I have always loved lifting, but I only started doing it regularly about 9 months ago. I needed to lose a bit of weight (fat), and I had no desire to sacrifice essential body parts to do so. After talking with some guy friends, I decided that lifting might be the answer. It was. I have lost two sizes, and 28 inches over all. I haven’t lost tons of weight, but I look like I have, and I did it without going on an excruciating and unsustainable diet.
Cardio history: In college, I gained more than the typical “freshman 15.” Once I graduated, I was fed up with being insecure about my body. I decided to try Zumba since I liked dancing and wasn’t a big fan of other fitness activities. I fell in love! I went two to three times a week at first. Once I started to feel better about working out, I started doing cycle classes, too. I’d say at that time, I was doing about four to five cardio classes a week. Eventually, I decided to get licensed in both Zumba and cycle and started teaching a few classes a week. I was still intimidated by weightlifting, so I kept to cardio because I was seeing weight loss.
Many people think of running or putting in 30 minutes on the elliptical as an example of moderate intensity cardio. While this is technically true, you can do any activity that keeps your heart rate in that 120 to 140 range. Of course, if you love running, who are we to make you stop? Just keep in mind that as “simple” as running seems, it’s an extremely advanced exercise that’s repetitive and high-impact. If it’s not done with great form, your likelihood of injury increases significantly (just like with lifting weights).
I’m so tired of watching friends do endless cardio and Zumba classes holding one-pound weighted sticks to ‘tone’ their arms. I’m also tired of hearing “aren’t you scared of getting bulky?” when I tell them about how I love squats and deadlifts and bench presses. I’ve been lifting heavy for about 8 months and my body hasn’t looked this good in years. Thanks for writing this article.
Stand holding medium-weight dumbbells at your sides, feet hip-width apart, core braced, knees slightly bent. This is the start. Hinge at your hips and push your butt backward, lowering your torso. Hinge until you feel a slight stretch in your hamstrings; focus on keeping your core braced as you do this. From this position, squeeze your shoulder blades and row the dumbbells to your ribcage. Pause, then lower the dumbbells and stand up, squeezing your glutes. That’s 1 rep. Do 3 sets.
I find it hilarious that women are afraid of getting too big or bulky. I just watched a video of Jennifer Thompson benching over twice her body weight. She is a completely normal-looking woman. Yes, she’s “toned”, but even with her arms and legs exposed, if I’d seen her out of context — say, wearing a t-shirt and shorts at the beach, or walking down the street — she wouldn’t have stood out from anyone else wearing the same amount of clothing. Maybe if she’d been wearing a bikini she would’ve stood out a bit just because of how muscular her upper arms, shoulders, pecs, and abs probably are; but she certainly wasn’t “big” or “bulky” compared to an average woman.
The unfortunate problem with injury prevention is that no one seems to worry about it until they’re already injured or in pain. On the surface, some women appear to be exceptionally strong, but upon closer inspection, they’re actually ticking time bombs for an injury because they never built a solid foundation of good movement before piling on the heavy weights.
“There are so many misconceptions about strength and resistance training,” says Larry Tucker, a professor in exercise sciences at Brigham Young University. “One is that you’ll become muscle-bound”—so bulked up that your body becomes rigid. That myth was somewhat dispelled when athletes who started strength-training saw that they could hit a ball farther, jump higher and run faster, Tucker says. “Gradually we started realizing there are benefits beyond sports.”
There are some things on here that you can do from home if you own the equipment, such as I do, but there are some things you cannot do without going to a gym… because who really owns a Leg press in their home? That is why there are alternatives to almost ANY exercises such as using resistance bands instead of cables for the cable curls, etc. Tweak the program to best suit your needs!
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.
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.
But frankly I don’t dare to do them in the gym, I get weird looks and/or regular comments on how manly I will be soon, likee you said, overnight. 🙂 So I do them on my doorway pull-up bar. Short-term goal is chins for reps with a 20kg kettlebell… long term goal is the same with an overhand grip. And no, I’m not huge/bulky/manly. 🙂 Maybe by tomorrow morning! :))
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.
How can one express that this is not the case any more clearly than explaining relative gains, different baselines and even addressing the implications of the results (the very fear of getting as big vs not getting any muscularity) at great lengths like Greg did? Hey, this is strongerbyscience, the home of strong-nerds, not the clientele for a …dumb-sized pink message sticker or fitness catchphrase in a glossy lifestyle magazine. I expect the audience of this blog of having above average interest in and knowledge about the topic and reading comprehension (only their written English becomes bumpy at times as a non-native speaker like me…). I fully trust the overwhelming majority to understand the article the right way and even educate others about it.
If you are in reasonably good physical condition and need to lose a few pounds, you can check out our high-power fat-loss program. But if you’re starting from scratch with a lot of weight to lose and not much experience with exercise programs, then this program is for you. It’s based around walking and weights, and also includes one weekly session of what's called a "circuit program."
