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.
Over time, I started to see all those benefits people rave about beyond weight loss, like feeling clearer and cleaner. I also started losing weight, and way more than I expected. I lost 27 pounds in four months, going from 128 lbs to 101 lbs. And while some might think “Great! She nailed her diet,” keep in mind I’m only 5’5” and the truth was, I was getting into a very unhealthy place. I felt like if I wasn’t 110 percent committed, all my efforts would be vain. I became obsessed. In retrospect, I had became orthorexic, the condition of becoming unhealthily obsessed with a healthy diet.
Primarily, your diet should consist of whole foods. Sometimes, though, you can't get all the necessary nutrients from eating whole foods—even if you think your diet is perfect. That's where supplements swoop in. Supplements should complement your diet of whole foods; they should never be a replacement for something you intentionally leave out of your diet.
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."

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.

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. 

Put simply, "strength training means using resistance to create work for your muscles," says Hannah Davis, C.S.C.S. and author of Operation Bikini Body. So even if your mind jumps straight to those hardcore machines and massive weights, there are a lot of ways to create this resistance that require minimal equipment (or none at all). Bodyweight workouts can be an incredibly effective way to strength train. Squats and push-ups FTW. You can also use tools like dumbbells, medicine balls, TRX bands, resistance bands, kettlebells, and slider disks, to help get the job done, explains Davis. But if that sounds like gibberish don't worry about it. Keep it simple and focus on equipment-free routines first. No matter what you do, the most important thing is to find something that challenges you, says Davis.


I have been lifting for Over 10 years, and started out with The new rules of lifting. I loved all of the books that followed, female body breakthrough etc. I wanted to change things up, and found this workout. I am really enjoying it. With the other programs, you only workout 3 days, and it’s a whole body workout, no targeting specific parts I guess lol. So I was not used to working out this way, but as I said, I really like it. I wanted to make sure I am doing it right though. I am doing each exercise , 3 or 4’sets and then moving on to the next? I am used to doing supersets, I hope that makes sense :)

Now bring yourself into a standing position by simultaneously straightening your back and legs. Remember to keep your back straight – do not let it slouch, as this can cause injury. Once assuming the straight stance, stick your chest out and contract your shoulder blades. This is one repetition. Do at least five repetitions to build strength and muscle. Once you can do these repetitions easily, add weight to the bag.
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."
Great article. I’ve been in the weight room now for almost two months and I love it. Im 5’8 130 and I’m already seeing results. I have biceps! I went from the tiny weights to 35 lbs bicep concentration curls. My husband is my acting trainer. It was very intimidating at first but I actually get the head nods from the guys at the gym so I feel accepted. I think they are just trying to see if I keep coming back. I cant wait to see how far I can go.

