While many people advocate eating a low-carb diet for weight loss, it's not always ideal. Weight loss may come easily at first, but chronically low amounts of carbohydrates could have negative downstream effects in the long run. A woman's delicately balanced hormone system can be disrupted by low carb availability, which could bring about unwanted side effects like loss of bone density and chronic sleep deprivation. On a low-carb diet, some women may experience stopped or irregular periods because the body perceives chronically low energy levels as starvation and stress.
Recent research suggests that strength training may lower a woman’s risk for Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. In a 2016 study, researchers from Harvard Medical School and the National Institutes of Health used data from nearly 36,000 older women, who ranged in age from 47 to 98. The women filled out questionnaires for about a decade detailing their health and exercise levels, and one question asked women to estimate how much weightlifting or strength training they had done per week in the past year. The researchers then tracked which of the women had a heart attack or stroke and which developed Type 2 diabetes.
“Absolutely ridiculous!” This is what I thought aloud while reading a popular diet book for women. It was appalling. Yogurt, cereal, coffee and a glass of juice for breakfast. Where the heck is the protein!? Sure, yogurt has some, but not enough to sustain the energy, satiation and nutrition that an active woman needs. It is time to set the record straight. We need to take these old school, fairy tale diets and trash them! Just as we burned our bras in the 60’s for equal rights, let’s burn our old diet books and get with the program—Women NEED protein!
If you've ever tried to ditch the saddlebags and ended up a bra size smaller instead, you know that where you lose is as important as how much. As great as it might be to see the numbers on the scale go down, when you're on a strict cardio-only program your victory is likely to be empty. A recent study at the University of Alabama at Birmingham compared dieters who lifted three times a week with those who did aerobic exercise for the same amount of time. Both groups ate the same number of calories, and both lost the same amount—26 pounds—but the lifters lost pure chub, while about 8 percent of the aerobicizers' drop came from valuable muscle. Researchers have also found that lifting weights is better than cardio at whittling intra-abdominal fat—the Buddha-belly kind that's associated with diseases from diabetes to cancer. 

But women in particular are neglecting strength training at their own peril. It’s the only kind of exercise that makes muscles bigger, which lets them generate more strength and force, faster. “Muscle mass allows us to move,” Tucker says. Young people tend to take for granted the day-to-day parts of life that require strength, like walking up stairs or picking up a baby. “But a sedentary lifestyle means that people are gradually becoming weaker over time,” he says. Building muscle can fight back against that process.

And this is where my fitness journey truly began. That said, I didn’t go from Cardio Fit Bunny to Girl Who Lifts in a week. I eased in by alternating between my HIIT and cardio-focused program a few days a week and weightlifting the others. After a few weeks, loving the way I felt lifting heavier, I gave my up the fat-burn routines and switched to weightlifting exclusively.


The narrowing of the gap as competitiveness increases suggests that women may truly continue gaining strength at a slightly faster relative rate across their training careers.  Similarly, a 2014 study of elite athletes in a variety of sports found that the women had about 85% as much lean body mass as men; before training, women tend to have ~60-70% as much lean body mass as men, suggesting that women may actually gain relatively more muscle than men long-term (though, for all of these comparisons, you can’t assume causation from cross-sectional analyses).  
Proper strength training also improves posture and alignment, and can help with pelvic floor and incontinence issues.  Historically, these were thought to be issues only “older women” have to deal with, but recently, these issues have been popping up for younger women, as well.  Whether that’s because more women are engaging in more strenuous activity (like box jumps, double-unders, heavy deadlifts), or women are simply more comfortable talking about it, it’s definitely affecting women of all ages.

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.
It’s no secret that Beyoncé is a crazy-good performer, and while we could never mimic her vocals, with some coaching, we thought we could pick up her dance moves. That’s why we were so excited to discover this video series featuring choreographer Frank Gatson, Jr., who breaks down every portion of Beyoncé’s Let’s Move! campaign, which features a remix of “Get Me Bodied.” Watch the first instructional portion and then the second one to learn the entire routine.
Sitting up straight on your hands and knees, knees wide and big toes touching. Exhale then lean forward, draping your torso between your thighs and extending your arms forward, palms down. Push your butt back as you reach your arms forward as far as possible. This is your starting position. Keep pushing your butt back as you lift your right arm off the ground; thread it under your left armpit, reaching to the left as far as possible. Pause and feel the stretch, then, continuing to push your butt back and keep your left hand on the ground, reach your right hand toward the ceiling. Pause, then return your right hand to the start position. Repeat on the other side. That’s 1 rep.

