We're going to mix it up this week! Instead of Straight Sets, you're going to complete your workout in a circuit style. This week, you'll complete 1 set of each exercise for 15 reps, then you'll immediately move on to the next movement with no rest in between. For example, on the Day 1 workout, you'll perform your first set of leg presses for 15 reps, then you'll immediately go to the goblet squat and perform 15 reps and then continue on to the next exercise with no rest in between movements. At the end of these four movements, you'll rest for one minute, then complete the circuit two more times.
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.
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.
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.

Begin with three weight-training sessions each week, recommends Joe Dowdell, founder and co-owner of the New York City gym Peak Performance. For the greatest calorie burn, aim for total-body workouts that target your arms, abs, legs, and back, and go for moves that will zap several different muscle groups at a time—for example, squats, which call on muscles in both the front and back of your legs, as opposed to leg extensions, which isolate the quads.
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.
With 24 bodyweight workouts, there's no gym or equipment necessary to see results thanks to this workout DVD. You'll start your 90 days of guided training sessions with intense anaerobic exercise, followed by a period of rest, which repeats until the three months are over. There's three levels of difficulty though, so you're guaranteed to find a routine that works well for you.
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.

After posting her first video on YouTube in 2009, Cassey Ho’s distinct take on training has turned into one of the largest female-focused online fitness empires—Blogilates. Though the practices focus around the class created by Ho—POP Pilates, combining pop music and pilates movements to create a more danceable practice—there is a wide variety of videos available, from single-song challenges to 20+ minute workouts. Each video is equipment free, besides the optional (but recommended) yoga mat. The best part? Ho preaches body positivity, fearlessly uploading videos detailing her struggles with self image. If you’re new to the channel, we recommend the POP Pilates for Beginners – Total Body Workout; for a challenge, a video from the PIIT series, Total Body Slim Down.
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).
Unfortunately, protein is a nutrient often downplayed when it comes to women’s diets. For some reason, many people seem to think women don’t need to emphasize protein in their diets, but I am here to tell you that we DO. Protein is made up of amino acids, the building blocks of many tissues in the body, including muscle. Certain amino acids are “essential”, which means the body cannot make them and they must be obtained through your diet. When you workout, you breakdown muscle tissue. In order to repair that muscle tissue and gain lean mass and become stronger, you must give the body protein to supply the amino acids needed for recovery. If you do not get enough protein in your diet your body will not have enough amino acids, specifically essential amino acids, to work properly and recovery from workouts. Where will it get these amino acids you are lacking?
Second, women may recover from training a bit faster than men (one, two, three).  When I’ve mentioned this in the past, the counterargument I typically hear is that women don’t create as much force, so of course their muscles won’t sustain as much damage, and will therefore recover faster.  However, that doesn’t make much sense when you think about it. For starters, I’m not aware of any evidence showing that people who are stronger or more muscular at baseline experience more muscle damage, more soreness, or larger/longer performance decrements than people who are weaker or less muscular, all else being equal.  More importantly, what each of your muscle fibers “feel” is the tension on that specific fiber; the contractile force of the entire muscle shouldn’t matter, as long as each fiber is being recruited to a similar degree and experiencing a similar amount of tension. I think the more likely explanation is that estrogen may exert a protective effect on muscle, limiting damage and potentially accelerating repair.
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!
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.
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.
It’s also one of the very few ways to make bones denser, a perk that is especially important for women. Lifting something heavy, like a dumbbell, makes bones bear more weight, and in exercise, stressing your bones is a good thing (to a point of course). Bones are constantly remodeling, explains Anthony Hackney, an exercise physiologist at the University of North Carolina. “Your body is always adding calcium to your bones and taking calcium away from your bones,” he says.

For an effective workout, select a weight or resistance level that fatigues your muscles after 8 to 12 repetitions. You can begin with a single set and work up to two or three sets as you become stronger. For instruction with specific types of weights and lifts, seek assistance from a trained instructor at a gym, health center, or local community center.


