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!

And this is where my fitness journey truly began. That said, I didn’t go from Cardio Fit Bunny to Girl Who Lifts in a week. I eased in by alternating between my HIIT and cardio-focused program a few days a week and weightlifting the others. After a few weeks, loving the way I felt lifting heavier, I gave my up the fat-burn routines and switched to weightlifting exclusively.
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).
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.

While some women, especially those facing illnesses or injuries that impede their ability to perform load-bearing exercise, do best with cardio only, most would benefit from adding some kind of weight training to their workout routine. Ko says it’s never too late to start, and adds that the “bro culture” of the weight room is changing and becoming more welcoming to people of all genders.


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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
How her body has reacted: The strength and confidence I’ve gained through powerlifting has changed my life and my perspective on fitness. There’s a stigma about women and powerlifting — the fear of gaining bulk. No, you will not bulk unless you have a strict meal plan that purposefully makes you bulk. You will gain definition and curves, which is what I believe many women who work out strive for. In addition, I’ve revisited running. I’ve noticed that I’m not tired as quickly. I also run faster and can run a longer distance without stopping. The fat I’ve lost and the muscle and strength I’ve gained through powerlifting have helped support my running milestones. If there was a zombie apocalypse, I think I’d be able to survive!
How her body has reacted: The strength and confidence I’ve gained through powerlifting has changed my life and my perspective on fitness. There’s a stigma about women and powerlifting — the fear of gaining bulk. No, you will not bulk unless you have a strict meal plan that purposefully makes you bulk. You will gain definition and curves, which is what I believe many women who work out strive for. In addition, I’ve revisited running. I’ve noticed that I’m not tired as quickly. I also run faster and can run a longer distance without stopping. The fat I’ve lost and the muscle and strength I’ve gained through powerlifting have helped support my running milestones. If there was a zombie apocalypse, I think I’d be able to survive!
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.
You should follow this up during your workout by sipping 2-3 servings of Xtend throughout your entire workout. This will ensure protein synthesis levels stay elevated and your body is primed for growth. While many people overlook the power of workout nutrition, with the Scivation Workout Nutrition Stack you can be ensured that your body has the nutrients and substrates it needs to performance better than ever and gain the lean muscle you never could before while supporting fat loss.
Yes, I totally agree with you. The most interesting part is the comparission fof “strongs” and “weaks”. I have to say that the subjetcts, men and women, didn’t differ much more in strenght. That was a pilot study for whats coming, where, spoiling you :P, women tend ton lower velocity decrements. Im working now with powerlifter, so the results would be more “realistic/practical”.
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.

Slowly, bend your arms to a 90-degree angle, lowering your entire body. Once you reach this angle, hold it for a second before straightening your arms again and resuming the starting position. This is one repetition. Aim for at least five repetitions to start, but do not exceed a dozen. To increase difficulty, place a heavy textbook or gym bag in your lap.
You should follow this up during your workout by sipping 2-3 servings of Xtend throughout your entire workout. This will ensure protein synthesis levels stay elevated and your body is primed for growth. While many people overlook the power of workout nutrition, with the Scivation Workout Nutrition Stack you can be ensured that your body has the nutrients and substrates it needs to performance better than ever and gain the lean muscle you never could before while supporting fat loss.
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.

