If someone else wants to use the equipment too, you can offer to let them “work in with you” – which means they do their sets while you rest, and vice versa. If you’re not comfortable with this (and chances are for your first few workouts you won’t be), it’s okay to say no or not offer. If you say no, be nice about it. Say something like “I’m almost done, just one more set and it’s all yours!” If you are comfortable with it, usually you and the other person will work together to change the weights in between each set.
Builds bone density: Unexpected falls put countless older people in the hospital every year. An 8-year-old puts a cast on his arm and gets back to playing in 8 weeks. An 80-year-old isn’t quite so fortunate. The ramifications of broken bones can be devastating. Strength training can help. One study in New Zealand on women 80 years of age and older showed a 40 percent reduction in falls with simple strength and balance training.
I am a 47 year old woman that has been athletic all my life. I love to tinker with my own training – my training goals are somewhat contradictory – faster 1/2 marathon times and stronger lifts. I just discovered your content a few months ago (MASS subscriber as well) and have found it extremely helpful in trying to create plans that achieve both without over training. But I really appreciate the attention and info for female athletes – this article in particular. There is much more work to be done by the research community – but anything that continues to educate women about the value of resistance training is a needed step to a healthier community
A 1985 study by Hunter had men and women do full-body training either three or four times per week for seven weeks.  Lean body mass increased by less than a kilo in all four groups, and bench press strength increased significantly more in the group training four times per week than the group training three times per week.  The male subjects increased their bench press by 11.87% and 16.69% in the groups training three and four times per week, respectively, while the female subjects increased their bench press by 19.54% and 33.33%.  Strength gains were not significantly different between the sexes.
In the first few minutes, Leslie Sansone’s programs feel reminiscent of cheesy 1980s workout videos full of ever-present smiles, constant beats and tightly synchronized movements. After completing one of her 45-minute videos and probably working up a sweat, you’ll quickly realize that her walks are so much more than meets the eye. By incorporating interval training (even if not expressly stated) and keeping participants moving for the entirety of the practice, Walk at Home provides a full workout with zero equipment. It’s perfect for people who may be dealing with various physical limitations, or just want to find an alternative form of cardio to the classic options. For beginners, we recommend the shorter, one mile walks; to kick it up a notch, try the weighted videos for added strength training.
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.
Next, squeeze your glutes – this helps stabilize you – and push the bag up in a straight line. You may have to move your head back while pressing it up to ensure it goes up in a straight line. Hold the gym bag above your head with your arms straight for a couple of seconds before lowering the bag back to your shoulders. This is one repetition. Continue for up to 12 repetitions.
What she does now: Now I spend more time on weights than cardio. Your body actually works harder and longer during and after weightlifting than cardio, so you get a bigger bang for your buck. As a working mom, it’s hard to find time to get to the gym, but I make an effort to lift three to four times a week. I focus on different areas each day — legs, back and biceps, triceps and chest, and shoulders. I try to incorporate a short abs workout into every session, too. I never do the same workout routine twice. I want my body to be surprised, and challenge my muscles in a different way each week. I do a mix of machines, free weights and body weight exercises. In addition to lifting, I still do cardio about two to three times a week. I’ve been teaching Zumba for six years and I love it. I’m able to burn upward of 750 calories a class. I also walk a lot with my family.
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.
“There are so many misconceptions about strength and resistance training,” says Larry Tucker, a professor in exercise sciences at Brigham Young University. “One is that you’ll become muscle-bound”—so bulked up that your body becomes rigid. That myth was somewhat dispelled when athletes who started strength-training saw that they could hit a ball farther, jump higher and run faster, Tucker says. “Gradually we started realizing there are benefits beyond sports.”
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).
Stand holding medium-weight dumbbells at your sides, feet hip-width apart, core braced, knees slightly bent. This is the start. Hinge at your hips and push your butt backward, lowering your torso. Hinge until you feel a slight stretch in your hamstrings; focus on keeping your core braced as you do this. From this position, squeeze your shoulder blades and row the dumbbells to your ribcage. Pause, then lower the dumbbells and stand up, squeezing your glutes. That’s 1 rep. Do 3 sets.
As for yoga, it is a wonderful form of exercise. But it is not the best way to change your body. I practice yoga for the relaxation benefits of it and the breath control. Everyone in my yoga class asks me how to get cuts in their arms. Yoga is an excellent complement to strength training but it does not change your body the way strength training does.
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.
While your total caloric intake is the most important diet factor, the ratio of protein to carbs to fat can dictate whether the weight you gain/lose is muscle or fat. A diet that contains 80% of calories from carbs, 10% from protein, and 10% from fat will produce different results than a diet containing 40% of calories from carbs, 40% from protein, and 20% from fat.
The exact duration, frequency and intensity depends on each person’s individual needs and preferences. And even more importantly, their goals. Someone interested only in muscle growth has no true need for cardio and may not do any. Someone looking to lose fat on the other hand may need cardio to create their deficit. Then again, that same person could have created their deficit through diet alone and therefore no longer needs cardio.
Simply put, some areas in the body have more receptors that block fat breakdown than receptors that increase fat breakdown. In men, these areas are the lower abs and love handles. In women, they are the thighs and butt. We will discuss the physiological factors controlling fat loss and then go over a stubborn-fat cardio protocol and then beneficial supplements for losing stubborn fat.
With that out of the way, this article is going to start with a review of the research comparing strength and muscle growth in men and women.  After that, I’ll focus just on the research using participants with prior training experience, and then I’ll review the inferences we can draw from sex differences in strength sports.  At the end, I’ll discuss some other sex differences and female-specific considerations beyond rates of strength gains and muscle growth.
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.
Why: "Due to gravitational pull, we are constantly fighting a battle to keep our body upright with good alignment," says Perkins. "This move strengthens all of the muscles in your back improving both bone density of the spine and proper integration of the spinal column. It also helps to fight off the decrease in bone that occurs over 50 and will keep your posture upright."
I’m a weight lifter, and I’m not afraid of the freeweights, nor the heavy ones. I went to a gym test session at a “girly” gym, and was so annoyed at the girl’s surprise that I was capable of tripling most of her clients’ weight limits. And I haven’t regularly lifted in months. So even now, seriously out of condition, I’m capable of lifting more than most.
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.
What she does now: Now I spend more time on weights than cardio. Your body actually works harder and longer during and after weightlifting than cardio, so you get a bigger bang for your buck. As a working mom, it’s hard to find time to get to the gym, but I make an effort to lift three to four times a week. I focus on different areas each day — legs, back and biceps, triceps and chest, and shoulders. I try to incorporate a short abs workout into every session, too. I never do the same workout routine twice. I want my body to be surprised, and challenge my muscles in a different way each week. I do a mix of machines, free weights and body weight exercises. In addition to lifting, I still do cardio about two to three times a week. I’ve been teaching Zumba for six years and I love it. I’m able to burn upward of 750 calories a class. I also walk a lot with my family.

