Thursday 22 March 2018

Siobhan Byrne: Time for a challenge: adding weights to workouts

Using weights will burn more calories and help strengthen muscles, says our fitness expert

Siobhan Byrne
Siobhan Byrne
Around the world 2
Around the world 3
Around the world 3
Bent over row with kettlebells 1
Bent over row with kettlebells 2
Curl 1
Curl 2
High pull with kettlebell 1
High pull with kettlebell 2
Alt kettlebell swing 1
Alt kettlebell swing 2
Alt kettlebell swing 3
Kettlebell fly 1
Kettlebell fly 2
Dumbbells and kettlebell

Siobhan Byrne

Welcome to week five of our eight-week challenge. We are over the halfway mark and by now you should definitely feel that your body is starting to get used to the workouts. Although it may still be challenging, now is the perfect time to look at changing things and making it a little tougher as your body starts to adapt.

I'm all for working out at home with just bodyweight exercises, but adding weights to your workouts at this stage will not only make the body work harder, thus helping to burn more calories, but will also help the muscles to strengthen further to give you a chance to develop a leaner look.

Strength training has so many benefits and overlooking adding in weights to your routine would only be a mistake.

Strength training can help guard against osteoporosis. While strengthening the muscles and tendons supporting the bone, the exercises will also help to strengthen the bone itself through certain movements.

Many people still have a belief that strength training will make you bulk up which, as we spoke about before, is a myth. There are only benefits to strength training.

Going by my own experience, I have had occasions when I couldn't train. My body would then feel so much weaker, my immune system would be lower and my energy levels would drop leaving me more susceptible to winter bugs. This isn't ideal if you have a busy life, which we all seem to lead these days.

Training definitely creates energy and releases endorphins to make you feel good. I have never met any client who hasn't said, after a number of weeks of training, that they were surprised by the increase in their energy levels.

Adding in weights to your routine at home can be easy and inexpensive, so you don't have to get to the gym.

If you have managed to stick to the programme so far then adding in some dumbbells and kettlebells to the exercises is a perfect way to start.

Remember to start light with just a couple of kilos in each arm. This will be sufficient and will allow you to vary your workout and isolate body parts that you may be unhappy with, like the arms, with exercises that will help specifically target these areas.

The following workout is with kettlebells but you can also use dumbbells if you prefer.

Week 5 of your workout plan

Dumbbells and kettlebell

Let's get started with the fifth week's exercises. Each week we are going to look at six exercises.

For this week I have picked the kettlebell fly, alternating kettlebell swing, curl, around the worlds, bent over row with kettlebells and high pull with kettlebell.

You will need to complete each exercise for 20 seconds before moving on to the next exercise and completing all six exercises in the same format.

Afterwards, pick one of the following cardio workouts, depending on your ability and fitness level, and complete this for two minutes.

Complete three more circuits of the exercises breaking each circuit with the same cardio workout.

Choose your cardio workout from:

* Two minutes of stair climbs or two minutes step-ups;

or choose

* Two minutes of jumping jacks;

or choose

* Two minutes of skipping with/without skipping rope.


Bent over row with kettlebells

1/ Start by bending forward with a straight back and your knees slightly bent, while holding kettlebells with straight arms with your palms facing inwards.

2/ Raise the kettlebells up to the sides of the chest and then lower them back down to the start position.

Alternating kettlebeg swing

1/ Start in a squat position holding a kettlebell with both hands between the legs with your arms straight.

2/ Stand up to a straight position and raise the kettlebell to just under your chin, keeping your elbows high. Return to start position.

Complete each exercise for 20 seconds before moving on to the next exercise. Complete all six exercises in the same format


1/ Stand upright holding the kettlebells by your sides with your arms straight and your palms facing in.

2/ Raise the kettlebells up to your shoulders, bending at the elbows. Do not turn at the wrists. Return to start position and repeat.

Around the world

1/ Start by stand upright holding a kettlebell in front.

2/ Hold the kettlebell in one hand and swing it around to the side of one hip.

3/ Then follow around your back, changing hands, in a circle until you come to the front again.

Kettlebell fly

1/ Lie on your back, with your knees bent, while holding a kettlebell of the same weight in each hand with your arms straight above your chest.

2/ Allow the kettlebells to lower out towards the floor keeping your arms slightly bent. Then raise the kettlebells to start position. Look at a rep range between 12-15.

High pull with kettlebell

1/ Start in a squat position holding a kettlebell in one hand between your legs, with your arm straight.

2/ Thrust your hips forward, swinging the kettlebell out and up to just over shoulder height with your arm straight and switch it to the other hand.

3/ Swing the kettlebell down in the other hand and repeat switching hands again at the top.

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