- Exercise & Fitness
Weight Training Guide for Women
Don't Be Afraid To Lift
Losing weight and gaining muscle involves so much. You need to eat clean, healthy and properly. In addition, you need to workout. You need to move your body in order to tone up your body, but one of the most important ways to shape your body--especially as a Woman is to weight train. Building muscle is ESSENTIAL. I repeat, BUILDING MUSCLE IS ESSENTIAL. I can not stress that enough.
As a woman, I know some, not all, of you ladies out there are intimidated by what I call "The Testosterone Zone." However, let's get in that zone right along with the men. There's nothing to fear, but flab itself. So, now, let's lift some iron and gain that lean muscle that will tone you up!
First and foremost, do not be afraid to get in there. I am going to guide you through on how to get into the weight area confident, strong and knowledgeable enough to attain and maintain your fitness goals.
One of the first steps is to admit you don't know a thing about weightlifting. Secondly, use that to your advantage and find out. Ask for help. If you have a gym membership, I'm quite sure every gym has someone that can provide assistance with every piece of machinery including the free weights, and other relevant weight training equipment. So, there, that's solved. Once you are confident in the space you are using to lift, then sky is the limit.
Why Do I Need To Lift Weights?
The fastest and most effective way of changing your body is strength training. Cardio and good eating habits will allow you to be fit and healthy, but in order to tone and sculpt your body you must lift weights; be it your own, free weights or machine equipment.
Strength training basically gives you more bang for your buck. Ladies, do not be intimidated, fearful or turned off by the weight area; instead embrace it!
Weight training will help you develop a sleeker overall body by hitting the weights regularly. With the right program, you will preserve bone mass; which is essential in preventing osteoporosis, more muscle means a faster metabolism and studies also show that it can help you against having high blood pressure and other weight related illnesses. In addition, it will help elevate your mood, energy-levels and combat stress.
Why Weight Training Works
In my experience with weight training, no other exercise form has made me feel so empowered and stronger than actually lifting my own weight and seeing my overall abilities improve over time. However, the first obstacle to overcome, in order to make it work, is getting out of your comfort zone.
Pushing your body to the next level is what will make weight training successful for you and eventually "overloading" your muscles is what will bring this change. Why? Because when you overload your muscles it causes them to react and stimulate. With that, they grow stronger.
The best way to overload is by using a progressive approach. Have you ever heard of the term "Slow and Steady" well, that's what you do with this approach. You increase the resistance each time an exercise is no longer challenging enough which forces your muscles to respond and develop.
There are other variables that will assist and make weight training a very efficient way of creating that physique you are meant to have:
- Number of Sets and Reps: Reps or repetitions is a complete run through of a particular exercise, including the lifting and lowering. The number of reps you execute can have a notable effect on your results. Studies recommend an average of 8 to 12 reps. However, make sure to use enough weight on the last rep for muscle fatigue to stimulate growth. This is key. Vary the reps and sets. Go for 6 to 8 reps on Monday and finish on Friday with 12 reps; then repeat the cycle.
- Weight-load: Choosing the amount of weight usually happens through trial and error and that's fine. If you are just getting started, choose a weight that is comfortable for you to complete at least 8 reps. If it's too easy, then increase the weight; too hard, decrease the weight--simple. As you notice that it's getting easier, as your progress, then change the weight again. You may change the weight for some exercises, but not for all. Make note and adjust accordingly.
- Exercise Selection: The key here is BALANCE. Perform one exercise for each major muscle group:, upper body, back, shoulders, biceps, triceps, glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, abs and lower back. Beginners, don't overwhelm yourself. Pick one or two exercises and master them before moving on. Write it down and keep track of it. This will help you and motivate you to progress further or adjust accordingly. Use a variety of free weights, cable equipment, multi and single joint exercises as well as machines. Do not confine yourself in the box-come out the box!
