The hormone testosterone is responsible for the large increases in muscle mass seen when men lift weights. Women’s testosterone levels are a fraction of men’s testosterone levels. Normal testosterone levels in men are 200-1200 ng/dl while 15-70 ng/dl are normal in women. As you can see, men’s testosterone levels are SIGNIFICANTLY higher than women’s. Even if a man is at the LOW end of the men’s normal testosterone range (200 ng/dl), he still has more than twice the amount of testosterone as a woman at the HIGH end of the women’s normal testosterone range (70 ng/dl). If we look at the median or mid-range testosterone levels in men and women, men = 700 and women = 42.5. So on an average, men have 16.47 times more testosterone than women! It is clear that women do not have the hormonal support (testosterone) to gain muscle mass like men. Therefore, the fear of becoming big and bulky and looking like Arnold Schwarzenegger with a ponytail is unwarranted.
Do Yoga with Me is one of my personal favourite sources for good home workouts, obviously of the yoga variety! Many of their classes are filmed outdoors in beautiful British Columbia, Canada. The level of instruction is top-notch and there are videos that focus on pretty much every part of the body (e.g. hips, hamstrings, back, etc.), so you can target the area that you need to work on most.

Many women worry that weight training will somehow transform them into Hulk-ettes, so they spend hours doing cardio in order to maintain their "feminine" figure. The truth is, women just don't have the hormonal support to gain muscle mass like men. The hormone testosterone is responsible for large increases in muscle mass. Women's testosterone levels are a fraction of men's. That means you can bench press without concerning yourself about how much chest hair you might grow.
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 .
Stand holding medium-weight dumbbells at your shoulders, elbows pointing forward, core engaged. Keeping your core tight and your chest up, lunge backwards with your right knee, stepping backwards then lowering that knee until it touches the ground or until your left thigh is parallel with the ground. Pause, then drive back up and repeat the process on the other leg. Alternate legs until time expires. Do 3 sets.
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.
The majority of your carbohydrates should come from these complex carbs because they take a little longer to digest, making you feel fuller for longer, and don't raise blood sugar as quickly as simple sugars. The added bonus is that complex carbs pack a whole lot of nutritional love in the form of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Both simple and complex carbs have a place in your diet, but long-term success in managing blood sugar levels and weight can depend on limiting your intake of simple sugars.
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).

Don’t worry about what everyone else is wearing around you – this isn’t a fashion show. For shoes, look for a minimalist shoe with a hard, non-compressible sole.  Chuck Taylors are my personal favorite, but Steve wears Vibrams or Merrills. While there are some great shoe options specifically for weight lifting, as a beginner, the above multipurpose shoe will serve you just fine!


I wish I’d found this 15 or so years ago when I was a dance student! Back then I had a “dancer’s physique” because I spent 3-4 hours in the studio daily either in dance technqique classes, barre/floor barre exercises or Pilates based body conditioning classes and I ate a vegan diet. However, I was also tired from over-training and plagued with repetitive strain injuries (not helped by my low protein, low fat diet).
If someone is offering to spot you on an exercise (like the bench press), don’t assume they think you are a newb. Probably the opposite – they just want to help. If someone asks you to spot them and you’ve never spotted someone before, tell them that you would love to help but haven’t done it before so you could use some pointers. They will tell you what they want you to do.
Lie on your back on the floor, feet flat on the floor and knees bent. Hold medium-weight dumbbells directly over your shoulders, arms straight. This is the start position. Squeeze your shoulder blades, then bend at the elbows and shoulders, lowering the dumbbells until your upper arms are on the ground. Pause, then press back up to the start. That’s 1 rep. Do 3 sets.
I’m a woman and I totally agree with what you’ve said. Guys at my gym look at me as an outsider, giving me what-the-hell-are-u-doing-in-the-mens-territory looks. I never leave the gym unless my shirt is SOAKED in sweat. I lost so far around 50 lbs (I weight around 170 lbs now). I do challenge myself.. A LOT and I AM noticing changes. The problem is, I feel like my trapezious muscles (is that what they’re called?) are getting bigger and I hate that. I do shoulder press and that seems to bulk up my trapezious muscles. I don’t know what I should do. Maybe women can only bulk up in that area? I’m thinking maybe I should stop the shoulder press workout? But I do want my arms to be toned and my deltoids to show.
If you're looking to get as toned as 49-year-old Jennifer Aniston, here's the workout you've been searching for. Yogalosophy was created by the celebrity's long-standing yoga instructor, Mandy Ingber, "This workout will change your body and your mind," Aniston says on the DVD cover, as it combines resistance training and traditional yoga to build muscle and burn fat.
Bodyrock.tv is one of the forerunners in online exercise videos. This popular health and exercise blog is dedicated to weight loss, fitness, beauty, food, love and relationships. “Bodyrockers” find daily at-home workouts that are either laid out with descriptions and pictures, or that are instructed in video format. All of the online workouts can be done with minimal equipment.
Start in pushup position, hands slightly wider than shoulder-width. Perform a pushup, lowering your chest to an inch from the ground, then press back up. As you press back up, lift your right arm off the ground and reach it toward the sky, turning your torso to face the right side (you may need to shift your feet as you do this. Hold for 1 second, then return to pushup position and perform another rep, lifting your left arm off the ground this time. Alternate reps until time’s up for each set. Do 3 sets.
To quote James, “Variations in your blood levels of testosterone impact your ‘base’ level of muscle, but have minimal impact on your relative (%) gains.  Thus, having higher testosterone levels means having a higher base level of muscle.  While the relative gains will be mostly similar, the absolute gains will be higher due to the higher baseline.”  

