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!!
Lose yourself in the high-energy rhythm of the Pound Rockout Results System, a five-disc sweatfest in which you wield drumsticks (aka Ripstix) instead of weights. "The drumming takes your mind off your muscles hurting!" one tester marveled. You'll "constantly tap the sticks" in each routine—core, upper body, lower body, intervals, tune-up and jam session—for a "totally unique" cardio blast.
Why she switched: I made the switch to more heavy lifting and dedicated powerlifting because I was always injured. I would get at least two injuries a year that would knock me out for two months, many of them stress fractures. So I knew I needed to build stronger bones, hips and glutes to support my endurance activities, and the light weightlifting wasn’t cutting it. A CrossFit gym near my house was starting an eight-week powerlifting class that was going to provide a program and culminate in a competition. It was great to have the support and coaching for the proper form. I ended up adapting quickly and falling in love with the heavy lifts and the powerlifting program. I broke six Illinois state records at the competition and was hooked. I also did not get injured that year.
Ideally, your workout should be quick, fuss-free and well-rounded. In reality however, most of us play favourites, choosing to do only what we enjoy. But when you do the same thing day in and out, you’re likely to neglect certain muscle groups. That’s why we asked various fitness, yoga and pilates instructors for these non-negotiable exercises that every woman should do. Whether you’re a regular runner or weightlifting fanatic, these moves deserve a place in your regular workouts.
Essential fatty acids (EFAs) are vital to the proper functioning on your body. Dietary fats got a bad rap due to the diet fads of the 80’s and 90’s, which promoted eating as little fat as possible, but in reality EFAs are needed by the body and are part of a healthy diet. Eating fats does not equate to getting fat. In fact, most EFAs help support the fat burning process and maintaining a lean body. Do not be scared to eat good fats. EFAs are not the enemy. Also, be sure to supplement with a QUALITY EFA product, such as Scivation Essential FA.
Grab a pair of kettlebells, and set up with your feet just outside both bells. Hinge at the hip so you’re able to grab the handles of both bells; this should put you in a position similar to a deadlift position, and your hips should be lower than your shoulders. Tighten your glutes slightly and brace your core. Working to keep your back flat and rotating your hips only slightly, lift the right kettlebell and row it toward your lower chest, while still gripping the left kettlebell. Return the right kettlebell to the ground, then repeat on the left side. That’s 1 rep. Do 3 sets.
If you are in reasonably good physical condition and need to lose a few pounds, you can check out our high-power fat-loss program. But if you’re starting from scratch with a lot of weight to lose and not much experience with exercise programs, then this program is for you. It’s based around walking and weights, and also includes one weekly session of what's called a "circuit program."
Lose yourself in the high-energy rhythm of the Pound Rockout Results System, a five-disc sweatfest in which you wield drumsticks (aka Ripstix) instead of weights. "The drumming takes your mind off your muscles hurting!" one tester marveled. You'll "constantly tap the sticks" in each routine—core, upper body, lower body, intervals, tune-up and jam session—for a "totally unique" cardio blast.
What is the most common thing you see women do in the gym? Cardio. And if they do lift weights the pick up a 5 pound dumbbell and do endless reps. As we have discussed, women need to lift heavy, challenging weights just like men in order to gain muscle. While machines do provide sufficient stimulation to gain muscle, nothing can beat free-weight/compound exercises.
While your total caloric intake is the most important diet factor, the ratio of protein to carbs to fat can dictate whether the weight you gain/lose is muscle or fat. A diet that contains 80% of calories from carbs, 10% from protein, and 10% from fat will produce different results than a diet containing 40% of calories from carbs, 40% from protein, and 20% from fat.
While I was training for endurance events ... at times I felt run down, and it would be hard to eat properly and I would end up bingeing. I also was in the constant mindset of needing to be thinner to excel in endurance events, which would lead me to eat too few calories and again I would end up bingeing. So although my calorie burn was much higher while training for marathons and Ironmans, my nutrition was not nearly as good. The other thing that has changed is my confidence. I was always self-conscious of having big thighs, now I embrace them because they are strong thighs. These thighs let me squat a lot of weight! It is funny, I am even more confident in my running (short distances, of course!) and have run a lifetime mile personal record this year. I am so much more confident in my own skin, which transfers to all aspects of my life.
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.
Getting comfortable with a steady running routine is definitely something to be proud of, but when you're on that cardio grind day-in and day-out, you might be ready to change things up and take on a new challenge. Time to throw some strength training into the mix. It can be a little intimidating at first if you don't know where the hell to start, but understanding the basics can help you feel confident in your refreshed fitness routine.

