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.
This is important. Lifting weights on stiff or “cold” joints and muscles will make it harder to move, and you’ll increase the risk of injury. If you’re weight training, warm your body up either with some cardiovascular activity that utilizes the muscles you’re going to work, or do a short set with a lighter amount of weight than you’re planning to use for your workout.
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.
It wasn’t worth splitting apart the young and older subjects to do formal subgroup analyses for hypertrophy outcomes (I like having at least 20 studies to pool), but just looking at simple averages, it seems that men and women gain muscle at a similar rate regardless of age.  In the studies on young participants (N=8), the men increased muscle size by 13.1%, while the women increased muscle size by 14.1%. Similarly, in the studies on older participants (N=17), the men increased muscle size by 11.9%, while the women increased muscle size by 11.8%. Both of these differences are clearly trivial.
For starters, women tend to be less acutely fatigable than men, meaning they can generally do more reps per set at a given percentage of 1RM, do more sets with a fixed number of reps at a given percentage of 1RM, or both.  There are several factors underpinning this difference, but the two most important seem to be a) women tend to have a higher proportion of type I muscle fibers, which are more fatigue-resistant and b) women tend to have less muscle mass, so they don’t occlude blood vessels quite as quickly when lifting, meaning they can more efficiently deliver oxygen and clear metabolic waste products from their muscles.  (However, I’ll note that this isn’t a unanimous finding).

Yohimbine is an alpha2 receptor antagonist. The catecholamine norepinephrine (NE) is released in times of stress and intense activity to increase the amount of available energy by releasing stores nutrients (i.e. fatty acids from fat cells). NE activates both the beta and alpha adrenergic receptors. Activation of the beta receptors increases fatty acid liberation from fat cells while activation of the alpha receptor inhibits liberation of fatty acids.
This delicate balance starts to tip as people age, and “they lose more mineral from the bone than they’re able to lay down,” Hackney says. Over time, bone gets less dense and more brittle and prone to osteoporosis, a condition that affects about 10 million Americans—80% of whom are female. Women have smaller, thinner bones than men from the start, and after menopause they lose estrogen, a hormone that protects bones.

There is no reason why you cannot hit your protein needs DAILY! With quality, low carb and fat protein powders like Whey Sensible from PGN, it is delicious and easy to whip up a fast shake and satisfy that sweet tooth at the same time. Dietary protein is very important in a woman’s diet. Women need the same amount of protein as men (adjusted for bodyweight). It is recommended that active women eat about 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight.
"As a busy mom, the Beachbody programs have been a godsend. The 21 Day Fix Extreme by Beachbody is my absolute favorite. I started with the original 21 Day Fix in April 2014 and have worked up from there. I love that it's an at-home workout (and eating plan) because I can get the workout done in 30 minutes. These sweat sessions include an upper-body workout, a lower-body workout, cardio exercises, yoga, and Pilates.
Why: "The chest muscles (pectorals) for all women are particularly weak and underdeveloped," says Perkins. "By increasing the mass in this muscle group you are adding a substantial percentage of lean mass towards your overall health. Additionally, the chest muscles are responsible for supporting breast tissue. This move will bring a bit more lift to your chest."

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.


Everybody requires a minimum number of calories to, well, live. This minimum number is called the basal metabolic rate (BMR) and can be influenced by the amount of lean muscle mass a person has. The overall number of calories your body uses on a daily basis is the sum of your BMR and additional calories you use walking, standing, sleeping, exercising, driving, and even laughing. Altogether they comprise the total energy expenditure (TEE), or your daily caloric needs.
Cardio history: I’ve been a runner/jogger/walker the majority of my life. In my early 30s, I did a lot of running races but stopped after I became a mom at 35. Then, my cardio routine depended on what I could get done while tending to a little kid. As my daughter got older, I returned to the gym sporadically and sometimes had trainers help me (but that could never last because of the expense factor). My very recent routine, before I began lifting, was jogging on the treadmill at the recommended “fat burn” rate about two times a week, and walking briskly outdoors about five times a week for about 4 miles each time.
How: Hold a 5-10 pound dumbbell in your right hand, and place your left hand on a chair or sturdy object for balance. Shift your weight onto your left foot and lift your right foot off the floor. Stand with a long, tall spine and allow the dumbbell to hang at your side. Press into the ball of your left foot so that you move upwards onto your toes. Keep your left knee fully opened without locking it. Press upward as high as possible, then slowly lower back to the starting position. That's one repetition. Aim to complete 15 reps on this leg, then switch and perform the same on the other.

You're right about one thing, though: training with weights will increase your lean muscle mass. That's a good thing! The more muscle you have, the more calories your body will burn. The more calories you burn, the leaner you'll get. Increased muscle mass will also add shape to your arms, take inches from your tummy, and even add some roundness to your booty! When women's magazines talk about "tone," they're really talking about strong muscles.


