Some commonsense strategies are increasing your water intake, logging your food and something called "closer to the source." What I mean by that is when you're deciding what to eat and what to feed your family, ask yourself "Where did this come from?" We know where an apple came from, we know where an egg came from, but I'm not too sure where cheese doodles come from. You want to try to eat closer to the source. For instance, cheese is better than cheese doodles. There are lots of good commonsense strategies like that in Lean, Long & Strong .
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).
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.
Wow I stumbled upon this site YEsterday and have come back home from work today to read more. I train the wife 4 times per week to loose fat and the training I MAKE her do I always get the “but I don’t want to build muscle” and as many times I tell her you won’t she moans so I then try my hardest to punish her with clean and presses, she hates me for this but I am really glad I found this site so much good reading.
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.
You need to strength train your whole body. I know you might be thinking, OK, I'll just do lunges, because Wini said lunges are the best lower body exercise. However, when you work your whole body you increase your metabolism and you burn more body fat and it's key as you're getting stronger and defining muscles that you, at the same time, have your body fat drop so that you can see those muscles. So you need to do a strength training workout for your whole body. You can certainly focus on your lower body. In Lean, Long & Strong we have a lower body concentration where you work your lower body a little bit more, yet you still need to work your whole body.
Many women worry that weight training will somehow transform them into Hulk-ettes, so they spend hours doing cardio in order to maintain their "feminine" figure. The truth is, women just don't have the hormonal support to gain muscle mass like men. The hormone testosterone is responsible for large increases in muscle mass. Women's testosterone levels are a fraction of men's. That means you can bench press without concerning yourself about how much chest hair you might grow.
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Strength training by utilizing some form of resistance is a much better approach than focusing only on cardio if your goal is to achieve a toned, healthy physique, and there’s a lot of science to support it. Research shows that adding resistance training as part of your workout routine is a proven method for increasing Lean Body Mass and reducing body fat for women.

Unfortunately, for all of us late to the gym game (those that didn’t quite follow through on those New Year’s Resolutions but have big plans to crush them next year), that coveted summer body might not be a reality just yet. So what do you do? Do you get a gym membership and promise that you’ll go every morning right before overspending on a picture-worthy acai bowl?
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! 😀
The average American flat-out loathes strength training. While about half of people do the recommended amount of aerobic activity each week, only 20% also do the muscle-strengthening moves that work major muscle groups. Yet the scientific benefits are stacking up in favor of it, from bone protection to disease prevention, and it appears to have special benefits for women.
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).  
Strength training is a key part of a healthy, active lifestyle. It tones muscles, burns calories, and builds stamina for a stronger, leaner body. But learning the proper form and technique can make or break your practice. This program provides straightforward instruction, practical tips, and an efficient, effective workout for all experience levels.
Now you may be saying, “I have seen some female bodybuilders who are very muscular and look similar to men in their build.” The real reason they look like that is they are most-likely using exogenous testosterone injections and/or other anabolic steroids. When women use exogenous testosterone/steroids they may show signs of hair growth on the face and chest, increased muscle mass, a redistribution of body fat from a female pattern of storage to a male pattern of storage, deepening of the voice, and other effects. The point of saying this is that unless you are on exogenous testosterone or other anabolic steroids, you will not become big and bulky from lifting weights.
Cardio history: I wouldn’t consider myself an avid runner, but it was my top-choice workout before I discovered lifting. I would run on treadmills or trails around a lake or hillsides, do some kind of kettlebell workout, followed by whatever diet fad I was on at the moment. One thing was clear to me: I wasn’t getting any results. Sure, running made me sweat like a maniac and gasp for air every second. But I was also injured quite often. I would consistently hurt my hips, knees and ankles.
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!!
Unlike the exercises listed above, you don’t need water jugs or gym bags to complete these exercises. They can be completed with minimal equipment – usually all you need is a chair. If you want to make it harder, however, you can use jugs or bags. Try adding a couple of these exercises to your strength training routine, doing them three times a week.
Hi Jay.Your site is a breath of fresh air.I’m 67 and have loved working out with weights for years.Started with library physique books as they were called when I was a boy.Common sense books that taught progressive weight training.Thank you for bringing back that common sense for today’s people.I will send this information about training to my daughter. She will appreciate your advice. Best regards

I have all these cutouts from magazines, newspapers, etc with all kinds of great exercises. But this book has it all & in color. It has three level of exercises; beginners, intermediate and advanced--plus extras for different problems at each level. I was loaned a copy from my physical therapist to learn some exercises specific to my problems. After one week, I knew I needed to puchase my own copy, so I did and am delighted with it. It has all the exercises I need to do, inclluding use of stability balls of various sizes, weights, therabands, and others. I am able to exercise in my home, on my schedule, when I need, which giives me flexability. Great book for any woman who needs to start or maintain a good safe exercise program.


