Begin with three weight-training sessions each week, recommends Joe Dowdell, founder and co-owner of the New York City gym Peak Performance. For the greatest calorie burn, aim for total-body workouts that target your arms, abs, legs, and back, and go for moves that will zap several different muscle groups at a time—for example, squats, which call on muscles in both the front and back of your legs, as opposed to leg extensions, which isolate the quads.
The average American flat-out loathes strength training. While about half of people do the recommended amount of aerobic activity each week, only 20% also do the muscle-strengthening moves that work major muscle groups. Yet the scientific benefits are stacking up in favor of it, from bone protection to disease prevention, and it appears to have special benefits for women.
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.
Why she switched: I made the switch to more heavy lifting and dedicated powerlifting because I was always injured. I would get at least two injuries a year that would knock me out for two months, many of them stress fractures. So I knew I needed to build stronger bones, hips and glutes to support my endurance activities, and the light weightlifting wasn’t cutting it. A CrossFit gym near my house was starting an eight-week powerlifting class that was going to provide a program and culminate in a competition. It was great to have the support and coaching for the proper form. I ended up adapting quickly and falling in love with the heavy lifts and the powerlifting program. I broke six Illinois state records at the competition and was hooked. I also did not get injured that year.
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.
If you’re new to strength training, simply moving and manipulating the weight of your own body can lead to some desired adaptation within your body in terms of getting stronger and adding muscle mass. In fact, it’s vitally important to master the basics of movement and being able to comfortably handle your own body weight before you add external load (i.e., anything you can add to increase the resistance of a movement, like a band, a sandbag, a chain, a kettlebell, a dumbbell, or a barbell).
With four different 16-week programs—that’s 64 weeks of training—you get over a year’s worth of workouts, including progressions to ensure that you continue making progress. You’ll also get a training manual, exercise glossary, progress tracker, a bonus conditioning manual, plus a video library with over 70 high-definition videos breaking down each exercise, step by step.
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.
One criticism: in most post the “correct form” is spoken about. I have never done weight training, let alone stepped in to the weight room at gym. Could you perhaps include an introductory post about the items one may find in the weights room and which ones are commonly used and how to use them (how do you know how to grip a dumbell? How do you grip a bar? Where? Why? When should you use gloves/chalk?) If possible, I would suggest a post about what “good form” is – when lifting where should you look, how far down should you bend, if lifting a dumbell am I allowed to swing, and for the excercises which muscles should you feel working?) I know this is a lot, but I suspect it will help clear up uncertainties about working out in the gym and at home. Plus it will be helpful to me to know which end of the bar/dumbell/thing to use! 😛
So, for example, with the moves above you'd do 15 squats followed by 15 push-ups. Take a little breather then repeat that two more times. Then you move on to your walking lunges and lat pull-downs (and repeat those three times total, too). You can really do anywhere from eight reps to 15 (and even just two sets, if you don't have time for three), but "it’s not a bad idea for beginners to start with a 15-rep range to get comfortable with the exercises," says Davis. And while there's some debate over whether three sets of an exercise is really best, "it’s a great beginner model," says Davis. Don't overcomplicate things when you're just getting started.
Celebrity fitness instructor Tracy Anderson (clients include Madonna, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Jennifer Lopez) offers six 10-minute, total-body dance workouts in this DVD. The first lesson covers basic steps, while the other routines have titles like "Cardio Party" and "Sweat Fest." Don't worry if you have two left feet though, as Anderson says even novice dancers can master these moves.
Personal trainer Rachel Cosgrove, owner of Results Fitness in Santa Clarita, California, created a built-to-burn strength-training routine exclusively for Women's Health readers that you can tap into online. Each move works multiple muscle groups, so you'll burn a ton of calories and rev your metabolism into high gear for 24 to 48 hours afterward. For best results, do 10 to 12 reps of each move, breaking just long enough to catch your breath in between; repeat for two to three sets. Get the workout.
To hammer this point home: Staci wrote the majority of our free guide, Strength Training 101: Everything You Need to Know. The videos we mention and link to within the guide are generally of her demonstrating them. And we know that women often have to face additional challenges when training in the weight section of a gym (usually it’s idiot dudes who think they need help, ugh).