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.
We learned that NE/E activate the receptors that stimulate lipolysis (fat breakdown). Research shows that NE/E secretion increases with exercise intensity. In addition, as cardio duration increases fat utilization increases while carbohydrate utilization decreases. So we need to perform high-intensity cardio for a long duration of time to maximize fat burning. The only problem is one cannot maintain high-intensity cardio for a long duration.
So what is the best form of strength training? Realistically, it’s the one that you will actually do. Barbell training may be optimal in terms of strength, but if you don’t see yourself actually driving to the gym three days a week, choose a different plan. Likewise, bodyweight training might seem convenient, but if you don’t actually motivate yourself to workout at home, you might have been better off with a different option.

Former ballet dancer and Ballet Beautiful founder Mary Helen Bowers has serious fitness cred thanks to training Natalie Portman for her role in Black Swan. With this free workout video, she takes her expertise outside the dance studio. The 15-minute mat workout will help tone your lower body with graceful ballet-inspired movements like bridge variations.


Why: "The muscles of your upper arms are very small from a volume perspective. Due to the muscle loss that has occurred since your 30s (sarcopenia), these muscles are atrophied," says Perkins. "It's critical to keep your biceps muscles strong so that you are able to carry objects safely and easily. It'll also make your arms look great." (For more moves for sculpted arms, try this at-home workout.)

Workout  Routines For Women – 4 Week Training Plan: This program from SHAPE encourages you to cut back on the cardio and push the weights to increase metabolism and build more muscle. This plan doesn’t give you a specific list of workouts and leaves the flexibility to adjust as you go. The plan changes to circuit halfway through switching up the plan of just lifting.
During weeks 5-8, you will be lifting in the 6-8 rep range. What this means is that you want to complete at least 6 reps but no more than 8 reps for each set. If you cannot complete 6 reps, then the weight is too heavy and you should decrease the load. If you can complete more than 8 reps, then the weight is too light and you should increase the load.
Thank you for this article – it confirms what I’ve read a few times, though sadly not often enough. I had this discussion with my sister that was at an all-girls gym – they ONLY have crappo machines, and you’re only allowed to use the free-weights if you’re working with a PT!! I shit you not… ANYWAY, I digress. I did have a question to ask – with regards to progression training, at what point do you decide to maintain, rather than constantly upping the intensity, or is that a really noob-y question??? =)
One of the reasons why I love this specific routine so much is that is it easy for beginners. It does not have you doing a thousand reps and burning you out! Instead, you might notice the reps being a little lower than what you are probably used to and that is because the goal is to gain muscle-not worrying about endurance much. Also, you train 4 days per week-that screams “DO-ABLE” to me! You have two designated days where you work your upper body and the same goes for lower body.
Fitness can be intimidating. Even small, mom-and-pop gyms are usually full of weird-looking machines, equipment you don't know how to use, and unapproachable sexy people lugging around milk cartons full of pink water. Most of us new to the world of weights will walk into a gym feeling immediately overwhelmed. There's so much going on it's difficult to even know where to begin!
When you finally muster the courage to try some resistance training, you'll likely head over to the machines. You'll choose an open one, read the directions, and then try to copy whatever the model is doing in the pictures. "WTF am I doing?" you may ask yourself as you go through the motions. "Is this even right? I swear those directions don't make any sense. Good God, I hope no one is watching me!"
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!

For each exercise you do, try to perform three sets of 10 to 12 reps with a weight heavy enough that by your last rep you can't eke out another one without compromising your form. To spark further muscle building, William Kraemer, Ph.D., a professor of kinesiology at the University of Connecticut, suggests alternating moderate-intensity workouts of 8 to 10 reps with lighter-weight 12- to 15-rep sets and super-hard 3- to 5-rep sets. (For a more detailed fat-blasting workout, check out "Do This at Home," below.)
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?
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.

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.
Why: "One of the weakest movements for all women of all ages is pressing upward overhead," says Perkins. "Because of the reduced muscle mass at 50, this critical movement pattern is further handicapped. This move increases the lean muscle mass around your shoulders, reducing your risk for neck, shoulder, and lower back injuries when pressing something heavy overhead." (Try these 3 moves to sculpt strong shoulders.)
But when I started college, I had to give up gymnastics to focus on my studies. That's when I quickly learned you can’t eat the same way when you’re training eight hours per week as you can if you’re doing almost no physical activity. Long story short: I gained roughly 20 pounds and just felt horrible in my own skin. So after the stress of getting into university was behind me, I decided it was time to “get in shape" (an expression I now hate, but more on that later).
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