Finding Your Strength Beyond the Surface – Why women should train with weight! By Rachel Howard

Finding Your Strength Beyond the Surface – Why women should train with weight! By Rachel Howard

We all have our own journey with fitness. If you don’t already use weights in your fitness routine, my bet is you are a bit curious. 

We have all heard about the benefits of load bearing exercise to keep our bones strong and help us retain muscle mass. We know we should do something about it – it’s a case of use it or lose it as, after the age of 30, our bone density and muscle mass decline at a rate of 15% per decade. 

So why do so many women find it hard to start weight training? I hear many excuses. Many of my clients cite a long-held fear of bulking, and most feel “that section” of the gym is too “blokey” and intimidating.  Many struggle to know where to start and feel daft, and even unsafe picking weights up. Working with weights, seems to put a load on their mind! 

I have also lost count of how many tiny sets of pink dumbbells I have seen people show me as they share their concerns. As if the solution, knowing we really should do something about it, is buying that set and seeing them gather dust for reassurance that we at least tried, right? 

I want to encourage you to take a leap of faith with me. To not just try, but to embrace that section of the gym, those weights, and a new regime of resistance-based work. Make friends with weights. They are literally our best friend for achieving so many of our fitness and health goals! 

Looking at my site blog, or my Instagram @rachel_howard_strength-beyond, you can see that I have had to dispel my fears and assumptions myself. There was a point in my journey where I didn’t know what to do next – I had lost the weight I wanted, I had tried so many ways of working out, but found myself still unhappy staring at straight up and down sides, without shape. 

Curiosity led me to find inspirational women online, working out with weights,  finding confidence and becoming empowered to think about their body in a new way. When I found the right coach, everything clicked.  I was doing the right weights, with the right guidance, and the right frequency and I started to notice the change within weeks. My body shape started to show signs of a new shape, and even “sculpting”.  I got compliments that I was looking healthy. Most importantly, I felt it. 

I smile looking back at my progress-tracking photos which, at first, featured which ever pants I could find (and scarily high on the grey big knicker scale!) to suddenly not being scared to look at myself in a thong and feeling sexy and strong as I did it! Just three workouts a week with weights, saw me go from lost to loving my newfound confidence. 

Sometimes small steps in the right direction have a knock-on effect which has a much broader impact in our lives. Weights did this for me.

It transformed my relationship with food as I felt a stronger connection between the quality of what I was eating and the quality of results I was getting. My mental health improved. Focusing on weights as my training partner, made my workouts more meditative and gave me the mental break I needed to start to put the right priority on my fitness and wellness. 

Suddenly I stopped obsessing about whether I was losing or gaining weight and started understanding my body in terms of its power and strength. 

My newfound body confidence tipped over into how I interacted at work. Before focusing on my personal training, I directed events and often my hesitation on whether I could lift something, to support set-up, slowed down my time-pressed team who were trying to achieve set-up in another land-speed record! Instead, my empowered mindset saw me dig in and lift whatever and whenever it was needed. I felt more comfortable in myself and in flow at work. This kind of “functional fitness”, empowering us with the ability to stay confident and strong whatever life throws at us, is one of my favourite benefits of working with weights. I love seeing my clients body confidence increase at work, as parents and in their sport. 

Our bodies always surprise us in terms of the strength we hold and can develop. Working with weights also enables me to keep challenging myself and my clients to find new methods of functional fitness to support our fitness goals. However and why-ever you work out, weights can help you level up your training and support your goals. My website contains more blog features on my experience and how I can help. 

I am now dedicated in my PT work to helping other women on this journey. I believe it is truly time that we felt that weights were as accessible and easy to work with as any form of training. I hope, as an industry, we can work together to level up the number of female trainers so that we all have more role models to understand and find support in our weight training. Having the right trainer for me was an un-lock; I hope you find yours. The SWELL Fitness team are working with trainers who hope to bring weight training for women to the main stage of fitness on their SWELL HUB so watch this space. 

Let’s light up those dark gym corners, let’s help every woman know that weights are for them, weights are fun and we can lift more than we think. We can indeed lift one another up, in confidence, in strength and empowerment. 

I hope my journey and reflections inspire you to try working with weights. I recently delivered a class at the Wellbeing by the Lakes festival showing how progressing from 0 – 10 kg with the water weight of the SWELL FIT BAG, can be an amazing first step. 

The team’s are available to answer any questions and you can find me on @rachel_howard_strength_beyond and

I hope you find your strength... it’s right there. 

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