LINGUVIC: Your weight training session could last anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes, depending on what you're doing. More is not necessarily better. You want to have a good program that hits your muscles without overdoing it. Your workout should not be more than 45 minutes -- tops. You can have a great workout in 15 minutes if you have the right routine to do.
Start with 5 reps for each exercise and use the same weight until you can perform 8 reps for every set. Once you can perform 4-5 sets of 8 reps with the same weight/variation for all sets, it’s time to add weight (to free weight exercises) or use a more challenging variation (for bodyweight exercises). Then return to 5 reps with the heavier weight/harder variation, and repeat.
How her body has reacted: I’ve noticed that I’m so much stronger, I have more energy and I’m less tired. My body fat is lower and I’m much leaner, and you can really see the muscles. Wearing dresses and skirts in the summer and feeling confident is when it all pays off. I love my routine and I love the results. I am constantly preaching to friends and clients about squatting and dead-lifting and how great it is. People always ask me if I’m a runner and I respond, “No I’m a squatter.” It takes dedication and, for me, working out is a way of life, not a temporary fix.
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’ll admit I have not looked at any of the individual studies to see what kind of study designs you were dealing with. PEDro is designed for RCTs, and I’m guessing you didn’t have all RCTs, so I agree it wouldn’t be the best tool to use. The Cochrane Collaboration has a tool for non-randomized studies. It’s pretty in-depth but could be simplified. I would most be concerned about tracking potential bias in selection of participants into the intervention/control groups, differences beteeen groups at baseline, adjustment for any differences at baseline, measurements of intervention adherence, and handling of missing data.
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).
If you’re unable to bring your hips parallel to your knee joints, start with wall squats to build up strength. Otherwise, not going fully parallel can place stress on your joints and injure your knees. I didn’t go parallel when I first started weightlifting and seriously injured my knee. In fact, I had to lay off lifting for two months to allow it to heal.
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.
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."
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.
"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.
The nutrition section of most weight training guides will try to shove a boilerplate nutrition plan in your face, but that's not how we roll. We want to instill the idea that—metabolically and physiologically—your body is unique. What works for someone else may not work for you. Understanding how your own body works and discovering your dietary needs are important concepts to remember as you form your own nutritional strategy.
But women in particular are neglecting strength training at their own peril. It’s the only kind of exercise that makes muscles bigger, which lets them generate more strength and force, faster. “Muscle mass allows us to move,” Tucker says. Young people tend to take for granted the day-to-day parts of life that require strength, like walking up stairs or picking up a baby. “But a sedentary lifestyle means that people are gradually becoming weaker over time,” he says. Building muscle can fight back against that process.
"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
I have a question that I’m pretty embarrassed to ask in person so I’d like your opinion on it. I am a woman who prefers wearing men’s clothing. My current measurements make me fit a men’s XS. Even though I am a woman and it’s harder to build muscle, is it realistic for me to expect to bulk up at least to reach a size S or will results never be that big? I guess my question is, how much can a woman bulk up naturally by doing weight training? Thanks so much.

While I was training for endurance events ... at times I felt run down, and it would be hard to eat properly and I would end up bingeing. I also was in the constant mindset of needing to be thinner to excel in endurance events, which would lead me to eat too few calories and again I would end up bingeing. So although my calorie burn was much higher while training for marathons and Ironmans, my nutrition was not nearly as good. The other thing that has changed is my confidence. I was always self-conscious of having big thighs, now I embrace them because they are strong thighs. These thighs let me squat a lot of weight! It is funny, I am even more confident in my running (short distances, of course!) and have run a lifetime mile personal record this year. I am so much more confident in my own skin, which transfers to all aspects of my life.
If so, then there was simply no deficit present during that time. If you would have said this went on for just a couple of weeks, I would have told you there was likely some water retention going on (maybe it was even a certain time of the month). But that would have only been a temporary short-term thing at most. To go 2 months straight with no change whatsoever in scale weight or measurements, it’s pretty safe to say fat just wasn’t being lost. Either that or there was something inaccurate happening in the way you tracked your weight and measurements.
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!
How her body has reacted: The strength and confidence I’ve gained through powerlifting has changed my life and my perspective on fitness. There’s a stigma about women and powerlifting — the fear of gaining bulk. No, you will not bulk unless you have a strict meal plan that purposefully makes you bulk. You will gain definition and curves, which is what I believe many women who work out strive for. In addition, I’ve revisited running. I’ve noticed that I’m not tired as quickly. I also run faster and can run a longer distance without stopping. The fat I’ve lost and the muscle and strength I’ve gained through powerlifting have helped support my running milestones. If there was a zombie apocalypse, I think I’d be able to survive!
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.”
The Nerd Fitness Beginner Bodyweight workout is a great (free) place to start if you’re looking for a super basic, easy to follow bodyweight routine. This workout from my buddy/fellow Nerd Roman takes you through some very basic movements. Beast Skills and Gymnastics WOD also both offer great tutorials and progressions on how to master bodyweight movements, both basic and advanced.
This cardio could be done on the treadmill, elliptical, bike, running track, etc. We usually recommend the elliptical machine as it is low impact and easy to change speeds. We also recommend doing the Stubborn Fat Cardio Protocol separate from weight training, either first thing in the morning (if training in the evening) or on off days from the gym. To start, we recommend doing the Stubborn Fat Cardio Protocol 2-4 times per week.
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.
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