Add some dumbbells to your fitness routine and build some metabolism-boosting muscle while toning your entire body. We leave no muscle untouched with this workout, so grab a set of dumbbells between five and 25 pounds. Better yet, grab two sets — so you can challenge yourself on a few of the moves with heavier weights. The more often and consistently you lift, the more you will be able to lift!
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.
The book is clearly written by a woman who enjoys yoga and balance balls. She demonstrates exercises for the absolute beginner, and the steps you can take to challenge yourself further as your fitness improves. There are plenty of options for home or gym, and lots of helpful tips. Most exercises use your own body weight, light hand weights, resistance band, or balance ball.
However, I am not stupid and I know that most moms just do not have that extra time to make it to the gym everyday-this is why I created my very own and affordable 12 week home workout program that uses barely ANY equipment! Instead, the program uses your bodyweight and one pair of dumbbells. It is absolutely perfect for busy mommies who want to workout when baby is asleep, for when it is super cold or super hot ouside, or just want to workout in the comfort of their own home.
"Exhale: Core Fusion--Pure Arms & Abs" is a gently flowing mix of Pilates, ballet, yoga and dance. "Pilates for Beginners with Kristen McGee" starts with Pilates toning basics and slowly adds more challenges, making it appropriate for beginner through intermediate-level exercisers. Bryan Kest's "Power Yoga" series includes a collection of three 50-minute intermediate to advanced power yoga workouts that tone, define and challenge your body to go beyond its comfort zone. Karen Voight's "Pilates Total Body Training" workout features Pilates-based routines that use a Pilates Circle device. If you enjoy the challenge of both yoga and Pilates then Karen Voight's "YogaSculpt" might be for you. It integrates yoga, muscle toning and Pilates mat routines.

There are some things on here that you can do from home if you own the equipment, such as I do, but there are some things you cannot do without going to a gym… because who really owns a Leg press in their home? That is why there are alternatives to almost ANY exercises such as using resistance bands instead of cables for the cable curls, etc. Tweak the program to best suit your needs!
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.

I also like that you mentioned the menstrual cycle differences. Many women and coaches aren’t aware of this (although intuitively they should have been), but it does make a difference. I did a write up on this a few months back, and a big key I see here as well is the impact on appetite (more research on this) and perceived exertion (more anecdotal). Useful for dieting phases to work that in as well. Or for a little recomp
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.
Thank you for covering women for a change! As an older women I am always looking for information on both groups. I have found that I do better with higher reps simply because heavier weights end up causing me injuries. I think it may be because we start so much weaker (especially me!) that we are more likely to have imbalances if we miss a muscle. Does that make sense? I also get into situations often where I can do one weight many times but can’t really do a higher weight at all. (ie 10# 16 times but 12# not at all with decent form.) So I am now using weight gloves to achieve in between weights. I usually use weights I can lift 12-15 times to (or almost to) failure, doing 3 sets total but in rotation so I have some time to recover. Is that a reasonable approach?
Yep, I think that’s a reasonable approach. And it makes sense that it could be hard making a jump from 10 pounds to 12 pounds. On one hand, it’s just two pounds. On the other hand, that’s a 20% load increase! Proportionally, it would be the same as someone increasing their working weight for squats from 500lbs to 600lbs overnight. That would be brutal!
Lie with your back on a bench, glutes squeezed and feet flat on the floor. Hold medium-weight dumbbells directly over your shoulders. Squeeze your shoulder blades. Keeping your left arm straight, lower the right dumbbell to your chest; pause when it’s an inch from your chest then drive it back up. Repeat on the other side. Alternate reps on both sides until time is up. Do 3 sets.
I like this article; it’s great to see someone talking about how women should work out the same way men do, and I love all your BS calling. Please, please know, though, that there are lots of women who WANT to get big. We don’t all want to be skinny and little. I want big f**king muscles. I know I won’t bulk up like most men will. But we’ve all got different goals, and the “3lb pink dumbbells” comes off as condescending.
Celebrity fitness instructor Tracy Anderson (clients include Madonna, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Jennifer Lopez) offers six 10-minute, total-body dance workouts in this DVD. The first lesson covers basic steps, while the other routines have titles like "Cardio Party" and "Sweat Fest." Don't worry if you have two left feet though, as Anderson says even novice dancers can master these moves.
How much weight should you use? I can’t answer that, specifically. The first thing you must do is learn how to correctly perform each exercise. Once you’re confident with the movement, use a challenging weight for every exercise, and get stronger every time you repeat the workout (more on this below). What does a “challenging weight” mean? You should have to focus and work fairly hard using an appropriate weight for the provided rep range. Stated another way: If you can easily perform 10 or more reps with a weight or variation when the goal is to perform challenging sets of 5-8 reps, it’s too easy. Use warm-up sets to find the correct weight.
There's a longer-term benefit to all that lifting, too: Muscle accounts for about a third of the average woman's weight, so it has a profound effect on her metabolism, says Kenneth Walsh, director of Boston University School of Medicine's Whitaker Cardiovascular Institute. Specifically, that effect is to burn extra calories, because muscle, unlike fat, is metabolically active. In English: Muscle chews up calories even when you're not in the gym. Replace 10 pounds of fat with 10 pounds of lean muscle and you'll burn an additional 25 to 50 calories a day without even trying.
Sit on the ground, with your right leg directly in front of you, bent 90 degrees at the knee, knee flat on the ground. Your left leg should be behind you, also bent 90 degrees at the knee, knee flat on the ground Your thighs should also form a 90-degree angle with each other. Now place your hands on the floor on each side of your right leg; slowly lower your chest toward your knee. Go only as low as you can while keeping your shoulders square. Pause and feel the stretch. Return to the start position, then swivel your hips so your left leg is now directly in front of you and repeat the process.
Trimfat targets all of the fat loss pathways; Trimfat increases fat breakdown, increases blood flow so the fatty acids can be transported to tissues to be burned, increases the burning of fatty acids, and blocks the Alpha2 receptors which are responsible for stubborn fat. Using Trimfat will allow you to lose fat like never before and get rid of that stubborn fat! Say goodbye to hip and thigh fat for good!
However, I am not stupid and I know that most moms just do not have that extra time to make it to the gym everyday-this is why I created my very own and affordable 12 week home workout program that uses barely ANY equipment! Instead, the program uses your bodyweight and one pair of dumbbells. It is absolutely perfect for busy mommies who want to workout when baby is asleep, for when it is super cold or super hot ouside, or just want to workout in the comfort of their own home.