When you finally muster the courage to try some resistance training, you'll likely head over to the machines. You'll choose an open one, read the directions, and then try to copy whatever the model is doing in the pictures. "WTF am I doing?" you may ask yourself as you go through the motions. "Is this even right? I swear those directions don't make any sense. Good God, I hope no one is watching me!"
There are a lot of misconceptions about strength training for women, and there are a lot of reasons for those misconceptions.  Women are less likely to be represented in exercise research, women are less likely to take part in strength training or compete in strength sports, and there are still a lot of societal biases against women lifting (heavy) weights.
One strength training tip: Don't forget to breathe freely when you're lifting the weight. Most people think that they're breathing when they're doing strength training exercises, but they may be holding their breath. It's important to inhale and exhale fully between each repetition. The key is to keep from straining when holding your breath. You may find it helpful to exhale during the more strenuous phase of the exercise and inhale during the less strenuous phase.
Jessica Smith TV shares a unique collection of videos with 7-minute, 10-minute and 30-minute in-home exercise programs. She offers a really great variety of workout styles – Some focus on fat burning, others on cardio conditioning, workouts for beginners, kickboxing workouts and more. Jessica is an energetic instructor that will motivate you to join her.

HIIT cardio is the most effective for fat-burning, and it's actually really easy to do. Choose a cardio machine, a piece of equipment like a Kettlebell, or just use your bodyweight. The point is to do intervals of movement as intensely as you can. At first, go for something like 30 seconds of work followed by one minute of rest. Do these intervals for 20 minutes. As you get better, you can increase the work time and decrease the rest time.
Great notes! However, since people reading this might be forwarding to their girlfriend, wives, fiancees, etc, you might want to include a small section that identifies what 1 pound of muscle means. It would be a guess but most women reading this will go, “What is 10 lbs of muscle? I don’t want that!” It might say how many pounds of muscle she might need to look “toned.”

Of course, to Perkins—who is on a mission to get women weight lifting—the benefits go even deeper. "Something magical happens when you reach for a heavy object and are surprised by your own strength," she says. "It's an incredible feeling to climb a flight of stairs and feel powerful, or when you find that you no longer need the help of a man to move boxes. It's time for women to find their power."


