If you work out in a crowded gym, venturing to the free weight area may be intimidating. To make this easier you can recruit a friend to work out with you and you two can support and encourage each other. If you work out solo, load your favorite music onto your phone and listen to it while you train so you can focus on why you’re there and what you’re doing, and drown out everything else around you. You’ll still have to deal with the stench of stale sweat and cheap cologne, but at least you won’t have to hear men grunting as they flex in the mirror.

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And while cardiovascular exercises such as walking, jogging or biking are important for heart and lung efficiency, it is strength training that provides the benefits that keep your body younger, stronger and more functional as each year passes by. If you want to be vibrant and independent for many more years, this strength-training workout will help you achieve just that.
Start lying on your back, arms and legs extended. Tighten your abs, pressing your lower back into the floor as you do so. This should lift your legs off the floor; work to keep them straight. Lift your shoulder blades off the floor as well; keep extending your arms back as you do this. Do 4 reps. During Week 7, try to maintain the hollow hold for 40 seconds, then rest for 20. During Week 8, aim for 50-second holds, then rest for 10 seconds between reps. Can’t hold that long? Hold for as long as you can, then come out of the hold and get right back into it until time’s up.
If you are a woman and want to gain muscle and improve your shape and curves, then you are going to have to lift heavy weights. This means that instead doing endless reps with light weights, as the media often prescribes women to do, you need to lift some heavy weights and really challenge yourself! While performing high rep sets (15-20 reps) does have some benefit, it is not optimal to adding muscle mass.
Second, women may recover from training a bit faster than men (one, two, three).  When I’ve mentioned this in the past, the counterargument I typically hear is that women don’t create as much force, so of course their muscles won’t sustain as much damage, and will therefore recover faster.  However, that doesn’t make much sense when you think about it. For starters, I’m not aware of any evidence showing that people who are stronger or more muscular at baseline experience more muscle damage, more soreness, or larger/longer performance decrements than people who are weaker or less muscular, all else being equal.  More importantly, what each of your muscle fibers “feel” is the tension on that specific fiber; the contractile force of the entire muscle shouldn’t matter, as long as each fiber is being recruited to a similar degree and experiencing a similar amount of tension. I think the more likely explanation is that estrogen may exert a protective effect on muscle, limiting damage and potentially accelerating repair.
However, I am not stupid and I know that most moms just do not have that extra time to make it to the gym everyday-this is why I created my very own and affordable 12 week home workout program that uses barely ANY equipment! Instead, the program uses your bodyweight and one pair of dumbbells. It is absolutely perfect for busy mommies who want to workout when baby is asleep, for when it is super cold or super hot ouside, or just want to workout in the comfort of their own home.
To begin, hold a water jug in each hand and keep your arms straight by the sides of your body. Face away from the coffee table or chair. Prop one of your feet on a coffee table or chair so that your toes are resting comfortably on the surface. This is the starting position. One leg should be propped backward onto the coffee table or chair; the other leg should be straight.
Put simply, "strength training means using resistance to create work for your muscles," says Hannah Davis, C.S.C.S. and author of Operation Bikini Body. So even if your mind jumps straight to those hardcore machines and massive weights, there are a lot of ways to create this resistance that require minimal equipment (or none at all). Bodyweight workouts can be an incredibly effective way to strength train. Squats and push-ups FTW. You can also use tools like dumbbells, medicine balls, TRX bands, resistance bands, kettlebells, and slider disks, to help get the job done, explains Davis. But if that sounds like gibberish don't worry about it. Keep it simple and focus on equipment-free routines first. No matter what you do, the most important thing is to find something that challenges you, says Davis.
First, thank you SO MUCH for posting such amazing information! Second, I’m looking to start this 12 week beginner program and just wondering if the weight should be slightly increased between sets, or just week to week? I have previous lifting experience and we would up the weight in between each set, but haven’t lifted consistently in a few years so just curious what you recommend. Thank you!!
LINGUVIC: No. A resistance band is better than no band, and for some exercises it can be very effective, such as adductor and abductor work (your inner thighs), when you need to move your legs laterally. If you were on the road and all you had was a resistance band, that would be fine, but ideally you want to be able to increase the amount of weight you're using as you get stronger and there's no way to do that with one single band. If that's all you have, though, that's better than not using anything at all.
This entire site is awesome. I have very little fat on my body besides my boobs and butt, and I’ve been wondering whether I “need” cardio or not to help build muscle/tone since losing weight is not something I need or am interested in. It sounds like I do NOT, which is what I wanted to hear. I’m down with dancing around and walking around the block and doing cardio “naturally”, but treadmills and other machines bore me to death and always made me feel like a quitter. I’m so glad to know I can basically skip that crap and just focus on weight training. I’m going to send this article to every chick I know.
The second portion of this first strength training note is exercises that provide the greatest benefits, and this is equally important. A dumbbell biceps curl, for example, has a small learning curve, but it won’t provide the greatest results for your effort. A better choice would be a cable pulldown using a palms-up grip — this exercise works your biceps and your back; this makes pulldowns a better choice than curls. Not only do they work a lot of muscle mass, but they have a much greater loading potential (i.e., you can get much stronger and progress quicker).