The bodybuilder standby for sets and reps is usually 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps. That's usually the right rep range for muscle growth (hypertrophy). If you're a beginner, make sure your first rep looks just like your last rep. If you fail on the 8th rep, use lighter weight. If you're unfamiliar with many of the movements, stick with lighter weight until you have a great foundation and feel comfortable challenging yourself; this will help you avoid injury.


However, since most women use workout routines comprised of little “girly” weights and super high reps, and are only interested in workouts that avoid big compound exercises, using lower reps, using free weights, and absolutely never attempt to make progressive overload happen or lift anything heavier today than they lifted 100 workouts ago… most women will never build any muscle.

Though BeFit is another company that provides the majority of it’s content via paid downloads, subscription services and DVDs, it can still be a great resource for free, at-home workouts. It boasts a plethora of videos in the 10 to 20-minute range, done by top fitness trainers like Denise Austin, Jane Fonda and Scott Herman, to name a few. While this channel is perfect for those who want to raise their heart rate in a shorter amount of time, there are a handful of longer videos sprinkled throughout the lineup for those with more time available. Unlike a few in this list, this channel is definitely not aimed specifically at women and has many workouts that would be suitable for men looking for a challenge.


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!!
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.

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! 😀
If you've ever tried to ditch the saddlebags and ended up a bra size smaller instead, you know that where you lose is as important as how much. As great as it might be to see the numbers on the scale go down, when you're on a strict cardio-only program your victory is likely to be empty. A recent study at the University of Alabama at Birmingham compared dieters who lifted three times a week with those who did aerobic exercise for the same amount of time. Both groups ate the same number of calories, and both lost the same amount—26 pounds—but the lifters lost pure chub, while about 8 percent of the aerobicizers' drop came from valuable muscle. Researchers have also found that lifting weights is better than cardio at whittling intra-abdominal fat—the Buddha-belly kind that's associated with diseases from diabetes to cancer.
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 .
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.
Different exercises will require different weights, but there are some markers that can help guide you towards the right resistance, whether you're using dumbbells, kettlebells, or a barbell. Go for a weight that feel heavy enough to challenge you, but not so heavy that you sacrifice your form. For example, if you're doing 15 reps, you should feel pretty fatigued by the time you hit rep 15. If you can breeze through all your reps, though, that's a sign you should up the weight.
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.

Hold light-to-medium-weight dumbbells at your sides, then brace your core and hinge at your hips until your torso is at about a 45-degree angle with the ground. Let your arms hang naturally with the weights. Squeeze your shoulder blades and continue bracing your core. This is the start. Keeping your shoulder blades squeezed, row the right dumbbell upwards, driving your elbow up high and pulling the dumbbell to your ribcage. Pause then return to the start. Repeat on the other side. Alternate reps on both sides until time is up. Do 3 sets.