How her body has reacted: I’ve noticed that I’m so much stronger, I have more energy and I’m less tired. My body fat is lower and I’m much leaner, and you can really see the muscles. Wearing dresses and skirts in the summer and feeling confident is when it all pays off. I love my routine and I love the results. I am constantly preaching to friends and clients about squatting and dead-lifting and how great it is. People always ask me if I’m a runner and I respond, “No I’m a squatter.” It takes dedication and, for me, working out is a way of life, not a temporary fix.
Just shy of an hour long, this video is a killer aerobic kickboxing workout. You’ll throw punches and kicks in supercharged sequences as you follow along with the ebullient Billy Blanks. Don’t be surprised if you start talking back to the screen, especially when Blanks looks straight into the camera and declares, “I see you at home! Keep going!” Talk about motivation.
Strangely, however, I couldn’t find a meta-analysis comparing strength gains and muscle growth in men and women.  I say “strangely” because there are meta-analyses covering damn near every facet of strength training under the sun.  Typically, once there are around a dozen studies on a given topic, someone’s going to do a meta-analysis. However, there have been 70+ studies comparing strength gains and muscle growth in men and women over the past 44 years, and no meta-analyses.
This is the best article I have read in YEARS!!!! I have wanted more muscle for 25 years & the stupid trainers give me these dumb “woman’s training programs” to do, which from a woman’s point of view have NO EFFECT at all – I just got skinny and floppy – YUK YUK YUK so I stated doing the “manly stuff” a while ago & have been looking for a way to do a whole body workout over 2 separate days – I have found them!! Thank you for a “no pink pom-pom” option – I’m off to the gym!!
He’s trained hundreds of athletes and regular folks, both online and in-person. He’s written for many of the major magazines and websites in the fitness industry, including Men’s Health, Men’s Fitness, Muscle & Fitness, Bodybuilding.com, T-Nation, and Schwarzenegger.com. Furthermore, he’s had the opportunity to work with and learn from numerous record holders, champion athletes, and collegiate and professional strength and conditioning coaches through his previous job as Chief Content Director for Juggernaut Training Systems and current full-time work here on Stronger By Science.

The Nerd Fitness Beginner Bodyweight workout is a great (free) place to start if you’re looking for a super basic, easy to follow bodyweight routine. This workout from my buddy/fellow Nerd Roman takes you through some very basic movements. Beast Skills and Gymnastics WOD also both offer great tutorials and progressions on how to master bodyweight movements, both basic and advanced.
With 24 bodyweight workouts, there's no gym or equipment necessary to see results thanks to this workout DVD. You'll start your 90 days of guided training sessions with intense anaerobic exercise, followed by a period of rest, which repeats until the three months are over. There's three levels of difficulty though, so you're guaranteed to find a routine that works well for you.

I started training when I was about 17 years old.I’ve always loved weight training! And despite all the warnings my friends, family and “MOM” gave me about bulking up & looking like a man, I never listened to them – not because I knew all the amazing effects of progressive overload back then. But lifting weights (and increasing them over a period of time) gave me a sense of euphoria. The 5 lb dumbbell that was so hard to lift in the beginning seemed like cotton – 2 months into it! I guess I’m trying to say is – I’m so glad I did not be “girly” and lift pink dumbbells! 🙂


Get in position for a kettlebell swing, except this time, as you hike the weight back, take a small step to the right with your right leg. Shift your left leg as well. As soon as the left leg lands, forcefully drive your hips forward, initiating the kettlebell swing. Repeat the pattern, this time taking a step with your left leg. Alternate reps on both sides. Do 3 sets.
The majority of your carbohydrates should come from these complex carbs because they take a little longer to digest, making you feel fuller for longer, and don't raise blood sugar as quickly as simple sugars. The added bonus is that complex carbs pack a whole lot of nutritional love in the form of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Both simple and complex carbs have a place in your diet, but long-term success in managing blood sugar levels and weight can depend on limiting your intake of simple sugars.

Leslie of Fightmaster Yoga teaches hatha yoga for beginners, yoga for energy, yoga for reducing stress, meditation yoga, yoga workouts for strength, yoga for office workers…in other words, she offers a BIG selection of yoga classes! She is a knowledgeable instructor and is an excellent communicator, which makes her classes especially easy for beginners to follow.