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! 😀
When best friends and trainers Karena Dawn and Katrina Scott created Tone It Up, no one could have predicted the success of the company’s long-distance coaching methods just a few years later. Unfortunately, a few key factors are not free, such as the highly-praised nutrition plan and yearly workout DVDs. However, it is still possible to be incredibly successful with the shorter—but still dense—workout videos and recipes posted on YouTube. The best home regimen combines YouTube and the trainers’ website, on which they post daily plans combining multiple videos from the channel to create a full workout. To take it a step further, connect with the TIU community on Instagram for daily check-ins and challenges—such as the yearly Bikini Challenge.
This comment made me think about my husband pointing out to me that my upper traps are getting too big. He doesn’t like it. In fact, he doesn’t like me building muscle at all, and insists I need to be doing low weights and high reps to only “tone”. “You don’t need to be struggling on those heavy lists, you get more range of motion on the low weight, high reps”. “That’s all you need” he says. I feel so discouraged by not having the support, but I won’t stop my lifting (and heavy at that). I love lifting weights, and I love challenging myself with the heavier lifts.
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.
How: Lie on your back with your feet on the floor and your knees bent so that there's a 90-degree angle at the back of your knees. Place your hands on your thighs with your upper body relaxed. On an exhale, slowly roll your chin towards your chest and lift up until your shoulders lift off the floor. Your hands will slide upward toward your knees. Continue lifting up until your shoulders are completely off the floor or your fingertips reach your knees. Pause at the top for 2 seconds, then slowly lower back down to the starting position. That's one repetition. Aim for 20 to 30 reps.
Cardio history: In college, I gained more than the typical “freshman 15.” Once I graduated, I was fed up with being insecure about my body. I decided to try Zumba since I liked dancing and wasn’t a big fan of other fitness activities. I fell in love! I went two to three times a week at first. Once I started to feel better about working out, I started doing cycle classes, too. I’d say at that time, I was doing about four to five cardio classes a week. Eventually, I decided to get licensed in both Zumba and cycle and started teaching a few classes a week. I was still intimidated by weightlifting, so I kept to cardio because I was seeing weight loss.
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.

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.
"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
To begin, hold a water jug in each hand and keep your arms straight by the sides of your body. Face away from the coffee table or chair. Prop one of your feet on a coffee table or chair so that your toes are resting comfortably on the surface. This is the starting position. One leg should be propped backward onto the coffee table or chair; the other leg should be straight.

