Krissy Cela is a firm advocate of strength training for women, but she also wants to empower them with the skills and knowledge to be strong and confident in everyday life.
What began as self-development – with Krissy filming and posting herself doing strength exercises online so she could watch them back and tweak her technique – has transformed into a global empire with an app, two books and an apparel line.
The global fitness influencer and self-confessed cardio bunny now has three million followers on Instagram and is passionate about promoting the benefits of weights training. ‘Strength training has massively evolved among women over the last few years and when I was posting on social media about six to seven years ago, it was such a taboo,’ she says.
‘People would say, “You’re going to look manly,” or “get bulky” and, “It’s weird girls being in the weights section.” Now there’s a whole generation of women who use weights. Our mums and grandmas used to do Weight Watchers and a s*** load of cardio, but the next generation has mums who are strong and powerful. Women have developed confidence in the gym and now see training as a form of self-care.
‘They’re investing in bright-coloured apparel and matching trainers to boost motivation. They are wearing beauty products like hair oils during their workouts and celebrating with pre- and post-workout nutritious drinks.’ The hashtag #strongisthenewskinny on Instagram now has more than 1.7 million posts, so it’s a movement that’s gaining huge traction. As an early strength training influencer, Krissy feels proud. ‘If I can inspire just one woman to pick up weights and move, then it’s an incredible feeling.
‘I used to be so aesthetically led, but now I realise it’s not about how I look, it’s about how I perform.’
Strength training is now widely accepted as an essential part of a woman’s workout programme.
The NHS advises strengthening activities for adults that work all the major muscle groups – legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms –on at least two days a week. However, according to Nuffield’s Healthier Nation Index, almost half of British women have done no vigorous exercise in the last 12 months.
The data also showed that women were more likely to report barriers to exercise, with 55 per cent highlighting a lack of time.
Krissy’s latest programme, Strong Express, is aimed at those with busy lifestyles who want to do an effective workout as quickly as possible. Only dumbbells are used and workouts last 30 minutes. ‘I could easily spend an hour in the gym and faff about, but with the right moves and the right intensity, you can go a long way,’ she says.
Strength training builds muscle mass and muscle increases metabolic rate, so you burn more calories at rest. It also makes you stronger, helping with everyday tasks such as picking up the kids and carrying shopping bags, thus reducing your risk of injury.
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Physiological benefits include lowering cholesterol levels, improving heart health and helping to manage blood sugar levels. It also builds bone density and improves your posture.
Krissy is a big fan of foundational moves and compound exercises. ‘Foundational moves are things like push, pull squat, hinge and lunge and these are important as they set the foundation for everything else,’ she says.
‘Compound exercises use these foundation moves in things like squats, lunges, shoulder press and deadlifts. They access multiple muscle groups and joints at the same time which means you are exerting more energy and building more power.
‘I always advise progressing through these with rep ranges, but you can also create hybrids of them such as a reverse lunge with a bicep curl. Once you have laid the foundation it’s time to build strength and you continue to use effective compound moves but with heavier weights and a lower rep range to build power.’
KRISSYS TOP 3 TIPS
Warm up dynamically: ‘When you’re warming up dynamically you’re lubricating your joints, muscles and ligaments. You’re getting the blood flowing and you’re waking the body up.’
Control your reps: ‘Form is everything. When you slow a movement down, you’re more able to understand where muscles are contracting and how and where it’s meant to feel. Focus on form over speed.’
Stick to compound exercises: ‘These mean your body is moving as a solidified unit and you exert more energy. Do them right at the beginning of your session when you have the most energy and leave isolation exercises to the end.
Strength training is no quick fix and Krissy says fitness is a journey that takes time and dedication. Having changed the name of her Tone and Sculpt app to EvolveYou, to fit better with her ethos, she says strength training should be looked at as a two-part system.
‘We were telling women to look after themselves mentally and physically but the words “tone” and “sculpt” are heavily physically led. Not only can strength training help stabilise your body and core, it can help with joint movement, the muscular system and the nervous system. But it also builds consistency, resilience and discipline.
‘If anyone ever tells you their fitness journey was easy, or that it happened with a smile on their face, then they’re lying,’ she says. ‘Mine certainly didn’t. We just need to get more women into the mindset that they don’t need to be jumping around to burn calories.’
Krissy’s Strong Express programme is available now on the EvolveYou app. Membership from £7.50 per month
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