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.
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.
Natalie Jill is a very popular fitness trainer who you will see guest starring on some of the other sites and channels found in this list. Her best home exercise videos can be found on her personal fitness blog which shares workouts for weight loss, exercise ball routines, jump rope workouts, booty belt workouts, body weight exercises and more. Natalie also shares great healthy recipes and useful nutrition tips on her site.
For starters, women tend to be less acutely fatigable than men, meaning they can generally do more reps per set at a given percentage of 1RM, do more sets with a fixed number of reps at a given percentage of 1RM, or both. There are several factors underpinning this difference, but the two most important seem to be a) women tend to have a higher proportion of type I muscle fibers, which are more fatigue-resistant and b) women tend to have less muscle mass, so they don’t occlude blood vessels quite as quickly when lifting, meaning they can more efficiently deliver oxygen and clear metabolic waste products from their muscles. (However, I’ll note that this isn’t a unanimous finding).
Start in downward dog position (hips high, bending at the waist, trying to keep your arms and torso in the same line), then lift your right leg off the ground and shift your right knee so it’s beside your right wrist. Your right shin should face forward. Keeping your left leg straight, slowly lower your hips toward the floor as far as you can; this flexibility will be different for every person and different on both sides of your body. This is the start position. Now lower your chest toward the ground as far as is comfortable. Lift your right arm off the ground and thread it past your left armpit, then reach it toward the ceiling. Repeatedly thread it past your left armpit and reach it toward the ceiling until time’s up, then repeat the process on the other side.
I just finished with the 12th week and I feel amazing. For the first time (IN MY LIFE) I feel muscle on my arms and can see my legs getting more defined. I lost around an inch on the narrowest part of my waist and lost 4 pounds! I'm not sure what I gained in muscle.... but either way, I'm pretty happy! It's not a "dramatic result" that lots of people notice, but it's enough to make me proud of myself!
In a 2011 opinion poll reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), less than 20 percent of women contacted said they accomplished the CDC’s recommendations for 2 1/2 hours of aerobic exercise and two periods of strength training weekly. Yet the benefits speak for themselves. Inactive adults experience a 3 to 8 percent loss of muscle mass per decade. Resistance training may increase resting metabolism by about 7 percent and help minimize muscle loss.
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.
These simple weight exercises are an effective method of strength training for women that have proven results. How do we know? Just take a look at the toned body of TV and radio presenter Caroline Flack, who, in addition to practising yoga, is a fan of free weight exercises. When WH found out that the Love Island presenter enlisted the help of PT Sarah Lindsay of Roar Fitness, to devise free weight workouts for her to follow, we were keen to find out exactly what free weight exercises for women she recommends. And we did.
Now that you've got the training part down, it's time to stretch it out. (Can you say ahhh?) Stretching while your muscles are warm can help improve your flexibility, says Davis, not to mention it just feels phenomenal after you've pushed yourself hard. A light cool-down is also great for calming the nervous system. While dynamic stretches should be your go-to during a warm-up, the cool-down is where static stretching comes in—this means holding a stretch for 20-30 seconds. These four passive stretches will do nicely.
Complete the exercises in each workout as Straight Sets. For example, you'll do one set of leg presses, rest for 30 seconds, do a second set, rest, do the third set. Then, move on to the next exercise. You'll complete all movements in both workouts this way. Complete 12 reps of all movements for 3 sets each, and rest for 30 seconds in between each set. Choose a weight load where the last two reps of every set are extra hard, where you wouldn't be able to do a 13th rep. You may find that you increase the weight load for each set while keeping the 12 reps for all three sets.