Strength training tips from a Powerlifting World Medallist

I recently interviewed Pelin Baykal, a Powerlifting GB World Medallist on IG Live. 

Pelin only took up Powerlifting in her 40s after going through a period of depression. we discussed the importance of strength training for women in peri and post menopause, the lessons she learned from competing and tips for us mere mortals to make strength training accessible in our workouts. You can watch the interview here and below are the key takeouts:

  • Train smart – Know your goal, make it realistic and stay consistent with your training rather than trying to do too much too soon.  Ideally have an expert help create a programme and ensure good form from the start to keep you safe and build with patience over time.  
  • The benefits of strength training go beyond building muscles. Lean muscle increases our metabolic basal rate – the rate at which we burn calories.  This rate naturally slows as we get older so it’s important to give it a reboot with strength training.  Plus adding resistance to our bones is what builds them.  We lose both muscle mass and bone density as we age so strength training reverses this.
  • It’s hard to get bulky – lots of women worry about getting bulky if they do strength training yet it’s actually very hard to build lean muscle due to the number of variables involved such as genetics/nutrition/hormones etc.  
  • Progressive load is the safest way to start and allow the body to adapt over time.  Start with where you feel comfortable and safe ideally with your own body weight first then increase load progressively. ‘Load’ can include water bottles/tins/light weights/resistance bands etc and if you increase gradually over time you’ll avoid injury.
  • We need to ensure we have strong joints as well as strong muscles to keep our muscles safe as we load weights.  Pilates/yoga etc are great cross-training techniques to keep the joints mobile, supple and strong.  
  • We need to get to an 8 out of 10 level of fatigue for muscles to be loaded enough that they strengthen. We want lots of variety want to avoid the body plateauing.  There are many variables we can use to achieve this beyond just lifting heavier weights such as:
    • Number of repetitions in a set
    • Number of sets
    • Length of rest between sets
    • Work against a timer
    • Vary the muscles used in each session vs sticking to one or two muscles 
    • Challenge core and balance by destabilising the position eg lifting one leg in standing strength work
  • The mind is just as important as the body – if your head is busy and distracted 100kg can feel like 200kg. Competitive powerlifters have to learn to be in the moment, free from distraction, to make the weight feel lighter.   
  • To build muscles we need to eat well, rest well and sleep well too

#strengthtraining #resistancetraining #powerlifting #pilates

Published by ZenergyActive

I’m passionate about strengthening and balancing mind and body to help peri to post menopausal women feel brilliant. I offer Pilates, Barre Fitness and my menopause management programme - Menopause 360°

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