- Exercise & Fitness
Weight Training for Women - Great Results With Quick, Easy, Simple Workouts For Added Strength And Weight Loss.
Weight Training For Women - What Can It Do For Me?
What is the single most effective way for a woman to take charge of the way she looks, quickly and healthily? You're asking me? Then I'd say, without hesitation or even thinking about it, 'weight training'.
Because it works.
You can't argue with success. Weight training - lifting free weights in the gym, after professional supervision and instruction - is the most effective way I know to shape your body and deal with any weight problem. Weight training for women is the easiest, fastest way for a woman to take charge of her body and the way she looks. Plus, it builds fitness and confidence at the same time.
Working Out - The Squat
Frantic? Read on...
Right now you're probably frantically trying to think of ways I could be wrong so you can get out of it, but if you're reading this because you're looking for a way to get in shape that works, read on. I might get a little evangelical about weight training, but that's only because I know how great it is.
And believe it or not, it's probably the easy option when it comes to exercise. Cardio works when you're trying to stay healthy and fit, but you can spend hip-grinding hours on a treadmill or a running track. And recent medical research shows that excessive cardio training isn't healthy at all.
Weight training just takes two sessions a week, each less than an hour long. And that includes the warm up beforehand, and the shower afterwards.
Weight Training For Women - First Steps
How do you start?
Carefully. I can't stress enough the need for professional instruction. You must ask a gym owner to help you create a workout plan, and also make sure they show you how to perform the exercises safely and effectively, both in terms of selecting the amount of weight you lift for various exercises, and the correct form. You'll be lifting heavy weights, and any accident could cause serious harm to you or someone close by. It pays to know exactly what you're doing before you start.
The Basic Exercises
What do you do?
I'd suggest a warm up - just a few minutes of cardio - followed by a bunch of basic whole body exercises, listed here: the SQUAT, the DEADLIFT, the BENCH PRESS, BENT OVER ROWS, and the SHOULDER PRESS. These five will work your whole body from top to bottom, and burn calories long after you've stopped doing them.
Get your trainer to show you how they are all performed, and find out what you can lift on each exercise. To build muscle and provide an effective workout, I suggest lifting 80% of the maximum weight you can handle for each exercise.
Note: Do NOT attempt to lift your weight cold. Before you lift your full weight on any exercise, make sure you do a warm up set with a lighter weight first. This will prevent any pulled muscles.
After your workout, cool down with some stretches before you hit the shower. This will help with the stiffness that might otherwise come later.
Do six repetitions (reps) of an exercise, call that one set and rest. The last rep of each set should be a bit of a struggle. If it's easy all the way through, add more weight. The idea is to do three sets of six reps for each exercise, keeping a record of the weight you lift in each case. This is so that later on, when your muscles begin to adapt and grow, and the workout gets a little too easy, you can start to increase the weight.
Weight Training For Women - Fast Results
How long does it take?
In a quiet gym with no queues, fifty minutes tops. And that includes a warm-up beforehand and a shower after. Do it twice a week with a couple of rest days between, and you'll see results within a month. Some trainers recommend three sessions a week, some people train every day on different body parts, but to start with, keep it simple until you build up strength and muscle. Two weekly sessions, each less than one hour; that's got to be worth a try, right?
Exercises for Women Only?
Some gyms might steer you towards 'women-friendly' exercises: light dumbbells, wrist weights, jigging about to techno music...
If they do that, go to a different gym. Wearing your joints out trying to keep up with some hyperactive dancercise instructor isn't the best way to go about it. They'll try to steer you towards light weights and high reps, telling you it'll 'tone' your muscles.
There's nothing wrong with this kind of training, except it's not very effective for what you're trying to do, which is to get lean, and toned, and strong. The best way to do that is to use the five simple compound exercises I listed: squat, deadlift, bench, rows, and press. These big compound movements are much better than machine or isolation exercises because they force you to work many muscles at the same time.
This kind of heavy training increases your muscle tone through the hypertrophy of the contractile proteins myosin and actin, the most dense components of skeletal muscle. The more dense your muscles, the harder and firmer you will appear.
There are two kinds of muscular growth, or hypertrophy: sarcoplasmic hypertrophy, which involves increased muscle glycogen storage, and myofibrillar hypertrophy which is an increase in myofibril size.
High rep/ low weight training promotes sarcoplasmic, or fluid hypertrophy. If you want to look lean and tight and toned, this is not the way to go.
Lift heavy. You're not a frail little flower. Well, maybe you are, but that doesn't mean you have to stay that way, and go through life asking men to open jars for you. Women can build functional strength the same way men do it.