Next, squeeze your glutes – this helps stabilize you – and push the bag up in a straight line. You may have to move your head back while pressing it up to ensure it goes up in a straight line. Hold the gym bag above your head with your arms straight for a couple of seconds before lowering the bag back to your shoulders. This is one repetition. Continue for up to 12 repetitions.
Grab a pair of kettlebells, and set up with your feet just outside both bells. Hinge at the hip so you’re able to grab the handles of both bells; this should put you in a position similar to a deadlift position, and your hips should be lower than your shoulders. Tighten your glutes slightly and brace your core. Working to keep your back flat and rotating your hips only slightly, lift the right kettlebell and row it toward your lower chest, while still gripping the left kettlebell. Return the right kettlebell to the ground, then repeat on the left side. That’s 1 rep. Do 3 sets.

Insulin is the “storage” hormone. When it is secreted fat burning is blunted. By controlling insulin secretion by choosing low GI carbs you can decrease fat gain/increase fat loss. Stable blood sugar levels also improve energy levels and ones mood. All of our diets as based around insulin control, leading to leaner muscle gains with little to no fat gain.
From this we see that active women would benefit from consuming 2 grams/kg of bodyweight, which is about 1 gram/lb of bodyweight. For a 150 lb woman, this means that she needs 150 grams of protein per day. Ideally your protein should be spaced out throughout the day. If you eat five meals a day, this would be 30 grams of protein per meal (continuing with the example above).
There were 28 comparisons of indirect measures of muscle growth (i.e. lean body mass), encompassing 1,607 subjects.  In these studies, men increased measures of lean mass by 2.03%, on average, while women increased measures of lean mass by 1.92%.  The average difference was -0.11%, with a 95% confidence interval from -0.40-0.19%. This was not a significant difference (p=0.47).
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.

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.
First of all, I like to comment about how informative your website is. I have been lifting for about two and a half years now, proper weights, not the tiny pink dumbells. I want to gain more muscle, especially on my legs but its painfully slow. At the gym I go to I am the only woman in the weights room, I never had any problems from the men, though, they stare at me when I do unassisted parallel dips. I see a lot of women who only use cardio equipments and their bodies are typically skinny fat/flabby. Women tend to avoid the very thing that would benefit them the most!
Some of my acquaintances at the gym were actually startled when I abandoned the cardio equipment in favor of the ugly dumbbells and weight plates. I have been asked the “aren’t you afraid of bulk” question more times than I care to think about. When I am standing right there, clearly not bulky, this question seems a bit disingenuous. I haven’t really figured out why people keep asking. Having to explain how it is physically impossible for me to ever build enough muscle to be bulky has gotten a bit old. I think from now on I will simply refer them to your article.

There’s nothing that says you have to pick one type of resistance training and stick with it. Versatility is the name of the game here, so you can rotate between ALL styles if you like – I personally do. It just depends on where I am, what’s handy, and what I’m working on. No matter which form of Resistance Training you choose, you’re going to love what what it does for you!


With that being said, it’s certainly possible that there were differences in real-world training status that are basically impossible for a study to account for.  For example, if the men tended to train like hardcore powerlifters or bodybuilders, and the women tended to do the sort of lighter, higher-rep “toning” workouts that are often recommended to women, it would make sense that the women would gain strength faster.  In other words, “research tends to indicate that trained women still gain strength quicker than trained men, but I’m concerned those studies are hampered by methodological limitations, so I’ll continue to assume the null (similar relative rates of strength gains) until research on a more representative population is conducted” is also a very defensible position.
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.
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!
Lowers the risk of chronic disease: Not only will strength training help save off many chronic diseases, but it also helps lessen the symptoms of issues you may currently have. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) recommends strength training for most older adults to help lessen the symptoms of the following chronic conditions: arthritis, osteoporosis, diabetes, obesity, back pain, depression.

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.
Hi Jay.Your site is a breath of fresh air.I’m 67 and have loved working out with weights for years.Started with library physique books as they were called when I was a boy.Common sense books that taught progressive weight training.Thank you for bringing back that common sense for today’s people.I will send this information about training to my daughter. She will appreciate your advice. Best regards
Why: "The best way to maintain and improve bone density is through exercises that involve your entire lower body," says Perkins. "This move is considered a weight-bearing, compound, complex exercise, and is number one for bone health. In addition, the majority of age-related falls and bone fractures involve the pelvis. This move specifically targets and strengthens the muscles and bones of the pelvis." (Here are 4 more strength-training exercises you can do with a chair.)
That is, after you perform an intense HIIT session, your body expends a lot of calories bringing all of your systems back to normal so you’re not just burning calories while you’re performing HIIT, but afterwards as well.  However, more recent research has declared that the afterburn effects of HIIT are much smaller than once believed.  HIIT can be performed immediately after your strength training workout, or on a separate day from strength training.
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.
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.
PEDro is the scoring scale I’m most familiar with, but I’m not sure how applicable it is to these trials. Random allocation, concealed allocation, blinded subjects, baseline comparability, blinded therapists, and blinded assessors just aren’t going to be possible. That’s most than half the scale out the window before even starting. Would you recommend just scoring them on a heavily modified scale?

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.
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