The unfortunate problem with injury prevention is that no one seems to worry about it until they’re already injured or in pain.  On the surface, some women appear to be exceptionally strong, but upon closer inspection, they’re actually ticking time bombs for an injury because they never built a solid foundation of good movement before piling on the heavy weights.
"Exhale: Core Fusion--Pure Arms & Abs" is a gently flowing mix of Pilates, ballet, yoga and dance. "Pilates for Beginners with Kristen McGee" starts with Pilates toning basics and slowly adds more challenges, making it appropriate for beginner through intermediate-level exercisers. Bryan Kest's "Power Yoga" series includes a collection of three 50-minute intermediate to advanced power yoga workouts that tone, define and challenge your body to go beyond its comfort zone. Karen Voight's "Pilates Total Body Training" workout features Pilates-based routines that use a Pilates Circle device. If you enjoy the challenge of both yoga and Pilates then Karen Voight's "YogaSculpt" might be for you. It integrates yoga, muscle toning and Pilates mat routines.
Start in pushup position, hands directly under your shoulders, feet slightly wider than shoulder-width. Raise your hips high, bending at the waist. (Shift your feet forward if you need to.) Keep your legs straight as you do this, stretching your hamstrings, and try to form a straight line with your arms and torso. Return to pushup position. That’s 1 rep.

There's a longer-term benefit to all that lifting, too: Muscle accounts for about a third of the average woman's weight, so it has a profound effect on her metabolism, says Kenneth Walsh, director of Boston University School of Medicine's Whitaker Cardiovascular Institute. Specifically, that effect is to burn extra calories, because muscle, unlike fat, is metabolically active. In English: Muscle chews up calories even when you're not in the gym. Replace 10 pounds of fat with 10 pounds of lean muscle and you'll burn an additional 25 to 50 calories a day without even trying.
The express route to a two-piece starts here: Bikini Body: Absolution. The pair of 20-minute workouts take the burn-and-firm approach to cinching with a cardio-focused session of jumps, squats, lunges and planks, then a toning series of what a reviewer described as "new-to-me ab exercises that kick the typical crunch's booty." Get ready for the wood-chopping arabesque move, one tester jokingly warned. So sore but so sleek!
And while cardiovascular exercises such as walking, jogging or biking are important for heart and lung efficiency, it is strength training that provides the benefits that keep your body younger, stronger and more functional as each year passes by. If you want to be vibrant and independent for many more years, this strength-training workout will help you achieve just that.
Element 5 Day Yoga offers five 15-minute sequences to pick and choose from based on your mood and motivation. "It's an easy way to get to the mat every day," one tester said, whether your body needs a Stretch & Restore session or more of an invigorating Energy & Flexibility set. Plus "the instructor provided just enough guidance, no unnecessary chatter." Namaste to that.
I’m so tired of watching friends do endless cardio and Zumba classes holding one-pound weighted sticks to ‘tone’ their arms. I’m also tired of hearing “aren’t you scared of getting bulky?” when I tell them about how I love squats and deadlifts and bench presses. I’ve been lifting heavy for about 8 months and my body hasn’t looked this good in years. Thanks for writing this article.
Tbh, I think bias assessment is a bit different here vs. topics where the hypothesis is that there are differences between two things (you generally wouldn’t state a hypothesis in a meta-analysis, but there’s generally one there implicitly). The primary bias in research is publication bias – you slice and dice data to get significant findings, and significant findings are way more likely to get published than non-significant findings. So, if there’s high risk of bias and significant differences, you should probably assume the actual mean effect is smaller than the one you came up with.
I purchased Petra's Beginner Cardio video a number of years ago when I started exercising and go back to it when I need to "get back on the exercise wagon". Her style is very pleasant and the routines very manageable. So when I saw the strength training video, I was excited to try it. I love it. There are 2 10 minute, 2 20- minute and some extra routines, so you have flexibility around how long you want to work out. They are not overly challenging, but offer the attention to strength training that I like. I recommend for beginner/lower intermediate level workouts.
A personal trainer in NYC's Upper East Side, Pagano has dedicated the past 16 years of her life to passing her knowledge and passion for fitness on to other women in the hopes of helping them improve their lives and prevent common diseases like osteoporosis. Her first offering in the crowded self-help fitness genre succeeds impressively well as a resource for women of all ages looking to improve their overall health. Like a good personal trainer should, she begins with a three-part fitness test and questionnaire to assess whether the reader should consult a doctor before beginning her program. For true beginners, she provides an anatomy chart that depicts the major muscle groups and the exercises that are best suited to them. She dispels fitness myths like "lifting weights will bulk you up" and "you can spot reduce," and talks about the risk factors, exercise guidelines and restrictions of osteoporosis. Best of all for novices, many of Pagnano's beginner exercises require no special equipment, relying instead on everyday fixtures like chairs, walls and kitchen countertops. (More advanced exercises use free weights, stretch bands and stability balls.) The color photos, diagrams and clear explanations make the exercises easy to follow, and Pagano provides full training programs for improving posture and strengthening the lower, upper and core muscles of the body. This book may be one of the best substitutes for pricey gym memberships and personal trainers.
What about cardio? Get stronger. That is what matters most when it comes to transforming your body. Extra movement is always a good thing, so you can aim for at least 30 minutes of light to moderate movement every day, or just on non-lifting days. You can do traditional cardio activities if you prefer (i.e., cardio machines), but I recommend doing something fun you actually enjoy.

