Want to look good — and feel even better? Try strength training. Strength training, combined with regular aerobic exercise, can greatly impact your health. You may build strength, improve your muscle tone and boost your self-esteem. But you can also injure yourself if you use poor technique with your exercises. This collection of how-to videos can help you get started with strength training using the best technique.
Another limitation is that, in studies on untrained subjects, we can’t necessarily assume that their backgrounds are identical prior to the start of a study. In other words, it’s possible that the “untrained” men in these studies had previously undertaken more activities outside the gym that required high levels of muscular exertion than the “untrained” women. If that were the case, you’d expect women to have faster initial relative strength gains simply from catching up with the male baseline.
Of course, cardio is an important part of fitness too, but the benefits of strength training are major. Strength training helps build muscle, and lean muscle is better at burning calories when the body is at rest, which is important whether you're trying to lose weight or maintain it. It also helps strengthens joints and bones, avoid injury, improve your muscular endurance, and will help you give it your all during your other workouts, whether that means setting a new PR if you're a runner or pushing (and pulling) a little harder with your legs during your favorite indoor cycling class.
Why? Well, one, those gyms are just too damn hot for a mid-July workout. And second, regardless of what many popular gym chains may want members to believe, “gymtimidation” is very real and very miserable. No one wants to enter a gym after a long winter of avoiding doing just that, only to glue themselves to the closest cardio machine and hope for the best.
Why: "The chest muscles (pectorals) for all women are particularly weak and underdeveloped," says Perkins. "By increasing the mass in this muscle group you are adding a substantial percentage of lean mass towards your overall health. Additionally, the chest muscles are responsible for supporting breast tissue. This move will bring a bit more lift to your chest."
Start in pushup position with your feet wide, and each hand gripping a light-weight dumbbell. Your hands should be directly beneath your shoulders. Keeping your core and glutes tight, lift the right dumbbell off the ground and toward your right ribcage, driving your right elbow up high. Squeeze for a moment, then lower it back to the start. Repeat with the left arm. On all reps, focus on doing everything possible to keep your hips and core square to the ground. They will shift a little bit (that’s OK!), but fight for good form. Alternate reps until time’s up. Do 3 sets.
LINGUVIC: Your weight training session could last anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes, depending on what you're doing. More is not necessarily better. You want to have a good program that hits your muscles without overdoing it. Your workout should not be more than 45 minutes -- tops. You can have a great workout in 15 minutes if you have the right routine to do.
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.
Jillian Michaels, the star trainer on "The Biggest Loser" TV series, has a series of workout videos that feature her boot camp style of motivation. "No More Trouble Zones" is a DVD that highlights classic exercises such as squats, triceps kickbacks and lunges with bicep curls. Cathe Friedrich is known for her challenging workouts using an ultra-high step and heavy weights. Her "Butts and Guts," "Muscle Max" and "Core Max" workout videos will challenge even advanced exercisers. Kathy Smith's "Lift Weights to Lose Weight Double" offers seven 26-minute workouts targeting every muscle using a Swiss ball and dumbbells. Master instructor Karen Voight's "Firm Arms and Abs" and "Lean Legs and Buns" are two separate 40-minute videos that will define your entire body. "Maximum Body Shaping" includes 46 minutes of classic dumbbell toning exercises and intense plyometrics to accelerate muscle fatigue.
Remember Billy Blanks, the guy behind the Tae Bo craze? Now his son, Billy Blanks, Jr. is getting in on the family business. Along with his wife, Sharon Catherine Blanks, Billy Jr. will help you learn various types of dance styles in this fun workout DVD. The duo takes you through six 5-minute cardio routines that are inspired by dance styles from all over the world: hip-hop, Bollywood, African, disco, and country. It's designed for the whole family, so the kids can join in too!
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.
Many women miss out on the benefits of strength training out of fear of developing bulging muscles. This is a misconception. According to the Women’s Heart Foundation, high levels of estrogen make it very difficult for women to become overly muscular. When women lift weights, the changes to their muscles are generally related to tone, strength, and endurance rather than size. The resulting look is firm, feminine toning, not bulky masculine muscles.
Begin with three weight-training sessions each week, recommends Joe Dowdell, founder and co-owner of the New York City gym Peak Performance. For the greatest calorie burn, aim for total-body workouts that target your arms, abs, legs, and back, and go for moves that will zap several different muscle groups at a time—for example, squats, which call on muscles in both the front and back of your legs, as opposed to leg extensions, which isolate the quads.
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.
Fitness can be intimidating. Even small, mom-and-pop gyms are usually full of weird-looking machines, equipment you don't know how to use, and unapproachable sexy people lugging around milk cartons full of pink water. Most of us new to the world of weights will walk into a gym feeling immediately overwhelmed. There's so much going on it's difficult to even know where to begin!
That’s very much in line with this analysis: Men start off with more muscle and more strength, largely due to higher testosterone levels, and absolute muscle and strength gains are larger because they started with a higher baseline. However, relative muscle gains are identical between sexes, and relative strength gains are likely similar long-term.
Tracking lifestyle markers improve can also be really motivating. They also give you valuable information about your progress. For example, if you’ve been losing fat at a steady pace for six weeks, and suddenly, during the past two weeks, you’ve hit a plateau, take a look at your sleep and stress levels. If your sleep has been poor for the last two weeks, there’s a good chance you’ve found the culprit.
I’m a woman and I totally agree with what you’ve said. Guys at my gym look at me as an outsider, giving me what-the-hell-are-u-doing-in-the-mens-territory looks. I never leave the gym unless my shirt is SOAKED in sweat. I lost so far around 50 lbs (I weight around 170 lbs now). I do challenge myself.. A LOT and I AM noticing changes. The problem is, I feel like my trapezious muscles (is that what they’re called?) are getting bigger and I hate that. I do shoulder press and that seems to bulk up my trapezious muscles. I don’t know what I should do. Maybe women can only bulk up in that area? I’m thinking maybe I should stop the shoulder press workout? But I do want my arms to be toned and my deltoids to show.
I don't have much to add to what others have already said. This book has really helped me get into shape. The exercises are very easy to follow, the color photos really help. I like that she points out where you should be feeling it for many of the exercises. I also love that she includes easy, medium, and advanced exercises for each muscle. I find her tips very very helpful. A couple of times I just didn't feel much effort and I went back and read the detail under the exercise and was able to do it properly. Her explanations are very clear, so that you do the exercises most effectively and also don't strain other muscles in the process. I'm so happy with my results! In just one month, I have become much much stronger than I have ever been before. I'm giving this book to two people this Christmas, and her other book "8 weeks" to each of my sisters. Highly recommended!
You need to eat real foods. And you need to eat enough of it. Honestly, unless you’re incredibly small, I would never recommend ever putting any woman on a diet of 1200 calories. In fact, I don’t recommend women ever dip below 1800 calories per day if they are exercising regularly! I understand that every woman is different, and every woman processes calories differently, but I can’t emphasize enough that quality of food is so dang important!