While your body naturally produces vitamin D when you're under the sun, you're likely vitamin D deficient, especially if you have an office job or live in a region in which sunshine is a rare luxury. This deficiency affects overall health, and some studies suggest it may even hamper athletic performance and recovery from exercise. If you can't get enough vitamin D from the sun or from your diet, taking a supplement would be the next best thing.
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?
To go a little deeper, we can look at powerlifting meet results to see how the gap between men and women shifts when comparing less competitive lifters to more competitive lifters. As mentioned in a previous article, women lift about 67% as much as men in the squat, 56% in the bench, and 71% in the deadlift, on average (using allometric scaling to correct for differences in body mass). However, those gaps are larger when looking at less successful lifters (those in the 10th percentile of relative strength) and smaller when looking at more successful lifters (those in the 90th percentile of relative strength). A 5th percentile woman has about 62% as much relative strength as a 5th percentile man in the squat, 53% in the bench, and 67% in the deadlift. On the other hand, a 95th percentile woman has about 71% as much relative strength as a 95th percentile man in the squat, 60% in the bench, and 75% in the deadlift. An analysis of weightlifting results in CrossFitters had similar findings (though they didn’t correct for differences in body mass): larger sex gaps in snatch and clean & jerk performance in lower-level lifters and smaller gaps in higher-level lifters.
Each program is 12 weeks in length. When you've completed your first 12 weeks (Beginner), you can go on to the next 12-week program (Intermediate), and on to (advanced), and so on; or develop your own program by following the principles and guidelines in the Strength Training Contents (on-line "how-to" manual) and the exercise instructions and the demonstrations. And feel assured, our fitness experts will personally help you every step of the way!
This program would be an excellent choice with those goals in mind. In terms of calories, I'd recommend maintenance for the first month, +200 the second, and + 200 the third. Lastly, you can skip some of the optional cardio if you wish or you can adjust your calorie intake to account for the calories burned if you'd like to obtain the cardiovascular benefits.
If you work out in a crowded gym, venturing to the free weight area may be intimidating. To make this easier you can recruit a friend to work out with you and you two can support and encourage each other. If you work out solo, load your favorite music onto your phone and listen to it while you train so you can focus on why you’re there and what you’re doing, and drown out everything else around you. You’ll still have to deal with the stench of stale sweat and cheap cologne, but at least you won’t have to hear men grunting as they flex in the mirror.
Increase the number of repetitions you complete. For example, if you’re currently completing 10 repetitions with proper form before moving on to the next heavier weight, increase that number to 12 and then 15. Once you can complete 15 reps with ease and proper form, increase the resistance by 5%. This “double progressive training protocol” is effective for strength development and helps reduce the risk of increasing the amount of weight before you’re ready.
Fast forward to now and I’m incredibly proud of where I’ve gotten in the past few years. I’m a personal trainer and group fitness instructor in NYC. I went from zero strength to being able to dead-lift over 200 pounds, doing several pullups in a row, and can clean and jerk almost my body weight. [Editor’s note: “Clean and jerk” refers to a weightlifting movement in which the barbell is pulled up to chest and shoulder height and then hoisted above the head.] I tell every woman I meet to stop being shy and get in that weight room! If you don’t know where to begin, hire someone. You will never realize what your body is truly capable of until you start picking up real weights.
Getting comfortable with a steady running routine is definitely something to be proud of, but when you're on that cardio grind day-in and day-out, you might be ready to change things up and take on a new challenge. Time to throw some strength training into the mix. It can be a little intimidating at first if you don't know where the hell to start, but understanding the basics can help you feel confident in your refreshed fitness routine.
While many people advocate eating a low-carb diet for weight loss, it's not always ideal. Weight loss may come easily at first, but chronically low amounts of carbohydrates could have negative downstream effects in the long run. A woman's delicately balanced hormone system can be disrupted by low carb availability, which could bring about unwanted side effects like loss of bone density and chronic sleep deprivation. On a low-carb diet, some women may experience stopped or irregular periods because the body perceives chronically low energy levels as starvation and stress.
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.
The express route to a two-piece starts here: Bikini Body: Absolution. The pair of 20-minute workouts take the burn-and-firm approach to cinching with a cardio-focused session of jumps, squats, lunges and planks, then a toning series of what a reviewer described as "new-to-me ab exercises that kick the typical crunch's booty." Get ready for the wood-chopping arabesque move, one tester jokingly warned. So sore but so sleek!
How: Using 8- to 15-pound dumbbells, stand behind a chair. Place your feet under your hips and fold forward so that your head can rest comfortably on the chair or surface. Keep your knees slightly bent and your neck relaxed. Begin with your palms facing each other directly under your shoulders. Bend your elbows and pull the dumbbells towards you until your palms are next to your ribs. Draw the shoulder blades together at the top. Pause for two seconds, then slowly release back to the starting position. That's one repetition. Aim for 12 to 15 reps.
What better place to learn how to exercise at home than eHowFitness! This YouTube channel provides specific workout ideas and health tips from leading fitness experts and popular celebrity trainers. Videos provided here focus on weight loss, breathing exercises, water workouts, stretching exercises and even workouts for kids. They also have niche exercise videos like this one for expectant mothers.
