk of injury.
The likelihood of strains, repetitive stress and foot pain tends to be greater during your first few weeks of running as a beginner, or if you’re returning to running after a long break.
The Run-Walk Method is a great way for new runners to get started, helping to build endurance with less joint stress and is a manageable intensity level.
The method combines running with intervals of walking. Start by alternating one minute intervals of running with one minute of walking, and then gradually try to increase the time spent running. As you become more comfortable, reduce the time spent walking.
Check out our beginner’s running plan further down this page.
Never underestimate the power of rest.
It’s completely natural for your muscles to feel a little sorer than usual, but if you’re experiencing genuine pain or discomfort, it’s crucial you allow it time to rest and recover.
If you’re suffering from sore muscles, more likely than not, it’s DOMS - AKA delayed onset muscle soreness. This is the aching or stiffness you experience as a result of intense training, however, this should subside within 48 hours.
Avoiding exercise altogether can actually prolong DOMS, so consider lower intensity exercise, such as walking, mobility and slow jogging to increase blood flow and relieve your muscle fatigue.
Chances are, you already knew this, but if not, you’ll soon learn that eating well and staying hydrated can significantly influence your runs.
You lose water through sweat, whether cold or hot, so you need to drink before, during, and after your runs. You ideally want to drink 120 ml to 180 ml of water every 20 minutes, but pay attention to your thirst level and drink when you feel thirsty. During longer workouts (90 minutes or more), some of your fluid intake should include a sports drink to replace sodium and other minerals (electrolytes).
In terms of nutrition, it’s best to eat something light and high in carbohydrates but low in fat, protein and fibre. Aim to finish eating 90 to 120 minutes before you start running.
If you’re running for longer than 90 minutes, you’ll need to replace some of the energy you’re burning. A general rule of thumb is to consume 100 calories after an hour and another 100 calories every 45 minutes.
It’s easy to neglect other aspects of your fitness and strength when starting your running journey. Balancing your running sessions with other forms of resistance training and exercise will help to build muscular resilience, reducing your risk of injury and boosting performance.
Repeatedly hitting the road without building strength in the gym can not only lead to injury, but a performance plateau too. Be sure to balance out your training with strength-based exercises to work on muscular endurance, speed, power and potential imbalances - all of which will help with your running in the long run.
Running is a natural movement, but that doesn’t mean you can’t improve aspects of your running form to improve your experience and efficiency.
First things first, keep your posture upright. Keep your head lifted, your back long and tall and shoulders level but relaxed. Maintain a neutral pelvis and ensure you’re not leaning forward or back at your waist.
Likewise, it’s important to monitor your footstrike - this is the way your foot hits the pavement. You might land on your heel, in the middle of your foot, or on your toes or forefoot. It’s recommended that you should try to land in the middle of your foot, and then roll through to the front of your toes. However, if you’re naturally a toe runner (land on your toes) or heel striker, it may be best not to change your stride.
RUNNING PLAN FOR BEGINNERS
Without a clear idea of what you’re trying to achieve, and the steps you need to take to get there, you’re making the challenge much tougher than it needs to be.
That’s why we’ve put together the ultimate running plan for beginners.