Why: "This move is one of the number-one strengthening exercises that physical therapists use for back health," says Perkins. "It strengthens your ‘posterior chain' muscles that guide nearly every move you make, including your core, glutes, back, and shoulder muscles all at once, while helping to open the hips and shoulders." (Try these 12 hip-opening yoga poses for even more strength and flexibility.)
Sit with both feet about hip-width apart on the ground, feet flat on the floor. Your shoulder blades should be against a bench, arms wide for stability. Lift your right foot off the ground, raising it as high as you can and bending your knee. This is the start. Now brace your core, and use your left glute to press your entire torso off the ground, driving your torso and left thigh so they’re parallel to the ground. Pause here, then return to the start. That’s 1 rep; do 2 sets per leg.
Mix-and-match interval training works magic in Natalie Jill's Rev4 Rev It Up. The four 10-minute routines hit different trouble zones so you can do them as stand-alones—"I definitely felt I got a good workout after each," one tester said—or combine them for a total-body session. Testers loved that they could "switch things up for time-pressed mornings" and gave props to instructor Jill's "nice energy." Expect a variety of planks and booty-shaping moves.
Just shy of an hour long, this video is a killer aerobic kickboxing workout. You’ll throw punches and kicks in supercharged sequences as you follow along with the ebullient Billy Blanks. Don’t be surprised if you start talking back to the screen, especially when Blanks looks straight into the camera and declares, “I see you at home! Keep going!” Talk about motivation.
One strength training tip: Don't forget to breathe freely when you're lifting the weight. Most people think that they're breathing when they're doing strength training exercises, but they may be holding their breath. It's important to inhale and exhale fully between each repetition. The key is to keep from straining when holding your breath. You may find it helpful to exhale during the more strenuous phase of the exercise and inhale during the less strenuous phase.

With that being said, it’s certainly possible that there were differences in real-world training status that are basically impossible for a study to account for.  For example, if the men tended to train like hardcore powerlifters or bodybuilders, and the women tended to do the sort of lighter, higher-rep “toning” workouts that are often recommended to women, it would make sense that the women would gain strength faster.  In other words, “research tends to indicate that trained women still gain strength quicker than trained men, but I’m concerned those studies are hampered by methodological limitations, so I’ll continue to assume the null (similar relative rates of strength gains) until research on a more representative population is conducted” is also a very defensible position.
When we obsess solely on our physique, we end up miserable and we never get the body we want because that perfect body doesn’t exist. When you focus on wellbeing, though, you become proud of how far your body has come and happy with how great you feel. Focusing on what you can accomplish rather than what you look like is how you become the best version of yourself.
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Most of the time, there are meta-analyses to answer questions like this.  A meta-analysis is essentially a “study of studies,” pooling the results from many different (smaller) research projects to make some sort of comparison.  Meta-analyses are useful because individual studies may have skewed results, and a single study can’t possibly hope to answer every facet of a general research question like “how do relative gains in strength and muscle mass differ between men and women?” (What if they used different exercises?  What if they used different training programs? What if they manipulated diet differently? What if they used people in a different age range? What if the study lasted twice as long? etc.)
Great article. I’ve been in the weight room now for almost two months and I love it. Im 5’8 130 and I’m already seeing results. I have biceps! I went from the tiny weights to 35 lbs bicep concentration curls. My husband is my acting trainer. It was very intimidating at first but I actually get the head nods from the guys at the gym so I feel accepted. I think they are just trying to see if I keep coming back. I cant wait to see how far I can go.
Cardio history: I’ve been a runner/jogger/walker the majority of my life. In my early 30s, I did a lot of running races but stopped after I became a mom at 35. Then, my cardio routine depended on what I could get done while tending to a little kid. As my daughter got older, I returned to the gym sporadically and sometimes had trainers help me (but that could never last because of the expense factor). My very recent routine, before I began lifting, was jogging on the treadmill at the recommended “fat burn” rate about two times a week, and walking briskly outdoors about five times a week for about 4 miles each time.
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
Now that we’ve given you an idea of how good strength training is for women, let’s talk about what strength training is. Strength training is any type of movement or exercise that imposes an increasing demand on your muscles and/or central nervous system, causing an adaptation. Contrary to what many people believe, lifting heavy weights is not even necessary in the beginning.
The express route to a two-piece starts here: Bikini Body: Absolution. The pair of 20-minute workouts take the burn-and-firm approach to cinching with a cardio-focused session of jumps, squats, lunges and planks, then a toning series of what a reviewer described as "new-to-me ab exercises that kick the typical crunch's booty." Get ready for the wood-chopping arabesque move, one tester jokingly warned. So sore but so sleek!