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.
This video is proof positive that you don’t need to hit the gym—or have a ton of time or space—for a truly killer workout. Speed through this routine when your schedule is packed, and don’t worry: With exercises like one-legged squats and moving planks (and only 10 seconds of rest between each), you won’t be missing out on any muscle-building benefits.
While some women, especially those facing illnesses or injuries that impede their ability to perform load-bearing exercise, do best with cardio only, most would benefit from adding some kind of weight training to their workout routine. Ko says it’s never too late to start, and adds that the “bro culture” of the weight room is changing and becoming more welcoming to people of all genders.
Start standing, then bend at the waist, working to keep your knees as straight as possible (it’s OK if they bend though), and place your hands on the ground ear your feet. Keeping your core tight, walk your hands forward until you’re in pushup position. Pause for 1 second once you’re in good pushup position, then walk your hands back toward your feet, again trying to keep your knees as straight as possible. That’s 1 rep.
Progression is the secret ingredient for every successful training program. It's the reason your body changes over time. You can't do the exact same movements using the exact same weight for weeks and weeks and weeks and expect new results. You have to constantly push yourself. Once you develop a solid base, increase the weights, increase the reps, or decrease the rest periods.
Because of all of the muscle groups engaged simultaneously, this one is a calorie torcher! We estimate that in the 33 minutes of this video, the vast majority of the population will expend 8-12 calories a minute. That’s roughly 264-396 total. Here’s the thing; you can easily step up the burn even more by grabbing weights that are heavy & challenging for you to lift. Just make sure that you don’t ever sacrifice form for a heavier weight.
Increase the number of repetitions you complete. For example, if you’re currently completing 10 repetitions with proper form before moving on to the next heavier weight, increase that number to 12 and then 15. Once you can complete 15 reps with ease and proper form, increase the resistance by 5%. This “double progressive training protocol” is effective for strength development and helps reduce the risk of increasing the amount of weight before you’re ready.
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.

Start in downward dog position (hips high, bending at the waist, trying to keep your arms and torso in the same line), then lift your right leg off the ground and shift your right knee so it’s beside your right wrist. Your right shin should face forward. Keeping your left leg straight, slowly lower your hips toward the floor as far as you can; this flexibility will be different for every person and different on both sides of your body. This is the start position. Now lower your chest toward the ground as far as is comfortable. Lift your right arm off the ground and thread it past your left armpit, then reach it toward the ceiling. Repeatedly thread it past your left armpit and reach it toward the ceiling until time’s up, then repeat the process on the other side.


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.
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.
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).
That’s why I included the analysis of studies lasting 20+ weeks, to specifically look at studies where that sort of effect wouldn’t influence the results as much.  That’s also why I separated upper body and lower body strength gains, as I’d expect this type of effect would be more prevalent for upper body strength than lower body strength.  In support of the hypothesis that “untrained” women may be more untrained than “untrained” men – especially when it comes to upper body strength – women gained strength faster than men in shorter studies but not longer studies, and in measures of upper body strength but not lower body strength.
We cannot stress enough how important it is to maintain strict form on all movements. This means stabilizing your body and contracting your abs so you isolate the primary intended muscles. For example, when doing a standing barbell curl, tighten your abs and do not rock or swing the weight. By tightening your abs, you stabilize your body and prevent momentum. This will also help condition your abs and save your lower back from injury.
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.
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?
To go a little deeper, we can look at powerlifting meet results to see how the gap between men and women shifts when comparing less competitive lifters to more competitive lifters.  As mentioned in a previous article, women lift about 67% as much as men in the squat, 56% in the bench, and 71% in the deadlift, on average (using allometric scaling to correct for differences in body mass).  However, those gaps are larger when looking at less successful lifters (those in the 10th percentile of relative strength) and smaller when looking at more successful lifters (those in the 90th percentile of relative strength).  A 5th percentile woman has about 62% as much relative strength as a 5th percentile man in the squat, 53% in the bench, and 67% in the deadlift. On the other hand, a 95th percentile woman has about 71% as much relative strength as a 95th percentile man in the squat, 60% in the bench, and 75% in the deadlift.  An analysis of weightlifting results in CrossFitters had similar findings (though they didn’t correct for differences in body mass):  larger sex gaps in snatch and clean & jerk performance in lower-level lifters and smaller gaps in higher-level lifters.

As for muscle growth, there are certainly women who are genetically better at building muscle than other women… just like some men have better genetics for it than other men. But even then, the worst case scenario is that she builds whatever amount of muscle she’d like to build faster than the average woman can (which, by the way, is still fairly slow) and then just stops trying to build additional muscle beyond that point by simply training to maintain rather than progress.

I just stumbled onto the Muscle and Strength website, and I'm really pleased with all of the information. I am 54 years old and frustrated with the 10-15 lbs gained since my full hysterectomy 4 years ago. I have always been active, have lifted weights for over 30 years, and have been an aerobic instructor for in past years. I am well educated in weight loss and weight lifting but can't seem to get back into shape after my hysterectomy. My doctor says that I should focus on programs that emphasize muscle growth as more muscle will burn more calories. In your opinion, would this program be the best fit for me? Thanks for your help!
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