What is the most common thing you see women do in the gym? Cardio. And if they do lift weights the pick up a 5 pound dumbbell and do endless reps. As we have discussed, women need to lift heavy, challenging weights just like men in order to gain muscle. While machines do provide sufficient stimulation to gain muscle, nothing can beat free-weight/compound exercises.
A proper warm-up is an important part of an effective strength workout. Start by foam rolling your muscles to wake 'em up. "Foam rolling loosens up tight muscles so that they work the way they're designed to," says Davis. A dynamic warm-up is another important part of your pre-workout routine, it preps your muscles for the work they're about to do and helps increase your range of motion. Increasing your range of motion allows you to go deeper into those squats and fully extend those bicep curls, which means more muscle recruitment and better results. "These two combined reduce your risk of injury and allow you to push harder during your workout," says Davis. Get started with this five-minute warm-up.
This: But, there is still no difference whatsoever in terms of the approach. The same things still have to be done. The only difference is, when someone only looking to build a smaller amount of muscle reaches that goal, they stop right there and just maintain from that point on. The person looking to get “bigger and bulkier” would just keep on going.
Now bring yourself into a standing position by simultaneously straightening your back and legs. Remember to keep your back straight – do not let it slouch, as this can cause injury. Once assuming the straight stance, stick your chest out and contract your shoulder blades. This is one repetition. Do at least five repetitions to build strength and muscle. Once you can do these repetitions easily, add weight to the bag.
How: Stand next to a chair or sturdy object to use for balance. Hold a 5 to 10 pound dumbbell in your right hand and place your left hand on the chair. Focus your effort on your left leg and take a large step backward with your right leg. Use the strength of your left leg to lower down until your right knee nearly touches the floor. Press into your left heel to push upward, and step forward returning to the starting position. That's one repetition. Aim to complete 10 to 12 reps on this side and then complete the same on the other.
Hold a medium-weight kettlebell or dumbbell at your chest, core tight, feet about shoulder-width apart. Keeping your core tight and chest up, lower into a squat, going as deep as is comfortable. Stand back up, but pause when your thighs are parallel with the ground. Hold for one second, then stand all the way up, squeezing your glutes. That’s 1 rep; do 3 sets.
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.
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.

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.
"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

Hi! Thank you so much for this plan, it has helped me so so much. I used to just stick to cardio, but after a year of no weights, I realized that the volume in my body was depleting as my weight dropped. I even started to gain as time went on, so I decided to go to the gym and lift, but I had NO IDEA how to use wights or what to do. Then, I found this program!
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.

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.
Remember Billy Blanks, the guy behind the Tae Bo craze? Now his son, Billy Blanks, Jr. is getting in on the family business. Along with his wife, Sharon Catherine Blanks, Billy Jr. will help you learn various types of dance styles in this fun workout DVD. The duo takes you through six 5-minute cardio routines that are inspired by dance styles from all over the world: hip-hop, Bollywood, African, disco, and country. It's designed for the whole family, so the kids can join in too!

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.
If you are a woman and want to gain muscle and improve your shape and curves, then you are going to have to lift heavy weights. This means that instead doing endless reps with light weights, as the media often prescribes women to do, you need to lift some heavy weights and really challenge yourself! While performing high rep sets (15-20 reps) does have some benefit, it is not optimal to adding muscle mass.
Now you may be saying, “I have seen some female bodybuilders who are very muscular and look similar to men in their build.” The real reason they look like that is they are most-likely using exogenous testosterone injections and/or other anabolic steroids. When women use exogenous testosterone/steroids they may show signs of hair growth on the face and chest, increased muscle mass, a redistribution of body fat from a female pattern of storage to a male pattern of storage, deepening of the voice, and other effects. The point of saying this is that unless you are on exogenous testosterone or other anabolic steroids, you will not become big and bulky from lifting weights.
Change up your workouts. Making even small changes to your strength workout can go a long way. Try altering the order of your exercises, or incorporate new pieces of equipment for the exercises you’re already doing, such as using free weights instead of a machine. You can also replace some or all of the exercises you’re doing with moves that work the same muscle groups. For example, instead of the chest press on a weight machine, switch to push-ups.
This is true and this should be the focus. Not ‘you can’t get bulky so lift’. I’m a dancer and heavy weight training ruined my lines (which I need to work). I’m fit and strong either way but I need to be more careful with how I train because looks matter to me professionally. It would be nice to hear trainers talk more about how they tailor workouts to clients needs and wishes than to make sweeping statements about women’s bodies.

