“The more you sweat in training, the less you bleed in combat”

Weightlifting?! Won’t I get all muscly, have massive biceps and look like a man?!

Well, no actually.

Strength training and body building are two very different things. Doing some strength training with weight will improve fitness without piling on unwanted muscle mass.

I’ve come to realise that it’s not gaining muscle mass that should scare me, it’s being weak and wasting training time on activities that aren’t really benefitting me on adventures. 

In the past I, like most women, have fallen victim to the stagnant gym routine that does little more than burn off yesterday’s Jaffa Cakes.  If I was working out then chances are I’d barely break a sweat. But, all that changed a while ago on a quest to reach optimum fitness for my adventures (next one to be revealed). I  shook up training and, since then, good old fashioned pumping iron has firmly found its place.

I train for adventure so I’m physically strong and mentally confident. This translates to independence and enables me to deal with challenging situations. It’s a bit of a cycle; the harder I push in training the more I believe my body can handle demanding environments and situations – so I push harder.

There’s four specific exercises I’ve been working that have helped me hugely and will benefit whoever adds them to their workout:

  1. Deadlift

The all-time number one, full body exercise. Every time you pick something off the floor – a box, a shopping bag or even a kid – you’re doing a deadlift. It has to be the most functionally useful exercise going. Although cited by some as potentially dangerous for the back, if it’s executed with proper technique the deadlift will give massive benefits to almost all areas of the body from shoulders, lats, spinal muscles and abs, to arms, quads, hamstrings and glutes.

  1. Squats

Another great exercise that not only works the thighs and bum but is also great for the core, especially if done with a weight held overhead. Mixing up variations with barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells or just body weight as well as doing moves like lunges or box jumps will work wonders for your running or cycling ability. This is one i’ve particularly struggled with as my hip flexors are quite tight but I’ve been progressively improving my form and doing extra stretches (pigeon pose is good for this), and am starting to feel the benefits.

  1. Press ups/bench press

Some upper body work will give you strength in your arms, chest and shoulders and doing different press up variations is great for the core too. If full press ups are too hard (I can do 5 at the moment!), scale it pack by dropping your knees to the floor. Bench presses can be done with barbells or dumbbells; you could also try doing them on an inflatable exercise ball to add a bit more of a challenge.

  1. Pull ups

OK – this might seem like a bit of a tall order but if you can manage pull ups, you’re working pretty much every muscle in your upper body. Work up to them by taking a bit of body weight off using a foot on a chair, a spotter if you have a friend with you, or by using a lat pulldown machine. Obviously great for rock climbing strength, pull ups really give me a sense of achievement and progress when I  actually manage to do them!

Doing these four exercises a couple of times a week will get you ready for whatever big adventures you have planned for the summer. Good luck.