- Exercise Order: One of my favorite compound exercises (uses more than one muscle group and joint) to start off with is the bench press. This works your upper body, biceps, triceps, back and shoulders all in one movement. Then move on to an isolation (uses only one muscle group and joint) type movement, such as a pec flye (lay flat on a bench with dumbbells out to the side and bring arms together), Incorporating both types will save you time and allow you to have a full body workout.
- Workout Frequency: Time is always of the essence in our hectic, busy lives so I know you are asking yourself, "How often do I strength train?" My answer to that, in my experience, and what the studies show is at least twice a week on non-consecutive days for 20 to 30 minutes. Aim to target each muscle group as listed above. Devote the other days to your cardio routines. But, stick to your two days of weight training for that lean, cut look you want.
Routine 1: Full Body
This routine will help you if you are at a beginner or intermediate level. The frequency here is for 2 to 3 days a week.
If you do not have a lot of experience or are simply in a major time crunch, this workout routine is for you and provides a full body conditioning program since it focuses on NOT overwhelming the muscles and you get plenty of "off" days for much needed recovery:
SAMPLE Full body workout schedule:
Day 1: FULL BODY: Chest, shoulders, back, arms, abs, quads, hamstrings/glutes and calves.
Day 2, 4, 6, 7: Off (Use these days to incorporate your cardio routines)
Day 3: Full Body
Day 5: Full Body
For a list of exercises go to www.bodybuilding.com.
Routine 2: Upper/Lower Body
This routine is a split between the upper and lower body and works for those that want to take it up a notch into the intermediate levels. The frequency here is a 2 to 4 day split.
As the name of the routine suggests, you do an upper body session (chest, shoulders, back, arms) and then a lower body session (quads, hamstrings, gluteals and calves) on different days. The most common method used here is the every-other-day method, where you are training three times a week and pick back up where you left off the preceding week.
SAMPLE UPPER/LOWER BODY WORKOUT SCHEDULE: 3 DAY SAMPLE
Day 1: Upper
Day 2, 4, 6, 7: Off
Day 3: Lower
Day 5: Upper
Start the following week with the Lower Body .
Concerns Women Have
Like I mentioned before, many woman feel intimidated by weight training. I know I did! But, once I learned the facts, asked for help (very important) and saw the results, I knew it was going to be part of my fitness routine.
So, before you hit the weights with my suggestions let me answer some of your concerns:
- Will I get bulky? ABSOLUTELY NOT! We do not have enough testosterone to grow huge muscles. Even most men can't create those body builder muscles without either extreme heavy lifting for several hours a day and unfortunately many may use steroids. In addition, many have very, very low body fat so their muscles look even bigger.
- Can I achieve muscle definition? Yes, by using an appropriately designed strength routine, but always keep in mind that in order to get that "cut-look" you must also decrease the layer of fat covering the muscle. Lifting aides fat loss by burning calories and maintaining or even increasing your metabolic rate. But, don't let go of your cardiovascular routine since it's essential in creating that calorie deficit needed to properly aid in weight loss and maintenance. Combine both strength and cardio training and never forget to burn more calories than you eat!
- Why do beginners gain more strength? This is due to the fact that novice lifters, at first, make gains in skill and coordination. Therefore, spending a lot of time on just lifting and keeping the weight steady. As you progress, you can put all your mind capacity into just doing the move without hesitation. This links your brain and muscles and allows them to process information faster; as a result your muscles are pros at that point.
How To Get Moving From Here
The old adage says, "Knowledge is Power!" and I tend to agree. Now that you have some form of comprehensive instruction or guide to start your training, why not get it going?
It's all up to you now to take this knowledge and put it to use. Perhaps you've been frustrated with your current status quo. Perhaps you've been curious to use the weight area. Perhaps you've been wanting to feel more empowered, stronger, leaner and balanced. The time is now!
Despite your fitness experience, use this guide to get started, back on track or get going on your weight training goals. Successful training depends on consistency, trial and error and awareness. The techniques and suggestions stated here are all tried and true, but it all depends on your attitude and willingness to adopt a new program or element into your routine and keep at it. In the long run you will be amazed, pleased and excited about how your body feels and looks!
Now, go and START NOW.