"I started with seven or eight rounds of P90X, not to get ‘ripped’ but to stay in shape. I have also tried and loved the expansion packs, P90X2 and P90X3. I love that I can switch loads of laundry during a water break, not worry about what kind of weather is outside, and work out while my kids are home. The biggest changes I have seen are in my arms, back, legs, and stomach.” —Wendy Brown, Boise, ID
Want to lose fat and achieve a toned looking physique? Fantastic! To achieve those results you must improve your strength training performance every time you repeat a workout. As a beginner strength trainee, getting stronger must be your sole priority in the gym. For the first several months you should (a) perform more reps with the same weight, (b) increase the weight, and/or (c) perform more sets for each exercise.
Sit on the ground, with your right leg directly in front of you, bent 90 degrees at the knee, knee flat on the ground. Your left leg should be behind you, also bent 90 degrees at the knee, knee flat on the ground Your thighs should also form a 90-degree angle with each other. Now place your hands on the floor on each side of your right leg; slowly lower your chest toward your knee. Go only as low as you can while keeping your shoulders square. Pause and feel the stretch. Return to the start position, then swivel your hips so your left leg is now directly in front of you and repeat the process.
During weeks 5-8, you will be lifting in the 6-8 rep range. What this means is that you want to complete at least 6 reps but no more than 8 reps for each set. If you cannot complete 6 reps, then the weight is too heavy and you should decrease the load. If you can complete more than 8 reps, then the weight is too light and you should increase the load.
When you engage in strength training, the exercises don’t just affect your muscles. According to the American Council on Exercise (ACE), it can also have major effects on your physical health, such as reducing blood pressure, improving cholesterol, and reducing your risk of diabetes. Better yet, it can also improve your ability to perform daily activities, such as lifting boxes or moving household items – all because it improves your strength, coordination, and flexibility.
“I think the most important thing about any athletic pursuit for women ... is the general sense of competence you get from knowing that your body can do whatever you need it to,” says Karen Ko, a Toronto-based strength coach and personal trainer. “This is huge for women. We’re socialized to defer to men in areas of physical activity — they are the experts, they are inherently stronger than us. Strength training challenges this narrative and is extremely empowering.”
LINGUVIC: It is pretty impossible to look like Arnold. Unfortunately, that fear holds a lot of women back from improving their bodies. The program in Lean, Long & Strong offers exercises you can do at home to get you stronger and bring out the definition in your body. Women don't have the testosterone to get big muscles. Even if they lifted heavy weights, it's pretty hard to look like Arnold. Actually, it's pretty hard for most guys to look like Arnold.
If so, then there was simply no deficit present during that time. If you would have said this went on for just a couple of weeks, I would have told you there was likely some water retention going on (maybe it was even a certain time of the month). But that would have only been a temporary short-term thing at most. To go 2 months straight with no change whatsoever in scale weight or measurements, it’s pretty safe to say fat just wasn’t being lost. Either that or there was something inaccurate happening in the way you tracked your weight and measurements.
With that being said, it’s certainly possible that there were differences in real-world training status that are basically impossible for a study to account for. For example, if the men tended to train like hardcore powerlifters or bodybuilders, and the women tended to do the sort of lighter, higher-rep “toning” workouts that are often recommended to women, it would make sense that the women would gain strength faster. In other words, “research tends to indicate that trained women still gain strength quicker than trained men, but I’m concerned those studies are hampered by methodological limitations, so I’ll continue to assume the null (similar relative rates of strength gains) until research on a more representative population is conducted” is also a very defensible position.
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!!
Cardio history: I started long-distance running in 2008, half and full marathons, which led to half and full Ironmans from 2011 to 2013. That moved to ultramarathons — 50 km, 50-miler, 100 km, etc. — for the past three years. During these periods, I was basically doing cardio in the form of biking, running or swimming for 15 to 20-plus hours a week, with maybe five of those hours as light circuit-style, high-rep weight training — so more cardio than lifting.
Muscle is denser than fat, meaning it takes up less space on your body. By losing fat and gaining muscle, you can stay the same weight – or even gain some – but actually be slimmer than you were before. Think of weight training as an investment that pays serious dividends down the road. The more muscle you have, the more calories (and fat) your body can burn over time.