Few would argue that some form of resistance training should not be part of a complete exercise program; however, the bulk of literature on the cardio-protective effects of aerobic exercise has continued to make this form of exercise preeminent and the central focus of many physical activity guidelines in Canada, the United States, and many other countries.
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.
Cardio history: Before I started lifting, I did many endurance events. Once I stopped playing soccer in college, I began to run and completed 10 marathons, including qualifying for and running the Boston Marathon. Running eventually led to triathlons, including three full Ironmans. During this time, I was running five days a week, anywhere from 5 to 20 miles, biking three to five days between 60 minutes and three hours, and swimming three days for about an hour.
"I had my first baby at 35 and my third at 39, so the struggle to get back in shape was real. Before I was married with kids I enjoyed going to the gym, but afterward I needed to find something that helped me be more consistent. That's when I found the P90X series, a workout DVD series featuring a bunch of different exercises targeting different muscles. For example, there's an abs workout, as well as one for legs and back, shoulders and arms, yoga, cardio, and stretching.
I have a few amazing clients I’m working with right now who would describe themselves as life long worriers, or pessimists. In the past that has served them well, enabling them to keep safe, steer clear of risks and even develop strategies in the event of disasters. However, now they find it’s becoming hard to break the cycle and they really want to because it’s holding them back.

That’s unfortunate: On average, a woman over 25 years old who doesn’t do strength-training exercises loses about one-half pound of muscle each year, or roughly 5 pounds in a decade, research has found. That makes you feel weaker and look flabbier, and results in about a 3% decrease in resting metabolic rate (RMR). Over time, this slowing metabolism can lead to an increase in body fat.
Now that the holidays are creeping around the corner, you may have to break up with your regularly scheduled sweat sessions, at least temporarily. And though the most wonderful time of the year may interfere with your fave spin class or butt-kicking bootcamp routine, it’s completely possible to stay fit—all you need is an Internet connection and a little living room space. (OK, and maybe a few props here and there.) And it’s all thanks to these seriously excellent, totally free workout videos. We’ve rounded up the best YouTube workouts—we’re talking everything from traditional aerobics to ballet to high-intensity interval training routines—so you can keep your physique in tip-top shape this season and beyond.
Lose yourself in the high-energy rhythm of the Pound Rockout Results System, a five-disc sweatfest in which you wield drumsticks (aka Ripstix) instead of weights. "The drumming takes your mind off your muscles hurting!" one tester marveled. You'll "constantly tap the sticks" in each routine—core, upper body, lower body, intervals, tune-up and jam session—for a "totally unique" cardio blast.
There are a lot of exercises in Lean, Long & Strong that don't require any weights at all. You don't need dumbbells or resistance bands. These exercises rely on body weight, such as lunges, plies and pushups. As you get better at certain exercises you add weight to increase the challenge. With a band it's hard to quantify how much weight you're at.
It can also be super helpful to have a workout buddy, coach or motivational fitness group to help you stay on track and keep you motivated. This is an open invitation to enroll in Rock Your Life, my online fitness and coaching community where you can get motivated, work with me and the other Team Betty Rocker coaches, and meet hundreds of other women who are working on their fitness goals.

How her body has reacted: I generally carry weight around my hips and thighs; I seem to be predisposed this way, and the weightlifting is literally cutting through the fat. I am being trained by Kenneth Rippetoe of One with the Water. This is all foreign to me and I have tremendous resistance. My attitude doing it is not very good. But afterward, I feel really good.
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 am a 47 year old woman that has been athletic all my life. I love to tinker with my own training – my training goals are somewhat contradictory – faster 1/2 marathon times and stronger lifts. I just discovered your content a few months ago (MASS subscriber as well) and have found it extremely helpful in trying to create plans that achieve both without over training. But I really appreciate the attention and info for female athletes – this article in particular. There is much more work to be done by the research community – but anything that continues to educate women about the value of resistance training is a needed step to a healthier community
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."
One popular recommendation for weight loss is going "low carb." The range for what exactly constitutes low-carb varies among different individuals, but in general the target range runs between eating fewer than 50-150 grams of carbs per day. Fifty grams of carbs is equal to about one cup of raisin bran cereal or two slices of bread. It's not difficult to hit that target in one meal, or even a snack. To replace your carb-noshing habits, you'd have to include higher amounts of good fats and protein in your diet.
Though cardio burns more calories than strength training during those 30 sweaty minutes, pumping iron slashes more overall. A study in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that women who completed an hour-long strength-training workout burned an average of 100 more calories in the 24 hours afterward than they did when they hadn't lifted weights. At three sessions a week, that's 15,600 calories a year, or about four and a half pounds of fat—without having to move a muscle.

You may learn proper exercise form and increase your strength rapidly. Or this strength training thing may be intimidating and mentally and physically uncomfortable at first. Move at your own pace. Don’t force yourself to do too much too soon, but don’t hold yourself back too much either. Strength training isn’t about reaching the finish line as quickly as possible only to burn out halfway there — it’s about moving at a consistent, challenging pace to ensure you get there, and go beyond.


Poor fat: so misunderstood and neglected. Dietary fats got a bad rap due to a major landmark study from the 80s that—very erroneously—concluded dietary fats promote incidences of heart attacks and other illnesses. As a result of this, the government promoted eating as little fat as possible and corporations rolled out their fat-free and reduced fat foods to save everyone from their exploding hearts.

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!


The second portion of this first strength training note is exercises that provide the greatest benefits, and this is equally important. A dumbbell biceps curl, for example, has a small learning curve, but it won’t provide the greatest results for your effort. A better choice would be a cable pulldown using a palms-up grip — this exercise works your biceps and your back; this makes pulldowns a better choice than curls. Not only do they work a lot of muscle mass, but they have a much greater loading potential (i.e., you can get much stronger and progress quicker).
How her body has reacted: The main difference I notice is that people compliment me not only on my physique (lifting weights really helps out your booty!), but people are also impressed with what I can do. It’s more than just my appearance that gives them a positive impression. It’s so utterly empowering, no feeling can match that. The other bonus is that I don’t have to work out as often to maintain my fitness. I used to put in two or more cardio hours a day! Now if I miss a day or two, it doesn’t even matter. I can eat more. My body can burn the food as fuel just by standing there. It’s amazing to me how it all works.
This is the best article I have read in YEARS!!!! I have wanted more muscle for 25 years & the stupid trainers give me these dumb “woman’s training programs” to do, which from a woman’s point of view have NO EFFECT at all – I just got skinny and floppy – YUK YUK YUK so I stated doing the “manly stuff” a while ago & have been looking for a way to do a whole body workout over 2 separate days – I have found them!! Thank you for a “no pink pom-pom” option – I’m off to the gym!!
Paying attention to your form is definitely important when you’re doing bodyweight workouts, but the risk of injury goes up when you add more weight. Be sure you’re stretching regularly, and whenever  you have the opportunity, work with a trainer, physical therapist, chiropractor or structural integrationist who can help keep your bones and muscles working together and lined up.
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.
Muscle is denser than fat, meaning it takes up less space on your body. By losing fat and gaining muscle, you can stay the same weight – or even gain some – but actually be slimmer than you were before. Think of weight training as an investment that pays serious dividends down the road. The more muscle you have, the more calories (and fat) your body can burn over time.
×