Alicia Vikander lifts them. So does Gal Gadot. Even Elyse Knowles swears by them. But the common rhetoric among women remains: weights will make you big. Huge, in fact.


Females have long feared the weights room. Juiced-up, thickset, burly, brawny, muscly men pumping iron. It’s intimidating, to say the least. But meaty men aside, there is another problem which plagues the weights room; this connotation of bulk and ‘bigness’. It’s a narrative which has long beset the female fitness industry, and in turn spawned this culture of fear amongst girls and women. The story goes something lime this: “If I do weights, I’ll get big.” Wrong, according to one of Sydney’s leading personal trainers (and celeb favourite), Matt Best. “It’s amazing that even now, in 2018, I hear that lifting weights or heavy weights will make girls bulky,” says Best. “This just isn’t the case. You can be super lean and super strong, it’s about choosing the right exercises in the right sequence patterns. It’s also about understanding.”

Here, Best explains why you should be pumping iron. Arnie, eat your heart out.

Why should we be doing weights as apposed to Cardio?
I advise my clients to do a combination of cardio and weight training as it’s good for us raise our heart rate through exercise. What I try and do is re-educate a mind set that cardio means burning fat and weights means simply building muscle. This just isn’t the case. Weight training uses a different energy system in the body to aerobic cardio so you’ll be burning fat long after a weights session has finished. This is in contrast to going out for a jog where as soon as you stop running your body stops burning calories. I design my programs with my clients around the type of cardiovascular exercise we do. If we sprint for example you are using the same energy system as weight training. You will burn more fat in 10-15 mins of sprint intervals then you will get in a hour of jogging. You will work your abs and your glutes, too. Have you ever seen a sprinter with bad abs or glutes?

The benefits to weight training are endless, we were evolved to be able to lift and move heavy things. The more lean muscle you carry the more your body will burn fat when at rest, you’ll actually be burning more when doing nothing. You will sleep better and you will get a bigger hit of serotonin, our happy hormone that you get from cardio. With rates of depression and anxiety higher then ever, we have in weight training a real way to help combat it. When we train using weights it also affects the synapses in our brain, whereby they work more efficiently. This means your ability to reason, think rationally and make informed decisions is better after weight training.

What are the types of weights females should be doing?
It’s amazing that even now, in 2018, I hear that lifting weights or heavy weights will make girls bulky. This just isn’t the case. You can be super lean and super strong. It’s about choosing the right exercises in the right sequence patterns. It’s also about understanding. Why am I standing is this body position to squat? What muscles is it targeting? From confidence comes empowerment and from this we can feel strong and connected to our bodies. The problem is you have so many people feeling uninspired, performing endless squats across classes, gyms and home workout programs. They are probably only feeling their quads, no glute engagement and often even knee pain. In Sculptation, I try and explain to my clients where they should be feeling things on a given exercise, and why we are doing it. If they trust the process and the movement, they can be confident to lift heavy when appropriate and achieve amazing results in their workouts.

When should you be doing it, and for how long?
You should be carrying out a strength based workout at least 2-3 times a week for a period of 45-60 mins. There is no right or wrong answer to what time of day. Often its about what is possible over preference given our busy lives. Also have the confidence to decide what works best for you. Don’t train in the morning if thats really not for you and you’re able to train later. Its about you, how you feel. I love training and I try and promote and encourage how it is a gift to use the bodies we have been given. Our bodies are the most valuable and precious thing we will ever own, so its of fundamental importance that we keep it strong and healthy and that we feel connected to it.

Can you please explain why it’s important not to smash the body, so to speak, with cardio?
It’s so important to understand why you are doing something, what is it actually achieving. I am a very instinctual person and in Sculptation I try and work with my clients to help them understand their body, to listen to it, to work with it. For example, if you’re looking to develop and sculpt the shape of your glutes, hours of jogging probably isn’t going to help. It may actually work counter productively and take the shape away. I promise you less often really is more if you’re doing the right thing. Its always quality over quantity. It’s not just about smashing yourself in cardio it applies to strength training or any workout really. I have spoken with so many people who attend endless high intensity training classes and often come out feeling worse or injured.

If I’m not feeling like heavy hip thrusts, squats or deadlifts when I turn up for my workout, I simply won’t do them. These are nervous system taxing exercises and if I’m a little run down, tired or not feeling my strongest, then these types of movements will have a negative effect on me. I apply this same philosophy with my clients and wont make them perform an exercise if they are not in the right place physically or mentally to do it. It doesn’t mean we cant train, but that we are fluid and dynamic and are able to change course in a workout if needed. The body is a maze of wonders and in Sculptation we have so many different ways we are able to test, strengthen, engage and ultimately sculpt our bodies in the way we want.

Tile and Cover Image: Instagram, @adrianalima