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.
First, thank you SO MUCH for posting such amazing information! Second, I’m looking to start this 12 week beginner program and just wondering if the weight should be slightly increased between sets, or just week to week? I have previous lifting experience and we would up the weight in between each set, but haven’t lifted consistently in a few years so just curious what you recommend. Thank you!!
Overall, I'm really happy with my results. That being said, I will say that I didn't follow through with a few things that I think would have benefited from! First, I didn't count calories. I used to do this all the time, but I found, for me, counting calories, was not good for my mental health. I intuitively eat, but I would recommend others try to count calories as much as they can! It probably could have helped me see even more results if I did. Also, I didn't do the abs on the weekends and that was a bad idea. My whole body is getting more toned accept my stomach, which is mostly just annoying.
The good news is that this doesn’t have to happen! The word “sedentary” is key. Strength training is important for everyone, but after 50 it becomes more crucial than ever. It ceases to be about big biceps or flat abs but rather takes on a tone of maintaining a strong, healthy body less prone to injury and illness. The important benefits of strength training after 50 include:
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.

I recommend exercises that simulate what you do in real life, exercises standing up using your body weight, for example. These exercises not only use the muscles you're targeting, for instance when doing a lunge you're working your legs, they also challenge your core muscles, which are the muscles of your abdominals and lower back. And they challenge your coordination, which you need in real life.
I appreciate such a thorough synthesis on this topic. As a systematic reviewer, my main concern would be a lack of systematic assessment of risk of bias in the individual studies. I see you did a funnel plot to see any bias by study size, but there are so many other things involved in study quality (study design, selection of participants, statistical adjustment for potential con founders, etc). I would be interested to see how many of these studies were fair or better quality (there are several well accepted quality rating tools available for various study designs). I would also be interested to see a sensitivity analysis to see if the pooled results differ when high risk of bias studies are eliminated, for example. Thanks for an interesting read.
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??? =)
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?
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?
Put simply, "strength training means using resistance to create work for your muscles," says Hannah Davis, C.S.C.S. and author of Operation Bikini Body. So even if your mind jumps straight to those hardcore machines and massive weights, there are a lot of ways to create this resistance that require minimal equipment (or none at all). Bodyweight workouts can be an incredibly effective way to strength train. Squats and push-ups FTW. You can also use tools like dumbbells, medicine balls, TRX bands, resistance bands, kettlebells, and slider disks, to help get the job done, explains Davis. But if that sounds like gibberish don't worry about it. Keep it simple and focus on equipment-free routines first. No matter what you do, the most important thing is to find something that challenges you, says Davis.

These cardio workouts are intended to be tough. If you can't complete your entire cardio session in the beginning, don't get discouraged. Push yourself a bit further each day until you can do the entire session at the pace listed. It may take a few weeks of building endurance to be able to complete the entire session.  You know you are working at the right level if you are not able to talk on the phone, or read a book, Dey says.


Third, men and women may respond differently to low-load training.  At this point, there’s a tremendous amount of evidence showing that low-load training (i.e. sets of 20+ reps) can build muscle just as effectively as heavier training (though just because you can build muscle effectively with low-load training, that doesn’t mean you should).  However, only one of the studies comparing high-load and low-load training was done with women.  It found that women training with higher loads (6-10RM loads) gained way more muscle than women training with lower loads (20-30RM loads).  This stands in stark contrast to similar studies performed on men, suggesting that women may respond to normal, heavy-ish training the same way men do (mostly doing sets of 5-15 reps), but may not respond as well to low-load training.

Stand tall and look straight ahead, then step your right foot forward and lower into a lunge until your right thigh is parallel to the ground. Keep your core tight and your chest up; your left knee should be on the ground. Raise your arms overhead and clasp your hands together, leaning back slightly. You should feel a stretch in your hamstrings and hip flexors; feel free to shift your torso to the left or right a little bit. Return to the start, then repeat on the other side. Alternate side until time expires; do this drill for 2 minutes.


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.