Start in pushup position, hands directly under your shoulders, feet slightly wider than shoulder-width. Raise your hips high, bending at the waist. (Shift your feet forward if you need to.) Keep your legs straight as you do this, stretching your hamstrings, and try to form a straight line with your arms and torso. Return to pushup position. That’s 1 rep.
Why she switched: I made the switch to more heavy lifting and dedicated powerlifting because I was always injured. I would get at least two injuries a year that would knock me out for two months, many of them stress fractures. So I knew I needed to build stronger bones, hips and glutes to support my endurance activities, and the light weightlifting wasn’t cutting it. A CrossFit gym near my house was starting an eight-week powerlifting class that was going to provide a program and culminate in a competition. It was great to have the support and coaching for the proper form. I ended up adapting quickly and falling in love with the heavy lifts and the powerlifting program. I broke six Illinois state records at the competition and was hooked. I also did not get injured that year.
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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.
A more manageable way to track your eating habits is to identify reasonable portion sizes. Most restaurants in America shove heaping piles of food in your face to appeal to your economical compass. More food means more value for your money, right? Getting more Bang Bang Chicken and Shrimp for your buck merely means you pay for it elsewhere, like your waistline. And it's not just at restaurants. People pile their plates high with Grandma's spaghetti even when they're at home.
Now that we’ve given you an idea of how good strength training is for women, let’s talk about what strength training is. Strength training is any type of movement or exercise that imposes an increasing demand on your muscles and/or central nervous system, causing an adaptation. Contrary to what many people believe, lifting heavy weights is not even necessary in the beginning.

Place your right foot on a bench or box that’s about knee height, bending your knee slightly, and step your left foot about 18 inches away. Your left leg should be almost straight. Bend your left knee, sitting back; your right knee will bend more as you do this and nearly touch the floor. Hold when your left thigh is parallel to the floor, then stand back up. That’s 1 rep; do 2 sets per leg.


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Want to lose fat and achieve a toned looking physique? Fantastic! To achieve those results you must improve your strength training performance every time you repeat a workout. As a beginner strength trainee, getting stronger must be your sole priority in the gym. For the first several months you should (a) perform more reps with the same weight, (b) increase the weight, and/or (c) perform more sets for each exercise.
And remember to fuel your workout properly. Too many dieters make the fatal error of cutting back on crucial muscle-maintaining protein when they want to slash their overall calorie intake. The counterproductive result: They lose muscle along with any fat that might have melted away. Sports nutritionist Cassandra Forsythe, Ph.D., co-author of The New Rules of Lifting for Women, recommends that you eat one gram of protein for every pound of your body weight that does not come from fat. For instance, a 140-pound woman whose body fat is 25 percent would need 105 grams of high-quality protein. That's roughly four servings a day; the best sources are chicken or other lean meats, soy products, and eggs.
Vasocharge is formulated to allow you to increase the intensity of your workouts while delaying fatigue, which results in greater progress being made. VasoCharge increases energy production and power output, decreases H+ accumulation and fatigue, and increases blood flow and the delivery of amino acids to skeletal muscle, making it an all-in-one pre-workout powerhouse.

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.


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.
Thank you for covering women for a change! As an older women I am always looking for information on both groups. I have found that I do better with higher reps simply because heavier weights end up causing me injuries. I think it may be because we start so much weaker (especially me!) that we are more likely to have imbalances if we miss a muscle. Does that make sense? I also get into situations often where I can do one weight many times but can’t really do a higher weight at all. (ie 10# 16 times but 12# not at all with decent form.) So I am now using weight gloves to achieve in between weights. I usually use weights I can lift 12-15 times to (or almost to) failure, doing 3 sets total but in rotation so I have some time to recover. Is that a reasonable approach?

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 unfortunate problem with injury prevention is that no one seems to worry about it until they’re already injured or in pain.  On the surface, some women appear to be exceptionally strong, but upon closer inspection, they’re actually ticking time bombs for an injury because they never built a solid foundation of good movement before piling on the heavy weights.
This is true and this should be the focus. Not ‘you can’t get bulky so lift’. I’m a dancer and heavy weight training ruined my lines (which I need to work). I’m fit and strong either way but I need to be more careful with how I train because looks matter to me professionally. It would be nice to hear trainers talk more about how they tailor workouts to clients needs and wishes than to make sweeping statements about women’s bodies.
You should follow this up during your workout by sipping 2-3 servings of Xtend throughout your entire workout. This will ensure protein synthesis levels stay elevated and your body is primed for growth. While many people overlook the power of workout nutrition, with the Scivation Workout Nutrition Stack you can be ensured that your body has the nutrients and substrates it needs to performance better than ever and gain the lean muscle you never could before while supporting fat loss.
As for muscle growth, there are certainly women who are genetically better at building muscle than other women… just like some men have better genetics for it than other men. But even then, the worst case scenario is that she builds whatever amount of muscle she’d like to build faster than the average woman can (which, by the way, is still fairly slow) and then just stops trying to build additional muscle beyond that point by simply training to maintain rather than progress.
There are a lot of misconceptions about strength training for women, and there are a lot of reasons for those misconceptions.  Women are less likely to be represented in exercise research, women are less likely to take part in strength training or compete in strength sports, and there are still a lot of societal biases against women lifting (heavy) weights.
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