There is no reason why you cannot hit your protein needs DAILY! With quality, low carb and fat protein powders like Whey Sensible from PGN, it is delicious and easy to whip up a fast shake and satisfy that sweet tooth at the same time. Dietary protein is very important in a woman’s diet. Women need the same amount of protein as men (adjusted for bodyweight). It is recommended that active women eat about 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight.
I just encountered this article while looking for references to support my argument with someone on a website that their fears of becoming huge were unfounded. She is one of those women who does tend to put on a little more muscle than many of us, and she linked to a page loaded with images of steroid-chunked women as a an example of what she was afraid of.
The general guideline for an active individual's intake of protein is about one gram of protein per pound of bodyweight. If you weigh 135 pounds, you would aim to eat approximately 135 grams of protein. Since it's difficult to consume that much protein in two or three meals, people tend to spread it out over multiple meals and ensure that some form of protein accompanies every meal.
Many women worry that weight training will somehow transform them into Hulk-ettes, so they spend hours doing cardio in order to maintain their "feminine" figure. The truth is, women just don't have the hormonal support to gain muscle mass like men. The hormone testosterone is responsible for large increases in muscle mass. Women's testosterone levels are a fraction of men's. That means you can bench press without concerning yourself about how much chest hair you might grow.
Sarah is a well-known health and fitness blogger has made “enabling your passion for healthy living” her mission. She will help you learn how to exercise at home with her quick and simple core workouts, cardio routines, flexibility workouts, and more on her blog. Sarah is fun, energetic, and really likeable, which makes following along with her workouts quite easy.
Get in pushup position with a light dumbbell outside your left arm. Tighten your core and squeeze your glutes. Doing everything to keep your torso steady, grab the dumbbell with your left hand, lift it an inch off the ground, and move it so it’s now on the outside of your right arm. Return to plank position, then repeat the process with your right arm. Work for 40 seconds, then rest for 20 seconds each set in Week 9. In Week 10, work for 50 seconds, and rest for 10 seconds each set. Do 3 sets.

As for yoga, it is a wonderful form of exercise. But it is not the best way to change your body. I practice yoga for the relaxation benefits of it and the breath control. Everyone in my yoga class asks me how to get cuts in their arms. Yoga is an excellent complement to strength training but it does not change your body the way strength training does.
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.

My husband has just sent me this article, after listening to me bitch for years about wanting to be more “toned” but never wanting to join him at the weight bench for fear of getting manly muscles. The smugness on his face right now is nauseating, but I can admit the error of my judgement. (Not to him, obviously, but to myself, at least.) Thanks for the no-bullshit approach, I needed to hear it.
Dena still urges her patients to exercise. But these days, it’s a prescription she really believes. Not everyone will become a bodybuilder, but most can get stronger and feel better by moving just a little bit more. “I find myself really encouraging patients to turn to exercise as an outlet or a way to help them cope with some of the difficult things they’re dealing with in life,” she says. “The message is different now, because I do it myself.”
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.

The difference between strength training for women and weight training for women is mostly semantics. Some people might even refer to it as “weight lifting for women.”. However, “strength training” may sound less intimidating to someone who has never lifted weights before, and it can be a relief to know that you can strength train (especially in the beginning) using just your body weight. 
Why she switched: After graduating, I started teaching group fitness programs but all of them were around cardio ― my favorite class to teach was kickboxing. I would jump around the room for 60 minutes with my participants, drenched in sweat. It was amazing and tons of fun, but I felt that after a few years, my fitness had plateaued. I wasn’t getting leaner or more toned. I also felt like I wasn’t “powerful” enough in front of the class. Some of my other instructor colleagues really were a presence in front of the room. You looked at them and you thought, “Wow, that person is STRONG.” I wanted to be like that.
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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.

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.


You don’t have to lift hundreds of pounds on every exercise like a guy might, but you do have to lift weights that are equally challenging for YOU and continue to push yourself to progress and gradually lift heavier and heavier weights over time. This is progressive overload, and it’s a requirement for any amount of muscle to be built or any amount of progress to be made.
Stand holding medium-weight dumbbells at your sides. Keeping your chest up and core braced, perform a reverse lunge with your right leg, stepping your right leg back, bending your knee and lowering your torso until your left thigh is parallel with the ground. Drive off your right leg to return to standing, then step forward with your right leg, bend both knees and lower your torso until your right thigh is parallel with the ground. Press back to standing, then repeat on the other side. Alternate reps on both sides until time is up. Do 3 sets.
There were 63 comparisons of strength gains, encompassing 3,332 subjects.  In these studies, men got 29.41% stronger, on average, while women got 37.42% stronger.  The average difference was 8.01%, with a 95% confidence interval from 4.59-11.43%. This was a significant difference (p<0.0001) and would be considered a small effect (d=0.34; 95% CI: 0.19-0.48).  On average, strength increased about 27% faster in women.
Spark People shares short videos for all different types of home workouts, no equipment required. There are several categories – Abs, Cardio, Yoga and Pilates, as well as others that diver into healthy cooking and eating ideas. These workouts are great when you are pinched for time. Choose a 10-12 minute routine and squeeze in some activity where you normally would have skipped it altogether.
That’s unfortunate: On average, a woman over 25 years old who doesn’t do strength-training exercises loses about one-half pound of muscle each year, or roughly 5 pounds in a decade, research has found. That makes you feel weaker and look flabbier, and results in about a 3% decrease in resting metabolic rate (RMR). Over time, this slowing metabolism can lead to an increase in body fat.
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!!
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