For each exercise you do, try to perform three sets of 10 to 12 reps with a weight heavy enough that by your last rep you can't eke out another one without compromising your form. To spark further muscle building, William Kraemer, Ph.D., a professor of kinesiology at the University of Connecticut, suggests alternating moderate-intensity workouts of 8 to 10 reps with lighter-weight 12- to 15-rep sets and super-hard 3- to 5-rep sets. (For a more detailed fat-blasting workout, check out "Do This at Home," below.)
In medical school, she’d counsel patients on the importance of exercise and feel like a hypocrite, she says, since she did little but shuttle from home to the hospital, spending her rare free time catching up on sleep. “My body didn’t feel good, and my mind didn’t feel very good either,” she says. But once she started taking her own advice, as a resident at Loyola University Medical Center, Dena quickly became a hard-core strength-training fanatic. Within a month of learning how to lift weights, she noticed she had more energy without needing as much sleep, she felt far less stressed out, and she saw her body tone up fast.
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.
Lie with your back on a bench, glutes squeezed and feet flat on the floor. Hold medium-weight dumbbells directly over your shoulders. Squeeze your shoulder blades. Keeping your left arm straight, lower the right dumbbell to your chest; pause when it’s an inch from your chest then drive it back up. Repeat on the other side. Alternate reps on both sides until time is up. Do 3 sets.

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Strength training is an area that is geared predominantly toward men. As a woman interested in strength training, I really appreciate that this article address the differences between men and women and helps me to understand what I can do to get the most out of my strength training. I love that there was a study done about strength gains specifically in women, it’s so interesting that women’s strength increased 27% faster than men’s.
This comment made me think about my husband pointing out to me that my upper traps are getting too big. He doesn’t like it. In fact, he doesn’t like me building muscle at all, and insists I need to be doing low weights and high reps to only “tone”. “You don’t need to be struggling on those heavy lists, you get more range of motion on the low weight, high reps”. “That’s all you need” he says. I feel so discouraged by not having the support, but I won’t stop my lifting (and heavy at that). I love lifting weights, and I love challenging myself with the heavier lifts.
Tired of sweating all over every piece of cardio equipment at the gym and still getting zero love from the scale? You need more iron. Not in your diet—in your hands. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, a mere 21 percent of women strength train two or more times a week. What you don't know: When you skip the weight room, you lose out on the ultimate flab melter. Those two sessions a week can reduce overall body fat by about 3 percentage points in just 10 weeks, even if you don't cut a single calorie. That translates to as much as three inches total off your waist and hips. Even better, all that new muscle pays off in a long-term boost to your metabolism, which helps keep your body lean and sculpted. Suddenly, dumbbells sound like a smart idea. Need more convincing? Read on for more solid reasons why you should build flex time into your day.

The Nerd Fitness Beginner Bodyweight workout is a great (free) place to start if you’re looking for a super basic, easy to follow bodyweight routine. This workout from my buddy/fellow Nerd Roman takes you through some very basic movements. Beast Skills and Gymnastics WOD also both offer great tutorials and progressions on how to master bodyweight movements, both basic and advanced.


Because of hormonal changes that women experience as they get older, they naturally lose bone density, putting them at increased risk for developing osteoporosis. Routinely lifting weights slows bone deterioration and can help your bones grow stronger, help you maintain strength, and reduce your chance of developing — or slow the effects of — osteoporosis.

There’s nothing that says you have to pick one type of resistance training and stick with it. Versatility is the name of the game here, so you can rotate between ALL styles if you like – I personally do. It just depends on where I am, what’s handy, and what I’m working on. No matter which form of Resistance Training you choose, you’re going to love what what it does for you!


I just want to let you know that this article is absolute gold. You’re the real MVP for conducting a meta-analysis on this topic, especially when it’s so hard to find much research out there. More importantly, you’ve paved a way to explain more fully why strength training is so great for women to women and the benefits of it in comparison to men. Research is not only assuring and affirming, but it’s convincing for people who dabble with the idea of something, so thank you! Anyways, very well done and please keep doing what you’re doing!

Hello, I made comments before about your program and how I really enjoyed it. Long story short, I recently found out that I have a leaky valve in my heart at 46 :( possibly from a car accident several years ago. I’m in good shape otherwise, and have been weight training for 10 yrs. I am in shock and upset that I was told not to lift heavy weight anymore. I refuse to not lift anymore, and I was wondering if you had any suggestions. Low weight, more reps? Perhaps continue this workout with less weight which is what I am doing, but I don’t feel I will get results without lifting heavier, thanks...

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