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Get Muscle Mass with Strength Training

Updated on December 2, 2014

Women and men both lose lean muscle mass with age. But since women generally have less muscle mass to start with, it's especially important for them to maintain what they have and perhaps even increase muscle mass somewhat with resistance training.

Many women worry that weight training will produce big, bulky, masculine muscles. But in fact, women don't have enough testosterone for such muscle growth. The huge muscles seen on female bodybuilders are the result of an extreme training program and often, some form of anabolic supplement. For most women, a sensible resistance training program will tone and strengthen muscles, increase bone density, improve balance and flexibility, build stamina, and decrease body fat.

Get Strong Arms

Major muscle groups for women
Major muscle groups for women
Major muscle groups for men
Major muscle groups for men

Getting Started

Plan to do resistance training for 30 to 60 minutes, two to three times a week, leaving a day or two between workouts so your body can recover. ‘Resistance' can take many forms, from exercise machines to dumbbells, elastic bands or tubing, medicine or stability balls, or your own body weight. Choose the equipment that works best for you.

If you enjoy going to a fitness center, ask a trainer to show you how to use the weight machine circuit. If you prefer working out at home, consider investing in some tubing. But no matter what you do, it's important to learn the proper form for every exercise to gain the maximum benefits and avoid injury.

Your routine should include exercises that target each major muscle group-chest, back, abdominals, hips, legs, and arms (see box at left). Using your own body weight can be a good way to start. Squats give many of the benefits of a gym's leg press, leg extension, and leg flexion machines all in one, by strengthening the large muscles in the front and back of the legs, as well as the buttocks. Pushups give the benefits of chest presses, bicep curls, and tricep extensions; they increase upper body strength, particularly in the chest, the front of the shoulders, and the arms, and they also work the abdominal muscles and hip flexors.

Resistance bands are also a good option. For example, you can use a resistance band to do lat pulldowns, which strengthen the mid-back muscles, or chest presses to strengthen the pectoral muscles and front of the shoulders.

Eat Right

It's also important to follow a healthful diet. A study presented in November 2009 showed that eating foods rich in vitamins C and E, such as citrus fruits, nuts, and seeds, was positively associated with preserving muscle strength in older adults. The authors say the findings are one more reason to eat foods that contain antioxidants, but they advise against taking supplements, which may provide doses that are too high and could cause problems.

What you can do

• Before exercising, warm up for five minutes by doing an easy walk or jog while swinging your arms.
• Work your way up to eight to 12 repetitions of an exercise before increasing weight or adjusting a band's resistance upward; the last two repetitions of the set should feel somewhat difficult but not impossible to do.  
• Alternate body parts; for example, follow a leg exercise with an arm exercise.
• Learn and use proper form for every exercise to reap the most benefits and avoid injury.  

Woman of Strength

In this video, Aneta Florczyk from Russia is lifting 154lbs (70kg) of weight in each arm x 2 = 308lbs (140kg).


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    • ma45frost profile image

      ma45frost 6 years ago from USA

      Keaton, I agree with you! Persistence + protein intake is the key. Thanks for your comment.

    • profile image

      Keaton 6 years ago

      one can get his/her six pack from bodybuilding exercise. but the factor to determine how fast or how to build a good muscle comes from the food we eat. If we say persistency is crucial in bodybuilding, then protein intake is equally important in this context.

    • profile image

      pcolaspirit 6 years ago

      We all need effective conditioning

    • ma45frost profile image

      ma45frost 6 years ago from USA

      I'm glad you found this post informative. I do find resistance training work for me. Keep training until you see the result :)

    • Ally LetsLive profile image

      Ally LetsLive 6 years ago from United Kingdom

      Thanks a very informative post.. think I will be doing more resistance exercises again.. I found they really do work