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.
Hold two dumbbells with an overhand grip and let them hang at arm’s length in front of your thighs. Lift your left leg a few inches off the floor behind you; this is the starting position. Keeping your lower back naturally arched, hinge at your hips and lower your torso until it's almost parallel to the floor. Let your left leg stretch out behind you with your toes pointed down to the floor the entire time. The dumbbells should travel straight down toward the floor. Return to the starting position without letting the toes of your left foot touch the floor. That’s 1 rep. Do 2 sets per leg.
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!
If you got something out of this article, I’d really appreciate it if you’d share it with your friends, your gym buddies, and anyone else who you think might benefit.  Since women are so underrepresented in strength training research, I find that this is a topic with so much misinformation swirling around.  I hope this article can serve as a small beacon of sanity.
Powerlifting isn’t the only way to get results. Strength training comes in far more accessible forms as well—many of which do not even require a gym membership and certainly don’t require a personal trainer. Resistance bands, cheap strips of elastic that loop around arms or legs, are one good way to build strength without weights, for instance. A 2017 study showed that when frail women over 60 who were obese worked out with resistance bands for three months, they dropped body fat and increased bone density. Another option that involves even less equipment is to use your own body weight. Sitting up and down in a chair many times builds strength, as does jumping, which uses many of the legs’ major muscles. Even walking can count as strength training, depending on the intensity.
When the FFAs reach muscle tissue, they are transported into a muscle cell. Once in the muscle cell, the FFAs can re-esterfy (rebind) with glycerol to form triglycerides to be stored in the muscle or bind with intramuscular proteins to be used for energy production in the mitochondria. In the mitochondria, the fatty acids undergo beta-oxidation, meaning they are burned for energy.
Finally, strength training is essential for managing your body fat and maintaining a healthy body composition, and well… loving the way you look naked.  If weight loss is your goal, as you lose body fat, if you’re not strength training, it’s likely that your body will become a smaller, softer version of itself. While there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, in our experience working with women who want to “tone up” or “get in shape,” it’s a safe bet to say this is not the physical change you were expecting to see. However, if you strength train and add muscle as you reduce your body fat, your body becomes firmer and tighter, which is more along the lines of what many women envision when they embark on a weight loss journey. As we’ve said before, there is no wrong way to have a body. However, we want you to understand the physical effects that typically take place to help you ensure that all your effort leads you toward what you envision.
The recommended daily allowance of protein for SEDENTARY adults is 0.8 grams per kilogram of bodyweight (0.8g/kg) or 0.36 grams per pound of bodyweight (0.36g/lb). One should note that the recommended protein ratio is the same for both men and women. But what about active women, do they need more protein than sedentary women? The answer is a resounding YES.
Now, using a lot of force, quickly squat back up into a standing position while thrusting the pelvis forward.  Keep your arms straight, but don’t use your arms to lift it up. This action acts like a spring for the water jug, propelling the water jug forward. You want your thrust to propel the water jug to chest level. Do not use your arm strength to lift the water jug – your legs and pelvis should only initiate the water jug to move.
Led by Petra Kolber, a world-renowned fitness expert and motivational speaker, Step-by-Step Strength Training is divided into four short workouts. Two 10-minute segments target the lower and upper body, while two 20-minute segments offer a total-body tone up. Start with a couple of exercises and grow with the program, or mix and match them for a varied fitness routine. Expertly instructed and easy to follow, this program will get you fit and firm from head to toe!
As we said before, women need to lift heavy, challenging weights in order to gain muscle. Lifting heavy weights will not cause women to get big and bulky like men because women produce a fraction of the testosterone that men do. When women begin working out, their goals are to tone up and gain shape/curves and following this program will accomplish just that! In this 12-week program, you will decrease the number of reps you complete and increase the load you lift as you progress. The number of sets per exercise stays the same, but the rep range changes.
Finally, women also have to deal with the menstrual cycle (women taking hormonal contraceptives can probably ignore this paragraph).  There’s some evidence that women’s response to training varies based on menstrual cycle phase.  For starters, it takes women longer to recover from training during the luteal phase (last half) of the menstrual cycle.  Building on that, several studies (one, two, three) show that concentrating your training during the follicular phase (first half of the cycle) can lead to larger strength gains and more muscle growth than concentrating your training during the luteal phase or evenly dispersing it across the entire month.  On a more practical level, it’s probably not wise to use an extreme program like the ones used in those studies (for example, training 3-5 times per week during the follicular phase, and only once per week during the luteal phase), but it’s possible that you can increase your progress in the gym while minimizing overtraining risk by adding an extra workout or two per week during the follicular phase.  For example, if you normally train three times per week, every week, you could probably keep training three times per week during the luteal phase, but increase your frequency to four or five times per week during the follicular phase. This would help you take advantage of faster recovery rates and reap the benefits of the larger strength gains and enhanced muscle growth that occur during the follicular phase.
"I find I have so much more success when I work out at home. You don't have to worry about what you're wearing, what your hair looks like, or what anyone will think of you. It's also my only alone time during the day. I do high-intensity interval training workouts from FitnessBlender.com. For my strength-training workouts I use Body Pump from Les Mills on demand. And sometimes I just make up my own lifting workouts based on things I've read online and podcasts I listen to. After I started working out at home, I also switched to a Paleo diet. The changes have been slow, but I've lost more than 20 pounds and put on some serious muscles. I can actually feel the muscle in my arms now." —Ami Paulsen, Denver, CO
Thank you so much for this article, what a breathe of fresh air!!! I have been an athlete all of my life and have done very intense training with weights and have never looked like a man! When I was training my hardest back in the old high school days, I could lift 400 pounds on the leg press machine and never had man legs. I would bench press 80 or so pounds and didn’t have a man’s upper body. As a matter of fact, with a mix of heavy lifting days, with lighter lifting days (high intensity super sets, keeping the heart rate up, essentially cardio/strengthening rolled into one) I dropped my body fat percentage from 25% to 21% looked super lean yet with lots of muscle. I was 5’4 and 121 pounds. I was lifting as much as I could at the time, and I looked perfectly feminine. I was a sporty, fit, lean & ripped girl. I just cannot believe how pervasive this myth is among women. I have had to to tell women exactly what you are saying in this article, because they are so afraid that one single day of heavy weight lifting in the gym will cause them to balloon into Arnold Schwarzenegger over night! I want to see more attractive sporty and muscular women on magazines instead of these waifs who are unhealthy and provide the wrong image for women to strive for. They are only endorsing the best way to suffer from osteoporosis and getting blown away by a strong gust of wind. Keep up the good work on all of your articles that shatter the most prevalent training myths and give people the real info straight up.
This is important. Lifting weights on stiff or “cold” joints and muscles will make it harder to move, and you’ll increase the risk of injury. If you’re weight training, warm your body up either with some cardiovascular activity that utilizes the muscles you’re going to work, or do a short set with a lighter amount of weight than you’re planning to use for your workout.
If you’re new to strength training, simply moving and manipulating the weight of your own body can lead to some desired adaptation within your body in terms of getting stronger and adding muscle mass.  In fact, it’s vitally important to master the basics of movement and being able to comfortably handle your own body weight before you add external load (i.e., anything you can add to increase the resistance of a movement, like a band, a sandbag, a chain, a kettlebell, a dumbbell, or a barbell).
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.