Many people think of running or putting in 30 minutes on the elliptical as an example of moderate intensity cardio. While this is technically true, you can do any activity that keeps your heart rate in that 120 to 140 range. Of course, if you love running, who are we to make you stop? Just keep in mind that as “simple” as running seems, it’s an extremely advanced exercise that’s repetitive and high-impact. If it’s not done with great form, your likelihood of injury increases significantly (just like with lifting weights).
The term “adrenaline” is commonly used to refer to the body’s excitatory catecholamines, Epinephrine (E) and Norepinephrine (NE), which are regulators of lipolysis (fat breakdown). NE and E acts on receptors called adrenergic receptors of which there are alpha (1 & 2) and beta (1, 2, & 3) subtypes. Activation of the alpha1 and beta-receptors is lipolytic (causes fat breakdown) while activation of the alpha2 receptor is anti-lipolytic (blunts fat breakdown). Stubborn fat areas have a high density of alpha2 receptors, making it harder for fat breakdown to occur in that area. If you are a women this means you have a large amount of alpha2 receptors in your thighs and glutes.
I just want to let you know that this article is absolute gold. You’re the real MVP for conducting a meta-analysis on this topic, especially when it’s so hard to find much research out there. More importantly, you’ve paved a way to explain more fully why strength training is so great for women to women and the benefits of it in comparison to men. Research is not only assuring and affirming, but it’s convincing for people who dabble with the idea of something, so thank you! Anyways, very well done and please keep doing what you’re doing!
You may have heard hardcore lifters talk about things like "leg day," but when it comes to a beginner strength workout that's only a few days a week, a full-body workout is often the way to go (rather than splitting your days up by body part). "Full-body workouts maximize your caloric burn and the muscles worked each session," says Davis. The best way to do this is to pair one upper body exercise with one lower body exercise. "This way, the lower body has time to recover while the upper body works and vice-versa," says Davis. You should also aim for a balance between movements that feel like pulling and ones that feel like pushing. For example, Davis suggests pairing these exercises together:
How: Begin with your hands directly under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Contract the muscles of your core and stabilize your pelvis and shoulders. Shift your balance onto your left knee and your right hand. In one movement, extend your right leg back behind you and your left arm outin front of you. Extend both as far as possible and hold for 2 seconds. Slowly release both back to the starting position. That's one repetition. Immediately switch sides and perform the same with the left leg and right arm. Continue alternating sides for a total of 20 reps.
How: Lie on the floor with your knees bent at 90 degrees and feet flat. Hold 5- to 8-pound dumbbells directly over your chest with your palms facing each other. Press your shoulders away from your ears and downward toward your hips to stabilize your core. With a very slight bend at the elbows, open your arms out to the sides until your upper arms touch the floor. Do not fully release the tension in your arms, or allow your wrists to touch the floor. Contract the muscles in your chest to return the dumbbells back to the starting position. That's one repetition. Aim to complete 12 to 15 reps.
Great notes! However, since people reading this might be forwarding to their girlfriend, wives, fiancees, etc, you might want to include a small section that identifies what 1 pound of muscle means. It would be a guess but most women reading this will go, “What is 10 lbs of muscle? I don’t want that!” It might say how many pounds of muscle she might need to look “toned.”
Let’s not forget how resistance training speeds up your metabolism. With every pound of muscle you build, you will burn an additional 35-50 calories a day, even at a resting rate, and that adds up: if you gain 4.5 lbs of muscle, that’s an extra 150 calories burned a day, which is 4,500 extra calories burned each month, and THAT adds up to losing about 15 lbs a year. HELLO!
I wish I’d found this 15 or so years ago when I was a dance student! Back then I had a “dancer’s physique” because I spent 3-4 hours in the studio daily either in dance technqique classes, barre/floor barre exercises or Pilates based body conditioning classes and I ate a vegan diet. However, I was also tired from over-training and plagued with repetitive strain injuries (not helped by my low protein, low fat diet).
I’m sure there are some people in a state of mild disbelief as this point. After all, men have more testosterone, and testosterone is anabolic; therefore, men should be at a huge advantage when it comes to building muscle and gaining strength, right? An implication of this analysis is that, assuming a given woman and a given man start with similar amounts of muscle mass and strength, they’d be likely to gain the same amount of muscle and strength if they both started lifting. That just doesn’t sit right with some people.
If you have a limited amount of time to train, say for example, 45 to 60 minutes, a couple of times a week, then we recommend prioritizing strength training, with possibly a quick, high-intensity interval training session or moderate-intensity cardio session at the end, and you’re done. However, if you have more time to devote to working out, then adding in a little more cardio can also be beneficial.
Ask 100 women this year what their New Year’s resolution will be and a third will likely answer “weight loss” in to look fitter and more toned. Many of these women will join a gym (or actually start using their membership) and center their workout around high-intensity sessions on the treadmill, elliptical, or any other cardio machine. Running on the treadmill 4 days a week may help you lose body fat, but without adding on muscle, it won’t give you that tight, toned look.