Stand holding medium-weight dumbbells at your sides. Keeping your chest up and core braced, perform a reverse lunge with your right leg, stepping your right leg back, bending your knee and lowering your torso until your left thigh is parallel with the ground. Drive off your right leg to return to standing, then step forward with your right leg, bend both knees and lower your torso until your right thigh is parallel with the ground. Press back to standing, then repeat on the other side. Alternate reps on both sides until time is up. Do 3 sets.

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.


"I started with seven or eight rounds of P90X, not to get ‘ripped’ but to stay in shape. I have also tried and loved the expansion packs, P90X2 and P90X3. I love that I can switch loads of laundry during a water break, not worry about what kind of weather is outside, and work out while my kids are home. The biggest changes I have seen are in my arms, back, legs, and stomach.” —Wendy Brown, Boise, ID
Stand holding medium-weight dumbbells at your sides. Keeping your chest up and core braced, perform a reverse lunge with your right leg, stepping your right leg back, bending your knee and lowering your torso until your left thigh is parallel with the ground. Drive off your right leg to return to standing, then step forward with your right leg, bend both knees and lower your torso until your right thigh is parallel with the ground. Press back to standing, then repeat on the other side. Alternate reps on both sides until time is up. Do 3 sets.

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.
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.
The biggest factor in a diet is calories in versus calories out; your total calories will determine if you lose or gain weight. Eating too many calories will lead to fat gain. But if you don’t eat enough calories you will not gain lean muscle. Setting a target calorie intake and counting the amount of calories you eat each day is vital to losing fat and gaining lean muscle.
A personal trainer in NYC's Upper East Side, Pagano has dedicated the past 16 years of her life to passing her knowledge and passion for fitness on to other women in the hopes of helping them improve their lives and prevent common diseases like osteoporosis. Her first offering in the crowded self-help fitness genre succeeds impressively well as a resource for women of all ages looking to improve their overall health. Like a good personal trainer should, she begins with a three-part fitness test and questionnaire to assess whether the reader should consult a doctor before beginning her program. For true beginners, she provides an anatomy chart that depicts the major muscle groups and the exercises that are best suited to them. She dispels fitness myths like "lifting weights will bulk you up" and "you can spot reduce," and talks about the risk factors, exercise guidelines and restrictions of osteoporosis. Best of all for novices, many of Pagnano's beginner exercises require no special equipment, relying instead on everyday fixtures like chairs, walls and kitchen countertops. (More advanced exercises use free weights, stretch bands and stability balls.) The color photos, diagrams and clear explanations make the exercises easy to follow, and Pagano provides full training programs for improving posture and strengthening the lower, upper and core muscles of the body. This book may be one of the best substitutes for pricey gym memberships and personal trainers.
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!
2) Do you have any articles that answer how many sets should be taken to failure (or close to it) per exercise for maximum hypertrophy? I think the terms here would be straight sets vs pyramid, etc. I’ve always naturally done a pyramiding-style where every set acts almost as a warm up to my one real working set, as to produce maximum output for that one true working set. In other words, instead of traditional pyramiding 90×10, 95×8, 100×6 it will be more like 90×5, 95×3, 100×6. And I will never repeat a set I’ve taken to failure (never do straight sets). Anyway, I’ve never seen a definitive answer as to which is better and have been surprised that straight sets seem to be the standard recommendation.
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.
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.
Both BCAA and Glutamine oxidation/demand is increased during exercise. In order to meet this increased demand for BCAA and Glutamine, the body breaks down muscle protein. The goal of weight training is to increase protein synthesis. In order to gain muscle mass, protein turnover (protein turnover = protein synthesis – protein breakdown) must be positive. An increase in protein synthesis from weight training can lead to an increase in muscle mass. If we are increasing protein breakdown during training, we are decreasing the training session’s overall anabolic effect and limiting muscle growth.
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!
Of course, to Perkins—who is on a mission to get women weight lifting—the benefits go even deeper. "Something magical happens when you reach for a heavy object and are surprised by your own strength," she says. "It's an incredible feeling to climb a flight of stairs and feel powerful, or when you find that you no longer need the help of a man to move boxes. It's time for women to find their power."
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.
Wow I stumbled upon this site YEsterday and have come back home from work today to read more. I train the wife 4 times per week to loose fat and the training I MAKE her do I always get the “but I don’t want to build muscle” and as many times I tell her you won’t she moans so I then try my hardest to punish her with clean and presses, she hates me for this but I am really glad I found this site so much good reading.
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

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."


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.

If you’re new to weight training, don’t worry. Perkins created this four-week program to help you to build a solid foundation of strength training and shift your body into a new place after all that cardio. The really great news? You only have to do this routine twice a week. Each week, the moves will stay the same, but we'll make the routine harder by changing the program variables (like rest, sets, reps, or load).
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