In the first few minutes, Leslie Sansone’s programs feel reminiscent of cheesy 1980s workout videos full of ever-present smiles, constant beats and tightly synchronized movements. After completing one of her 45-minute videos and probably working up a sweat, you’ll quickly realize that her walks are so much more than meets the eye. By incorporating interval training (even if not expressly stated) and keeping participants moving for the entirety of the practice, Walk at Home provides a full workout with zero equipment. It’s perfect for people who may be dealing with various physical limitations, or just want to find an alternative form of cardio to the classic options. For beginners, we recommend the shorter, one mile walks; to kick it up a notch, try the weighted videos for added strength training.
Keep your body fueled. Proper nutrition is also critical to lean muscle development, and fueling before and after a workout helps maximize the benefits of strength-training exercises, research has found. Before your strength workout, a light snack with carbohydrates and protein in a 4:1 ratio has been shown to be most beneficial. Examples include low-fat yogurt and a banana, or low-fat string cheese with whole-grain crackers. Within 45 minutes after a workout, eat some carbs and protein in a 3:1 ratio – such as stir-fried chicken and vegetables over brown rice.
"I make my own home workouts from YouTube videos, online articles, and magazines. Most of my moves include high-intensity interval training, military exercises, and yoga. Working out at home is perfect for me because I hated the feeling of having to 'perform' at the gym, and I felt too intimidated to try new moves and equipment. Now I try new stuff all the time. I had neck surgery years ago, and my workouts have helped me regain my fitness and increase my endurance. I went from barely being able to walk to doing a Tough Mudder race. I'm also so much stronger—I can do pullups and handstand pushups now. I'm so proud of the way my body looks and performs." —Betty Nordengren, Aurora, IL
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."
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.
The general guideline for an active individual's intake of protein is about one gram of protein per pound of bodyweight. If you weigh 135 pounds, you would aim to eat approximately 135 grams of protein. Since it's difficult to consume that much protein in two or three meals, people tend to spread it out over multiple meals and ensure that some form of protein accompanies every meal.
There were 53 comparisons of lower body strength gains, encompassing 2,287 subjects.  In these studies, men got 28.47% stronger, on average, while women got 30.64% stronger.  The average difference was 2.17%, with a 95% confidence interval from -0.92-5.26%. This was nearly a significant difference (p=0.087), but probably isn’t practically relevant and would be considered a trivial effect (d=0.08; 95% CI: -0.03-0.19).
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.
Want to lose fat and achieve a toned looking physique? Fantastic! To achieve those results you must improve your strength training performance every time you repeat a workout. As a beginner strength trainee, getting stronger must be your sole priority in the gym. For the first several months you should (a) perform more reps with the same weight, (b) increase the weight, and/or (c) perform more sets for each exercise.
There were 53 comparisons of lower body strength gains, encompassing 2,287 subjects.  In these studies, men got 28.47% stronger, on average, while women got 30.64% stronger.  The average difference was 2.17%, with a 95% confidence interval from -0.92-5.26%. This was nearly a significant difference (p=0.087), but probably isn’t practically relevant and would be considered a trivial effect (d=0.08; 95% CI: -0.03-0.19).
Jillian Michaels, the star trainer on "The Biggest Loser" TV series, has a series of workout videos that feature her boot camp style of motivation. "No More Trouble Zones" is a DVD that highlights classic exercises such as squats, triceps kickbacks and lunges with bicep curls. Cathe Friedrich is known for her challenging workouts using an ultra-high step and heavy weights. Her "Butts and Guts," "Muscle Max" and "Core Max" workout videos will challenge even advanced exercisers. Kathy Smith's "Lift Weights to Lose Weight Double" offers seven 26-minute workouts targeting every muscle using a Swiss ball and dumbbells. Master instructor Karen Voight's "Firm Arms and Abs" and "Lean Legs and Buns" are two separate 40-minute videos that will define your entire body. "Maximum Body Shaping" includes 46 minutes of classic dumbbell toning exercises and intense plyometrics to accelerate muscle fatigue.
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).
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).
Spark People shares short videos for all different types of home workouts, no equipment required. There are several categories – Abs, Cardio, Yoga and Pilates, as well as others that diver into healthy cooking and eating ideas. These workouts are great when you are pinched for time. Choose a 10-12 minute routine and squeeze in some activity where you normally would have skipped it altogether.