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.
Calling all new moms! Whether you're looking to stay in shape during pregnancy or get back into shape post-delivery, this workout is designed to help you feel like your best self. A blend of Pilates and barre moves, it follows the guidelines of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists so that you can rest assured that you're exercising safely.
Next, bend your arms and slowly lower yourself until your chest is just about to touch the floor. Hold the position for a second. After holding it, straighten your arms again to return to the starting position. This is one repetition. Continue for up to 12 repetitions. To make it harder, try placing a gym bag or textbook on your back to add additional weight.
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).
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.
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.
Ok, so all fears gone! I will give it a try, and the cool part is that since my husband and I are trying to do something together, without kids, and look better, we could do this! But I am confused as to the ‘losing fat’ and ‘building muscle’ separate dietary reqs. I want both?! And how long to do the beginners workout before moving onto intermediate… Other than that, I’m very excited to start! I’m going to do before and after pics, and document progress. Awesome!
I’d be doing you a disservice if I didn’t mention my own workouts that are available here at Make Your Body Work. Every single workout will challenge your entire body and will include elements of cardio, strength, and core conditioning. The uniqueness of these workouts are the “difficulty levels” that provide up to 4 distinct options for every single move. This makes each workout very accessible for newbies, yet challenging for super-fit users.

What better place to learn how to exercise at home than eHowFitness! This YouTube channel provides specific workout ideas and health tips from leading fitness experts and popular celebrity trainers. Videos provided here focus on weight loss, breathing exercises, water workouts, stretching exercises and even workouts for kids. They also have niche exercise videos like this one for expectant mothers.


Start in pushup position, hands directly below your shoulders, feet slightly wider than hips-width apart. Now lift your right foot off the ground and place it just outside your right hand. Bend your right knee as you do this and try to keep your left leg straight. Feel the stretch along your hips, then return to plank position and repeat on the other side. Thats 1 rep.
Why: "This move is one of the number-one strengthening exercises that physical therapists use for back health," says Perkins. "It strengthens your ‘posterior chain' muscles that guide nearly every move you make, including your core, glutes, back, and shoulder muscles all at once, while helping to open the hips and shoulders." (Try these 12 hip-opening yoga poses for even more strength and flexibility.)

Jessica Smith TV shares a unique collection of videos with 7-minute, 10-minute and 30-minute in-home exercise programs. She offers a really great variety of workout styles – Some focus on fat burning, others on cardio conditioning, workouts for beginners, kickboxing workouts and more. Jessica is an energetic instructor that will motivate you to join her.
Most women have “trouble areas” or places on the body where the most fat is stored and it is difficult to get rid of. In most women these areas are primarily the thighs, glutes (butt), and in some women the triceps (back of the arms) and “love handles”. After dieting to lose weight and tone up these trouble areas the last thing you want to do is regain excess fat. If you don’t keep your diet clean and controlled you will gain fat, and it will most likely be in these trouble areas. We will go over why these trouble areas exist and then outline a plan to keep these trouble areas lean and sexy while adding lean mass.
The narrowing of the gap as competitiveness increases suggests that women may truly continue gaining strength at a slightly faster relative rate across their training careers.  Similarly, a 2014 study of elite athletes in a variety of sports found that the women had about 85% as much lean body mass as men; before training, women tend to have ~60-70% as much lean body mass as men, suggesting that women may actually gain relatively more muscle than men long-term (though, for all of these comparisons, you can’t assume causation from cross-sectional analyses).  
I wish I’d found this 15 or so years ago when I was a dance student! Back then I had a “dancer’s physique” because I spent 3-4 hours in the studio daily either in dance technqique classes, barre/floor barre exercises or Pilates based body conditioning classes and I ate a vegan diet. However, I was also tired from over-training and plagued with repetitive strain injuries (not helped by my low protein, low fat diet).

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."
Perform one circuit training session each week. My circuit training program combines dumbbell weights with rapid movement between each exercise. Use my circuit program and modify it if you need to, by slowing it down, so that you can complete at least three circuits. This is designed to get you working somewhat hard, so give it your best shot. You will breathe heavier and you should break a sweat.

My husband has just sent me this article, after listening to me bitch for years about wanting to be more “toned” but never wanting to join him at the weight bench for fear of getting manly muscles. The smugness on his face right now is nauseating, but I can admit the error of my judgement. (Not to him, obviously, but to myself, at least.) Thanks for the no-bullshit approach, I needed to hear it.
The term “adrenaline” is commonly used to refer to the body’s excitatory catecholamines, Epinephrine (E) and Norepinephrine (NE), which are regulators of lipolysis (fat breakdown). NE and E acts on receptors called adrenergic receptors of which there are alpha (1 & 2) and beta (1, 2, & 3) subtypes. Activation of the alpha1 and beta-receptors is lipolytic (causes fat breakdown) while activation of the alpha2 receptor is anti-lipolytic (blunts fat breakdown). Stubborn fat areas have a high density of alpha2 receptors, making it harder for fat breakdown to occur in that area. If you are a women this means you have a large amount of alpha2 receptors in your thighs and glutes.

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
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 is a key part of a healthy, active lifestyle. It tones muscles, burns calories, and builds stamina for a stronger, leaner body. But learning the proper form and technique can make or break your practice. This program provides straightforward instruction, practical tips, and an efficient, effective workout for all experience levels.
Ideally, your workout should be quick, fuss-free and well-rounded. In reality however, most of us play favourites, choosing to do only what we enjoy. But when you do the same thing day in and out, you’re likely to neglect certain muscle groups. That’s why we asked various fitness, yoga and pilates instructors for these non-negotiable exercises that every woman should do. Whether you’re a regular runner or weightlifting fanatic, these moves deserve a place in your regular workouts.
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