Why: "One of the weakest movements for all women of all ages is pressing upward overhead," says Perkins. "Because of the reduced muscle mass at 50, this critical movement pattern is further handicapped. This move increases the lean muscle mass around your shoulders, reducing your risk for neck, shoulder, and lower back injuries when pressing something heavy overhead." (Try these 3 moves to sculpt strong shoulders.)


First of all, I like to comment about how informative your website is. I have been lifting for about two and a half years now, proper weights, not the tiny pink dumbells. I want to gain more muscle, especially on my legs but its painfully slow. At the gym I go to I am the only woman in the weights room, I never had any problems from the men, though, they stare at me when I do unassisted parallel dips. I see a lot of women who only use cardio equipments and their bodies are typically skinny fat/flabby. Women tend to avoid the very thing that would benefit them the most!

Step By Step Strength Training with Petra Kolber is one hour and five minutes and was released on DVD on May 4th, 2010. The video can be broken down to the two twenty minute segments and the two ten minute segments and the five minute abs segment. For me the video is an intermediate level workout. Granted the workouts are great, but goes at a little to fast a pace and there is no step by step instruction. When I first saw the preview videos on Amazon and YouTube they looked easy, but when you put them into practice it is a whole different story. It is for this video and others as well that I am an advocate for labeling the workouts: beginner, intermediate, advanced or something like it. Step By Step Strength Training with Petra Kolber gets a B-.
I enjoy these workouts. They're straightforward and good for beginners, not too complex or exhausting. My only complaint is that the 10 minute lower body workout is done without holding weights. After she says bigger muscles should use heavier weights, she doesn't show any weights with the legs, which are pretty big muscles. Bodyweight is fine, but this isn't advertised as a bodyweight workout. I think a beginner video should show basic squats and lunges with weights. Other than that, it's great.
There were 53 comparisons of lower body strength gains, encompassing 2,287 subjects.  In these studies, men got 28.47% stronger, on average, while women got 30.64% stronger.  The average difference was 2.17%, with a 95% confidence interval from -0.92-5.26%. This was nearly a significant difference (p=0.087), but probably isn’t practically relevant and would be considered a trivial effect (d=0.08; 95% CI: -0.03-0.19).
It’s for those reasons that I champion these diet and fitness strategies.  These are the same techniques that we’re building our foundation around in our flagship course, The Nerd Fitness Academy: we understand that all women are different, which is why we present multiple training options for multiple environments, and diet advice that allows for flexibility based on one’s situation.
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