Why she switched: I decided to truly switch my focus after the summer of 2016 due to a hip injury while training for a marathon. I could perform most lifts without pain, yet couldn’t run a mile. This is when I saw a shift in my body, energy and success lifting. I entered my first powerlifting competition the winter of 2016. After the second time I competed, I ran a personal-record half-marathon the next weekend.


It wasn’t worth splitting apart the young and older subjects to do formal subgroup analyses for hypertrophy outcomes (I like having at least 20 studies to pool), but just looking at simple averages, it seems that men and women gain muscle at a similar rate regardless of age.  In the studies on young participants (N=8), the men increased muscle size by 13.1%, while the women increased muscle size by 14.1%. Similarly, in the studies on older participants (N=17), the men increased muscle size by 11.9%, while the women increased muscle size by 11.8%. Both of these differences are clearly trivial.
Thank you for this article, it was great to read one that explained so well the myths surrounding women lifting like men. I’ve been lifting heavy for a few years now and the only time I felt that I was bigger than I would’ve liked was when I had a layer of fat covering my muscle! (often women seem to mistake this for lots of muscle bulk) Once that was lost though, with a small deficit and while continuing to lift, I loved the results! Muscle tone, looking strong, looking healthy. I wish more women would realise the benefits – next time I have a female friend complain about how they’re not getting “toned”, I’ll be sending them a link to this! 😀
Cayenne peppers have been used for centuries as a folk medicine for stimulating circulation, aiding digestion and relieving pain (topically). Cayenne increases thermogenesis by dilating blood vessels and increasing blood circulation. Blood flow to adipose tissue is very important for the transportation of fatty acids to be burned. Increasing blood flow allows more fatty acids to be delivered to tissues where they can be burned. In order to lose body fat you must burn fat!

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! 🙂
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And regarding when to switch from the beginner routine to the intermediate routine, the short answer is simply whenever the beginner routine stops working. Whether that’s after 4 months or a year… just ride it out for as long you’re progressing. I’ll actually be a writing a post in the next few weeks that will answer this question in more detail. Keep an eye out for it as well.

Johanna, I agree with you on the general importance of checking SRs and MAs for these points. But have you thought how these biases would represent themselves specifically *in this very topic*? You sound as if this was an SR on a drug or surgical procedure with a clear risk and direction and means of accomplishing a biased result . Greg subtlely pointed out that this topic is a lot different.
Start standing, then bend at the waist, working to keep your knees as straight as possible (it’s OK if they bend though), and place your hands on the ground ear your feet. Keeping your core tight, walk your hands forward until you’re in pushup position. Pause for 1 second once you’re in good pushup position, then walk your hands back toward your feet, again trying to keep your knees as straight as possible. That’s 1 rep.

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.
During weeks 1-4, you will be lifting in the 8-12 rep range. What this means is that you want to complete at least 8 reps but no more than 12 reps for each set. If you cannot complete 8 reps, then the weight is too heavy and you should decrease the load. If you can complete more than 12 reps, then the weight is too light and you should increase the load.
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: Stand next to a chair or sturdy object to use for balance. Hold a 5 to 10 pound dumbbell in your right hand and place your left hand on the chair. Focus your effort on your left leg and take a large step backward with your right leg. Use the strength of your left leg to lower down until your right knee nearly touches the floor. Press into your left heel to push upward, and step forward returning to the starting position. That's one repetition. Aim to complete 10 to 12 reps on this side and then complete the same on the other.
During weeks 9-12, you will be lifting in the 4-6 rep range. What this means is that you want to complete at least 4 reps but no more than 6 reps for each set. If you cannot complete 4 reps, then the weight is too heavy and you should decrease the load. If you can complete more than 6 reps, then the weight is too light and you should increase the load.
Thank you for this article – it confirms what I’ve read a few times, though sadly not often enough. I had this discussion with my sister that was at an all-girls gym – they ONLY have crappo machines, and you’re only allowed to use the free-weights if you’re working with a PT!! I shit you not… ANYWAY, I digress. I did have a question to ask – with regards to progression training, at what point do you decide to maintain, rather than constantly upping the intensity, or is that a really noob-y question??? =)
Some muscle soreness is likely when you start strength training, but you shouldn’t be cripplingly holy-crap-I’m-stuck-on-the-toilet sore for several days afterward. It’s an unfortunate fact that women are often encouraged to seek out extreme soreness, like it’s a badge of honor or, worse, that it’s the only indicator of a successful workout. (This is merely one of many misconceptions of the mind-boggling bullshit of health and fitness.)
Please pay attention to the way you walk, the way you stand. For instance, when you're waiting in line at the bank, are you leaning your body weight on one hip only, jutting your hip out to the side? How do you carry your shoulder bag? If you play a sport, such as tennis or golf, are you always leading with your strong side? Try and always do things evenly and notice your posture. Eventually it will be second nature to be even and balanced.
I appreciate such a thorough synthesis on this topic. As a systematic reviewer, my main concern would be a lack of systematic assessment of risk of bias in the individual studies. I see you did a funnel plot to see any bias by study size, but there are so many other things involved in study quality (study design, selection of participants, statistical adjustment for potential con founders, etc). I would be interested to see how many of these studies were fair or better quality (there are several well accepted quality rating tools available for various study designs). I would also be interested to see a sensitivity analysis to see if the pooled results differ when high risk of bias studies are eliminated, for example. Thanks for an interesting read.