Lean and Hungry?
Do I have to diet?
Heck no. You'll have to eat more, though you should be more careful about what you eat. Plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, lean meat and oily fish, and wholemeal bread should form the basis of your diet. Ease up on sugar and alcohol, and phase out unhealthy fats in favour of healthy alternatives. And that's about it. Don't deny your body what it needs to work properly. Starved is a bad look. Lean and toned, on the other hand, looks great.
If you're a sucker for fad diets and picky about what you eat, you're going to have a bad time. Don't work out then spoil all your hard work by eating like a bird. You'll just slow your recovery and feel bad. Your body is a machine that needs fuel. Give it the fuel it needs by eating a varied and healthy diet that includes carbohydrates, fats, protein, and plenty of water.
While regular exercise is an important part of getting lean and toned, eating enough good food is at least as important. You're building muscle, and you have to eat enough to make that happen.
Easy or What?
Weight traing for women - Is it really that simple?
Yup. If you work out consistently, in an organised way, good results happen pretty quickly. There are pitfalls lying in wait, but you can steer around them with a little common sense.
What can go wrong?
Overtraining, when you work too hard. It's easily done, and hard to spot. You wake up cranky, you can't concentrate, you pick up every bug going and you haven't got a good word for anyone. What happened? You trained too hard. Take two weeks off and get plenty of good food and rest.
Aphthous ulcers - you know, those little horrors you get in your mouth - are a sure sign you need to take a break.
Workout injuries can happen when you get too ambitious with the amount of weight you're lifting. While the idea is to slowly increase the amount of weight you lift in every exercise you do, in order to build more strength and muscle, the important word is 'slowly'. Keep testing your limits, but only add a little weight at a time. A little humility and an organised approach will keep you safe. Keep track of how much you can lift in each exercise.
If in doubt, take some weight off before you lift. In the past I've spent a whole weekend recovering from a gym session, or have been forced to cut a session short with a shoulder injury, all through lifting too heavy. Don't do it. Simple as that.
So what do you think?
Would you rather -
What are you waiting for?
Will I get all bulgy and muscly?
No. Women have different body chemistry to men, and you can't build muscle like we can, at least not without using steroids. You'll get lean and toned to start with. Then if you get a bit hardcore you'll start to slowly build muscle mass. It's not easy, and it doesn't happen overnight. If you think you're getting a bit scary, just ease up for a while.
Will my muscles turn to fat the moment I stop working out?
No. Muscle and fat are different kinds of tissue. If you stop working out, your muscles will slowly shrink back to their previous size. You won't put on any excess fat as long as you watch what you eat. (When you work out you have to eat more. If you stop working out, don't eat so much.)
As a woman, I'm intimidated by the male atmosphere of the gym. Will they leer at me?
Only if you pick the wrong kind of gym gear. Dress like Jamie Lee Curtis in 'Perfect' and you'll have a bad time. Dress like you mean business, in a T shirt and jogging bottoms, and you won't. Incidentally, if you use free weights and do squats, you're more likely to intimidate most of the men there, and also earn the respect of those few hardcore gym bunnies in the place who actually know what they're doing.
If you get any hassle at all - unsolicited offers of 'help', or any unwelcome attention - tell the manager.
I'm not as young as I used to be - should I forget the gym, bulk buy incontinence pants, wrap myself in tissue paper and wait for death?
Nope. Even after menopause, strength training will help maintain bone density and build your muscle mass, strength, and balance. It will offset sarcopenia, the natural muscle wastage that occurs as we age, and osteoporosis. It's NOT exercising that will age you.
So what am I waiting for?
I don't know. Get down to your local gym and book a taster session. Don't let the grunting put you off. Weight training for women is a great way to build a toned, healthy body. (And there are other perks too. When you've got a moment, Google 'workout induced orgasm'.)
Yeah, don't dress like this. And lift weights. Heavy weights.
Interested? Check these links out...
- No Sex Required: Women Have Orgasms at the Gym | Women Sexual Health & The Female Orgasm
Men: who needs 'em? A new online survey reveals many women have experienced exercise-induced orgasm and sexual pleasure, with many instances linked to multiple sets of abdominal exercises.
- Excessive Endurance Cardio Isn't Good For Your Heart
To protect and optimize your heart health, avoid too much endurance training and focus on high intensity interval training (HIIT) instead.
- Hardbody Girls, Fitness Babes and Girls With Muscle
This is what strong, beautiful women look like.