Derval O'Rourke: Upping your weights and strength training game

— and salmon and prawn skewers make a light and lean meal that's perfect for the summer
Derval O'Rourke: Upping your weights and strength training game

It’s the strength side of things that I’ve kept up more than anything

We are well and truly into summer now. I’m in the middle of a five-week healthy lifestyle challenge called Summer Stride. I have combined pilates with strength training for the next few weeks. Training as a professional athlete meant I relied on a range of different exercise techniques to keep my body strong and powerful to allow me to run the fastest times. 

Since retiring, one of the questions I get asked most often is ‘Do you still run?’ The honest answer is that although I love to run, it’s the strength side of things that I’ve kept up more than anything. If I’m pinched for time and have to choose, strength training wins out. This week I’m sharing the reasons why I like to keep strong.

This week’s recipe is my Salmon & Prawn Skewers — a light and lean meal, perfect for the summer.

Why you should aim to include strength training in your exercise regime

Strong bones: A lot of health and fitness goals tend to be aesthetic and often overlook our skeleton, however, osteoporosis is on the rise and the worrying thing is that it’s a ‘silent’ disease and often you don’t notice anything until it’s too late. Lifting weights can help to improve your bone density. When women hit menopause, we are more at risk of osteoporosis than men — so it’s really important to try and increase bone density.

Body Confidence: Weightlifting is an effective form of exercise that gives you the tools to sculpt your body and build curves in all the right places. Personally, I like to look strong and fit. Weights get me the best results to achieve this. If it’s ‘gains’ you are looking for then using weights is key.

Everyday functionality: Having a strong body that can carry you through life is so important. It allows you to carry your shopping to the car, run around the garden after your kids, and function each day. Strength training will make you an all-round stronger, more functional, and healthier person — I want to be able to move well throughout my life, and weights is really beneficial to that.

Supports other forms of training: Strength training builds a strong foundation and the strength you need to enhance other training. Most of the really good runners I know are also really good at strength exercises.

How to get started with strength training

You don’t need fancy weights or equipment to have a good session or to start weight training. A bag of flour, tins of food, a backpack, can all be used for this. Resistance bands are an inexpensive way to start weight training too.

Fitness Tip: Aim to incorporate weight training into your life this week. It might be a small 10- minute circuit, but it will be an amazing start which can be the hardest part.

Wellness Tip: Write down your summer goals — how do you want to feel in a few months? I know I want to feel happy, healthy & just well overall. Writing down your goals and targets will help to make your summer goals achievable.

Salmon and prawn skewers

recipe by:Derval O'Rourke

For a light summertime supper that combines sharp peppers, courgette and chunks of salmon, try these skewers oven-roasted or on the barbecue

Salmon and prawn skewers



Preparation Time

10 mins

Cooking Time

10 mins

Total Time

20 mins




  • 500g salmon, diced

  • 16 large tiger prawns, peeled and deveined

  • 1 yellow pepper, chopped into large chunks

  • 1 courgette, coined

  • 8 long wooden/metal skewers, soaked in water

  • 3 tbsp rapeseed oil

  • 1 lemon, juiced

  • 1tsp sea salt

  • 1tsp cracked black pepper


  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C or light the barbecue.

  2. Load the skewers with the fish, prawns and vegetables, ensuring everyone gets the same amount in a small bowl. Whisk together the oil, lemon, salt and pepper dressing.

  3. Brush the skewers with the dressing.

  4. If you're cooking in the oven: Place the skewers on a lightly greased tray and cook in the oven for 10-15 minutes. Turn the skewers halfway through to ensure even cooking and brush with more dressing.

  5. If you're using a barbecue: Place the skewers on the barbecue and cook for 10-15 minutes. Continuously marinade with dressing and turn regularly so they don’t stick to the grill.

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