The Bare Essentials Produce Extraordinary Results – all too often most people complicate health and fitness. But it’s not that complicated and this articles explain why (and how!) the bare essentials will allow you to achieve (and maintain) extraordinary results. You’ve save yourself a lot of time and frustration too when you harness the power of the essentials.
I hope you can take something away from this article.  If you’re a woman, I hope it was illuminating and empowering.  If you train women, I hope it was informative. Men and women are more alike than different when it comes to training responses, but similar doesn’t mean identical.  Women are not just smaller versions of men, though they should expect the same relative rate of progress a man would.
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.
Most people should do both kinds of exercise for the biggest gains. But if you had to choose one, Clark advises, pick strength training. “Cardio is more digestible, it’s less intimidating, but people also get less and less out of it over time,” she says. As you grow fitter, you have to do more and more aerobic exercise to see the gains, she explains. Strength training, in her view, is the most efficient exercise for those with limited time.

There were 27 comparisons of upper body strength gains, encompassing 1,599 subjects.  In these studies, men got 34.92% stronger, on average, while women got 47.51% stronger.  The average difference was 12.59%, with a 95% confidence interval from 6.45-18.73%. This was a significant difference (p=0.0002) and would be considered a medium effect (d=0.66; 95% CI: 0.34-0.98).  On average, upper body strength increased about 36% faster in women.
If you’ve ever skipped a workout because you’re just too sore from a previous one (hey, these videos are tough!), you’re definitely not alone. That’s why we love this easy-to-follow routine. It features exercises that stretch and strengthen your muscles simultaneously so you give your body the chance to recover—without skipping a workout altogether. That’s what we consider a win-win.
And regarding when to switch from the beginner routine to the intermediate routine, the short answer is simply whenever the beginner routine stops working. Whether that’s after 4 months or a year… just ride it out for as long you’re progressing. I’ll actually be a writing a post in the next few weeks that will answer this question in more detail. Keep an eye out for it as well.
Slowly, bend your arms to a 90-degree angle, lowering your entire body. Once you reach this angle, hold it for a second before straightening your arms again and resuming the starting position. This is one repetition. Aim for at least five repetitions to start, but do not exceed a dozen. To increase difficulty, place a heavy textbook or gym bag in your lap.

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.
Let’s not forget how resistance training speeds up your metabolism. With every pound of muscle you build, you will burn an additional 35-50 calories a day, even at a resting rate, and that adds up: if you gain 4.5 lbs of muscle, that’s an extra 150 calories burned a day, which is 4,500 extra calories burned each month, and THAT adds up to losing about 15 lbs a year. HELLO!

With four different 16-week programs—that’s 64 weeks of training—you get over a year’s worth of workouts, including progressions to ensure that you continue making progress. You’ll also get a training manual, exercise glossary, progress tracker, a bonus conditioning manual, plus a video library with over 70 high-definition videos breaking down each exercise, step by step.
How: Begin with your hands directly under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Contract the muscles of your core and stabilize your pelvis and shoulders. Shift your balance onto your left knee and your right hand. In one movement, extend your right leg back behind you and your left arm outin front of you. Extend both as far as possible and hold for 2 seconds. Slowly release both back to the starting position. That's one repetition. Immediately switch sides and perform the same with the left leg and right arm. Continue alternating sides for a total of 20 reps.
Mix-and-match interval training works magic in Natalie Jill's Rev4 Rev It Up. The four 10-minute routines hit different trouble zones so you can do them as stand-alones—"I definitely felt I got a good workout after each," one tester said—or combine them for a total-body session. Testers loved that they could "switch things up for time-pressed mornings" and gave props to instructor Jill's "nice energy." Expect a variety of planks and booty-shaping moves.
Ask 100 women this year what their New Year’s resolution will be and a third will likely answer “weight loss” in to look fitter and more toned. Many of these women will join a gym (or actually start using their membership) and center their workout around high-intensity sessions on the treadmill, elliptical, or any other cardio machine.  Running on the treadmill 4 days a week may help you lose body fat, but without adding on muscle, it won’t give you that tight, toned look.
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