Want to be strong, healthy, and happy, and feel 10 years younger? Then it's time to pick up the weights. "Strength training is no longer about being buff or skinny," says trainer Holly Perkins, founder of Women's Strength Nation. "It's as critical to your health as mammograms and annual doctor visits, and it can alleviate nearly all of the health and emotional frustrations that women face today. And it becomes even more critical once you hit 50."


Step By Step Strength Training with Petra Kolber is one hour and five minutes and was released on DVD on May 4th, 2010. The video can be broken down to the two twenty minute segments and the two ten minute segments and the five minute abs segment. For me the video is an intermediate level workout. Granted the workouts are great, but goes at a little to fast a pace and there is no step by step instruction. When I first saw the preview videos on Amazon and YouTube they looked easy, but when you put them into practice it is a whole different story. It is for this video and others as well that I am an advocate for labeling the workouts: beginner, intermediate, advanced or something like it. Step By Step Strength Training with Petra Kolber gets a B-.
If you do not have the energy and drive to lift harder and heavier each workout then you will not grow. If you leave protein breakdown levels unchecked and allow muscle breakdown to occur during a workout then you will not grow. Without proper workout nutrition you will not grow and progress and the rate you could with sufficient diet and supplement strategies. Scivation has taken the guess work out of workout nutrition and created a supplement combo that will increase your energy and performance, delay fatigue, and decrease protein breakdown WHILE increasing protein synthesis (the key to muscle growth). It’s time to start taking your workout nutrition (pre and during workout) seriously and supplement with the Scivation Workout Nutrition Stack—Vasocharge + Xtend!

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!
"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.

Each of your workouts should include a warm-up that will activate your muscles, prepare your central nervous system for the workout, and increase your blood flow to your muscles. It's also a great idea to do foam rolling before each workout. For leg workouts, roll the quads, hamstrings, IT band, piriformis, and calves. For upper-body workouts, roll the shoulder, chest, triceps, and biceps.
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).
I’m sure there are some people in a state of mild disbelief as this point.  After all, men have more testosterone, and testosterone is anabolic; therefore, men should be at a huge advantage when it comes to building muscle and gaining strength, right?  An implication of this analysis is that, assuming a given woman and a given man start with similar amounts of muscle mass and strength, they’d be likely to gain the same amount of muscle and strength if they both started lifting.  That just doesn’t sit right with some people.
How should I warm up for each exercise? Begin with a weight (or variation for bodyweight exercises) that allows you to perform 10 easy reps. Then add a little weight and perform 5-8 reps. You can perform a third set of 3-5 reps, with a heavier weight, if needed. Use the warm-up sets to find the proper weight/variation to use for the work sets. The goal of the warm-up sets is to hone proper technique and prepare you for the main workout.
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."

Men and women do not need to train differently to see results, but what about diet? Should women eat differently than men? Not really. Men’s and women’s metabolisms are very similar except that women burn a greater ratio of fat to carbs than men. This may be one of the reasons women do well on lower carb diets. The main thing that needs to be adjusted is one’s total caloric intake. Women need fewer calories than men because men have more muscle mass and less fat (relative to total bodyweight) than women. The amount of protein, carbs, and fat will be dictated by the amount of calories one eats.


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 .
Why she switched: I switched because I started seeing and reading a lot more about women doing squats and dead-lifting, and they weren’t huge or extremely bulky, and I became very interested in trying this. Then I found Instagrammer Jen Selter (queen of squats) and admired her figure, so I followed her and began doing squats and absolutely loved the results I was seeing. As I get older, or any woman in their 40s, we will start losing muscle and I want to prevent this as much as possible. Squatting and dead-lifting have given my legs and butt a lot of shape and muscle definition.
"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 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.
If you have a limited amount of time to train, say for example, 45 to 60 minutes, a couple of times a week, then we recommend prioritizing strength training, with possibly a quick, high-intensity interval training session or moderate-intensity cardio session at the end, and you’re done. However, if you have more time to devote to working out, then adding in a little more cardio can also be beneficial.
Tracking lifestyle markers improve can also be really motivating. They also give you valuable information about your progress.  For example, if you’ve been losing fat at a steady pace for six weeks, and suddenly, during the past two weeks, you’ve hit a plateau, take a look at your sleep and stress levels.  If your sleep has been poor for the last two weeks, there’s a good chance you’ve found the culprit.
It’s for those reasons that I champion these diet and fitness strategies.  These are the same techniques that we’re building our foundation around in our flagship course, The Nerd Fitness Academy: we understand that all women are different, which is why we present multiple training options for multiple environments, and diet advice that allows for flexibility based on one’s situation.
×