This is most-likely due to not being informed, or even misinformed (by the media), about how women should train. What about diet? One of the most common breakfast meals recommended to women is yogurt and a banana. Now there is nothing wrong with eating a yogurt and banana, but where is the protein and essential fatty acids? If you are a woman trying to gain lean muscle, you will need to eat adequate protein and good fats (essential fatty acids). It is time to stop listening to the media and misinformed individuals and time to become educated and get results. In this article, we will go over some basic diet and training information and then direct you to where YOU can get diet and training help and direction!
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.
I hope you can take something away from this article. If you’re a woman, I hope it was illuminating and empowering. If you train women, I hope it was informative. Men and women are more alike than different when it comes to training responses, but similar doesn’t mean identical. Women are not just smaller versions of men, though they should expect the same relative rate of progress a man would.
In this case, most of the comparisons were nonsignificant, so if there are more unpublished null results floating around out there, they’d just reinforce the main finding here (and, in point of fact, there were; I also came across about a dozen studies stating that there were no significant differences between men and women in either strength or hypertrophy, but they didn’t report enough number or have figures to actually make a quantitative comparison). And for the significant differences, I don’t mind too much if they’re potentially overestimates because a) I’m very confident they’re true differences (I calculated how large of a true null would be needed to get below the significance threshold – it would take a study with anywhere from 3,000-11,000 subjects, depending on the comparison) and I’m not too hung up on the actual magnitude and b) I think the differences are probably only applicable for short-term training responses anyways (no differences in studies lasting 20+ weeks) so a misestimation of magnitude for short-term differences wouldn’t impact long-term implications to any real degree anyways.
HIIT cardio is the most effective for fat-burning, and it's actually really easy to do. Choose a cardio machine, a piece of equipment like a Kettlebell, or just use your bodyweight. The point is to do intervals of movement as intensely as you can. At first, go for something like 30 seconds of work followed by one minute of rest. Do these intervals for 20 minutes. As you get better, you can increase the work time and decrease the rest time.
Alistair went through the most horrific experiences in the 2nd world war. If you think of one of the awful things that happened back then in our world, Alistair went through at least 3 of them! Asked afterwards how did you cope? He talked about how whatever they did to his body, no matter how they starved, tortured, threatened or mocked him, they couldn’t have his mind. In his mind he was free.
With over four million subscribers, Fitness Blender has become the ultimate resource for at-home fitness videos. With 500+ full-length (from 10 minutes to over an hour long) practices and 25 years of experience between the husband and wife training duo, the channel can easily be used as the only resource to create a full fitness routine. They advertise “no gimmicks,” which is true as you always know what you’re in for—from the titles detailing if equipment is needed to the on-screen timer keeping track of seconds until an exercise is complete. While the videos are completely free, the trainers do offer scheduled programs at a price that is low compared to many in the industry. For a challenge, pick any of the videos with “Brutal” in the title—it will be exactly that.
While I was training for endurance events ... at times I felt run down, and it would be hard to eat properly and I would end up bingeing. I also was in the constant mindset of needing to be thinner to excel in endurance events, which would lead me to eat too few calories and again I would end up bingeing. So although my calorie burn was much higher while training for marathons and Ironmans, my nutrition was not nearly as good. The other thing that has changed is my confidence. I was always self-conscious of having big thighs, now I embrace them because they are strong thighs. These thighs let me squat a lot of weight! It is funny, I am even more confident in my running (short distances, of course!) and have run a lifetime mile personal record this year. I am so much more confident in my own skin, which transfers to all aspects of my life.
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.
A 1985 study by Hunter had men and women do full-body training either three or four times per week for seven weeks. Lean body mass increased by less than a kilo in all four groups, and bench press strength increased significantly more in the group training four times per week than the group training three times per week. The male subjects increased their bench press by 11.87% and 16.69% in the groups training three and four times per week, respectively, while the female subjects increased their bench press by 19.54% and 33.33%. Strength gains were not significantly different between the sexes.
Element 5 Day Yoga offers five 15-minute sequences to pick and choose from based on your mood and motivation. "It's an easy way to get to the mat every day," one tester said, whether your body needs a Stretch & Restore session or more of an invigorating Energy & Flexibility set. Plus "the instructor provided just enough guidance, no unnecessary chatter." Namaste to that.
Fast forward to now and I’m incredibly proud of where I’ve gotten in the past few years. I’m a personal trainer and group fitness instructor in NYC. I went from zero strength to being able to dead-lift over 200 pounds, doing several pullups in a row, and can clean and jerk almost my body weight. [Editor’s note: “Clean and jerk” refers to a weightlifting movement in which the barbell is pulled up to chest and shoulder height and then hoisted above the head.] I tell every woman I meet to stop being shy and get in that weight room! If you don’t know where to begin, hire someone. You will never realize what your body is truly capable of until you start picking up real weights.
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.
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.