Strength training for women: Assal Arian’s tips to make you stronger

Anyone who works out regularly knows that there’s more to a workout than just physical strength. Rather, you also have to muster the mental strength to concentrate on the sport and pull through the sweaty exercises. Strength training in particular requires a lot of focus and concentration. Women in particular are often skeptical about training with heavy weights. Where is the best place to start and how do you best train your mental strength? We talked to Assal Arian, former weightlifter and Peloton Strength Instructor, about (mental) strength.

Strong mind, strong body: How to become (mentally) stronger – Interview with Assal Arian

Dear Assal, what do you prefer to train: endurance or strength – and why?

Assal Arian: “I love to train both, but if I had to choose, it would be strength training; whether with the barbell, dumbbells or bodyweight.
 I just love to see what my body is capable of and am fascinated by the diversity and variety of weight training. There are so many different exercises and combinations that can be modified by technique, tempo and range of motion and I use them differently in my daily work at Peloton.

Strength training has taught me personally a lot more than just fitness in life. I’ve seen what my body is capable of, how perseverance and consistency has brought me to my goals, sometimes slowly, yet surely. How unimportant some events are and how important others are. Through weight training, I have come to look at my body through different eyes and have learned to appreciate and honor it. Strength training is not fast paced, it takes some time, continuity and dedication, but accordingly gives you more than you can imagine!”

As a newbie to strength training, where and how is the best place to start?

“It’s best to have a trainer, a training plan and a training program. You should learn strength exercises, whether with weight or just bodyweight, ideally from someone who knows and can relate to the novice’s situation. That way, as a newbie, you can fully concentrate on the execution, the technique. If you learn everything right from the beginning, you’ll see great progress very quickly. Some like to train in a group, some alone at home. Ask yourself what you basically prefer and start with that without thinking much about it. Going down new and as yet unknown paths may seem a little scary at first because you don’t yet know what will follow. But I can only encourage everyone here to give in to it with an open mind and just make a decision and give it a try. The fun is guaranteed!”

How much mental strength do you need in (strength) training?

“No more than with any other thing in life. Training takes more curiosity and consistency than mental toughness. This comes as a gift once you start. Personally, strength training has taught me a lot of self-confidence and respect for my body. Strength training helps you see and appreciate your mental strength. You will see how your body and mind unite and develop, how your nervous system, breathing and muscles connect and catapult you to accomplishments in life that you never thought you could do. Most of all, you’ll feel strong and comfortable in your body because you’ll realize how much you can rely on it and its performance.”

How do you train your inner strength?

“I always take the hard road in life and always make it my mission to tread new and unknown paths, to do something for the first time, and to make decisions that no one in my circle or acquaintances has made before. I’d rather risk more and possibly fail at something than risk nothing and stay in monotony. I make “failure” my friend and see everything as a lesson and task that I master with joy. I deal with inner strength the same way I deal with physical strength. I set goals for myself, repeat what I have learned almost daily until it becomes second nature. I trust in time and in the process, but most of all I enjoy the journey to my destination and then celebrate my results.”

What do you do when you run out of (mental) power?

“I look at what I have experienced in life and how I have developed. I look at it this way: there are only ever upgrades in life and things only ever get better. When I feel like I’m running out of mental strength, I always think of a phrase that has often gotten me through tough times: ‘Breakdowns always lead to Breakthroughs.’ When things get tough in life, I remind myself that all challenges in life are the greatest gifts because they will teach us the most and most important things in life. Regardless, I recharge my mental batteries by spending time alone with myself and people who give me strength. I do things that I know will always make me feel better afterwards and reward myself with a workout, spend time with friends who give me joy, warmth and strength, listen to a lot of music and read.”

What can I do today for my inner strength and my physical strength?

“Today is always the perfect time to make a change in your life and do something good for yourself and, in turn, others. Whether it’s an indoor workout, a fitness class or an outdoor workout … There are so many great ways to work out while having fun and getting to know yourself and your body in a new way. Peloton also plays an important role in this for me – here I am both a trainer and part of a community that also continuously motivates me. When you start with physical strength, inner strength is not far away. I see mental and physical strength as a terrific team and a perfect unit that have a loving relationship with each other and need each other to experience and achieve greatness. Once you start strengthening your body, it unconsciously projects what you learn to your inner strength and you discover new ways that will take you to your personal goals.”

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