This is important. Lifting weights on stiff or “cold” joints and muscles will make it harder to move, and you’ll increase the risk of injury. If you’re weight training, warm your body up either with some cardiovascular activity that utilizes the muscles you’re going to work, or do a short set with a lighter amount of weight than you’re planning to use for your workout.

If you got something out of this article, I’d really appreciate it if you’d share it with your friends, your gym buddies, and anyone else who you think might benefit.  Since women are so underrepresented in strength training research, I find that this is a topic with so much misinformation swirling around.  I hope this article can serve as a small beacon of sanity.
Why she switched: As I’ve become a more advanced practitioner of yoga (I am now a yoga teacher and wellness influencer), I have been craving more. I used to leave a level 3, two-hour yoga class exhausted, but now I am ready for more. I also wanted a more drastic improvement in muscle mass. I have always been fairly thin and petite, but as I get older, I desire to have more of a physique. So, I decided to add in weightlifting about three or four weeks ago.

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.

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.


If you don’t have a ball you can perform the exercises on the floor or a bench. For each exercise below perform 8-12 repetitions and rest for 30-60 seconds in between exercises. Move slowly through each exercise concentrating on proper form and continued breathing. And don’t forget, it’s always helpful to have guidance. If you have the ability to reach out to a fitness professional — even if it is just for one session — he or she can help take you through proper form and teach you how to move properly for your body. Enjoy your new fountain of youth.


"I found Cathe Friedrich on FitTV about seven years ago. I bought her Strong & Sweaty DVDs and fell in love with her workouts. Cathe inspires me because she is in her fifties, but is as fit as ever. Even though I'm a lot younger than her, I still find her workouts to be amazing—and probably the most challenging. Her newer workouts are my current favorites because they are short and intense, utilizing high-intensity interval training and heavy weights. I lost my baby weight (I have three kids), and I've put on 10 pounds of muscle. My kids love that I can do pullups at the playground with them." —Sierra Schwartz, Buffalo, MN
Not all strength training videos require steps, dumbbells and barbells. One such video is Jennifer Galardi's "Ballet Body Workout," which blends elegant strength-training moves with dynamic stretching for body conditioning that emphasizes the lower body. The "New York City Ballet" workout, geared toward advanced exercisers, features two workouts performed by NYC Ballet dancers, 114 minutes total. If you want to be free of equipment but you're not interested in dance, then try Kelly Coffey's "30 Minutes to Fitness: Body Training" video. Two 30-minute workouts sculpt your body without any equipment, just your own body weight. Or, for a great lower body challenge, try Ilaria's "BodyStrikes."
When we obsess solely on our physique, we end up miserable and we never get the body we want because that perfect body doesn’t exist. When you focus on wellbeing, though, you become proud of how far your body has come and happy with how great you feel. Focusing on what you can accomplish rather than what you look like is how you become the best version of yourself.
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