Second . . . the amount of time and effort that is actually required to gain muscle is something women likely don’t think about much. Maybe the cardio addicts hear “lift heavy things” and immediately have a negative reaction based on 30 or so years of hype about how women should workout. I have always hung out with guys who lift and have heard the celebratory cheers for each and every gain made, so I went into the whole lifting thing with my eyes wide open. Kudos for pointing this out!
Start with 5 reps for each exercise and use the same weight until you can perform 8 reps for every set. Once you can perform 4-5 sets of 8 reps with the same weight/variation for all sets, it’s time to add weight (to free weight exercises) or use a more challenging variation (for bodyweight exercises). Then return to 5 reps with the heavier weight/harder variation, and repeat.

Strength training is an area that is geared predominantly toward men. As a woman interested in strength training, I really appreciate that this article address the differences between men and women and helps me to understand what I can do to get the most out of my strength training. I love that there was a study done about strength gains specifically in women, it’s so interesting that women’s strength increased 27% faster than men’s.
I was wondering if you have an article concerning the apparent weight gain that seems to occur in the immediate weeks following the beginning of a workout/weight loss program. Clearly it can’t be from a ton of muscle gain (which everyone tells me it is, and I am totally with you that it mostly likely isn’t). Have you any articles that would help explain why one would gain weight rather than lose it in the first 2 months of cutting calories down to 1500 per day, religiously following a 3 day per week running program (rain or shine, 30 minutes at about 6:40 min/km), as well as working out at the gym another 3 days a week (Mostly compound exercises like squats and walking lunges, planks and assisted pull-ups) with only Sunday as a rest day?
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 .
If you've ever tried to ditch the saddlebags and ended up a bra size smaller instead, you know that where you lose is as important as how much. As great as it might be to see the numbers on the scale go down, when you're on a strict cardio-only program your victory is likely to be empty. A recent study at the University of Alabama at Birmingham compared dieters who lifted three times a week with those who did aerobic exercise for the same amount of time. Both groups ate the same number of calories, and both lost the same amount—26 pounds—but the lifters lost pure chub, while about 8 percent of the aerobicizers' drop came from valuable muscle. Researchers have also found that lifting weights is better than cardio at whittling intra-abdominal fat—the Buddha-belly kind that's associated with diseases from diabetes to cancer.
Tired of sweating all over every piece of cardio equipment at the gym and still getting zero love from the scale? You need more iron. Not in your diet—in your hands. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, a mere 21 percent of women strength train two or more times a week. What you don't know: When you skip the weight room, you lose out on the ultimate flab melter. Those two sessions a week can reduce overall body fat by about 3 percentage points in just 10 weeks, even if you don't cut a single calorie. That translates to as much as three inches total off your waist and hips. Even better, all that new muscle pays off in a long-term boost to your metabolism, which helps keep your body lean and sculpted. Suddenly, dumbbells sound like a smart idea. Need more convincing? Read on for more solid reasons why you should build flex time into your day.
A more manageable way to track your eating habits is to identify reasonable portion sizes. Most restaurants in America shove heaping piles of food in your face to appeal to your economical compass. More food means more value for your money, right? Getting more Bang Bang Chicken and Shrimp for your buck merely means you pay for it elsewhere, like your waistline. And it's not just at restaurants. People pile their plates high with Grandma's spaghetti even when they're at home.
What's more, increasing that afterburn is as easy as upping the weight on your bar. In a study in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, women burned nearly twice as many calories in the two hours after their workout when they lifted 85 percent of their max load for eight reps than when they did more reps (15) at a lower weight (45 percent of their max).

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.
If you’ve ever skipped a workout because you’re just too sore from a previous one (hey, these videos are tough!), you’re definitely not alone. That’s why we love this easy-to-follow routine. It features exercises that stretch and strengthen your muscles simultaneously so you give your body the chance to recover—without skipping a workout altogether. That’s what we consider a win-win.
This video is good for starting out. I was sore after doing it but I didn't feel like i was going to keel over or anything. I mean you'll definitely grow out of this video but it's good to get your head back in the muscle building routine. I'd also recommend this for like someone in their 40's+ because it's low impact and will just help you keep your strength up.

So I decided to get a gym membership and see what this weightlifting was all about. Then I started researching the best weight training regimen for my body. I scoured YouTube videos, listened to podcasts, even researched hypertrophy and the mechanisms behind developing muscle. Knowledge is very powerful, and even though I was by no means an expert at the time, it helped me gained the confidence to enter the weight room.
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