While some women, especially those facing illnesses or injuries that impede their ability to perform load-bearing exercise, do best with cardio only, most would benefit from adding some kind of weight training to their workout routine. Ko says it’s never too late to start, and adds that the “bro culture” of the weight room is changing and becoming more welcoming to people of all genders.
"I used to find lots of excuses to avoid the gym—the drive, not knowing how to use the machines, and classes that were at least an hour. But with Beachbody I just change clothes, push play, and I'm done. I can get on with my day. Since 2014, I've lost close to 40 pounds and 20 inches. I went from a size 14 to a comfortable size six. Even better, I know I'm stronger than I've ever been. In the last race I ran, I came in third in my age group!" —Kristen Morgan, Knoxville, TN
I was fixated on this path, focusing mostly on HIIT workouts, until Instagram started showing me a different kind of inspiration: More and more girls I follow were getting into weightlifting. It is crazy how the strangers you decide to follow on social media have such an impact on your life. Suddenly, the “Strong is the new skinny” mantra that women were spreading started to really speak to me. Shifting the goal from having a thigh gap to being able to challenge your body in new ways just made so much more sense. I also began to realize that my strategy for eating “clean” was just actually putting my body and mind in a dangerous place.
How her body has reacted: Since making the switch, my body composition has changed drastically. It is something I didn’t notice right away and I truly still don’t understand how drastically it has changed until I look at pictures and see how much leaner my body is and how much stronger I am. I have more energy outside of training, which leaves me in a good mental space to focus on eating healthfully to fuel my body properly.
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"As a busy mom, the Beachbody programs have been a godsend. The 21 Day Fix Extreme by Beachbody is my absolute favorite. I started with the original 21 Day Fix in April 2014 and have worked up from there. I love that it's an at-home workout (and eating plan) because I can get the workout done in 30 minutes. These sweat sessions include an upper-body workout, a lower-body workout, cardio exercises, yoga, and Pilates.
But frankly I don’t dare to do them in the gym, I get weird looks and/or regular comments on how manly I will be soon, likee you said, overnight. 🙂 So I do them on my doorway pull-up bar. Short-term goal is chins for reps with a 20kg kettlebell… long term goal is the same with an overhand grip. And no, I’m not huge/bulky/manly. 🙂 Maybe by tomorrow morning! :))
It's OK to be a little sore. Your muscles might feel achy or tired the day after a tough training session thanks to DOMS, or delayed onset muscle soreness. When you strength train you're causing microscopic damage to the tissue that will be repaired, that's how you build stronger lean muscle. Speaking of repair and recovery, though, rest days are important. "If you constantly break down muscle without a recovery period, you won’t give the muscle fibers a chance to repair and build back stronger,” explains Davis.
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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.
To hammer this point home: Staci wrote the majority of our free guide, Strength Training 101: Everything You Need to Know. The videos we mention and link to within the guide are generally of her demonstrating them. And we know that women often have to face additional challenges when training in the weight section of a gym (usually it’s idiot dudes who think they need help, ugh).