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.

I highly prefer dumbbells to exercise machines, for the reasons I've said before. In other words, if you sit down on a machine and press something up, you're really getting good at sitting on a machine and pressing something up. If you sit on a ball or stand in a squat position and press up a set of dumbbells, not only are you working your shoulders, you're working your core muscles, which are your abdominals and lower back, and you're challenging your balance and coordination. In real life, we need all of those things.
If the running burns enough calories to put you into a deficit and cause fat loss, your legs will likely get smaller as a result of losing some of the fat that is on them. It’s also possible for some forms of intense running to build some lower body muscle. Then again, look at a bunch of marathon runners and you probably won’t see a muscular leg among them.
Get on all fours with feet and knees hip-width apart. Place hands shoulder-width apart and spread fingers wide. Pressing firmly through hands, lift knees off mat and straighten legs. Walk hands forward and feet backwards to adjust position. (If you have tight hamstrings, bend knees gently.) Squeeze thighs and imagine pressing them against a flat plane. Press heels down onto mat as much as possible [shown]. Keep neck relaxed and breathe deeply.

Hold two light-to-medium-weight dumbbells with an overhand grip and let them hang at arm’s length in front of your thighs. Lift your left leg a few inches off the floor behind you; this is the starting position. Keeping your lower back naturally arched, hinge at your hips and lower your torso until it's almost parallel to the floor. Let your left leg stretch out behind you with your toes pointed down to the floor the entire time. The dumbbells should travel straight down toward the floor. Return to the starting position without letting the toes of your left foot touch the floor. That’s 1 rep. Do 2 sets per leg.


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.
In a 2011 opinion poll reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), less than 20 percent of women contacted said they accomplished the CDC’s recommendations for 2 1/2 hours of aerobic exercise and two periods of strength training weekly. Yet the benefits speak for themselves. Inactive adults experience a 3 to 8 percent loss of muscle mass per decade. Resistance training may increase resting metabolism by about 7 percent and help minimize muscle loss.
Johanna, I agree with you on the general importance of checking SRs and MAs for these points. But have you thought how these biases would represent themselves specifically *in this very topic*? You sound as if this was an SR on a drug or surgical procedure with a clear risk and direction and means of accomplishing a biased result . Greg subtlely pointed out that this topic is a lot different.

Hi Jay.Your site is a breath of fresh air.I’m 67 and have loved working out with weights for years.Started with library physique books as they were called when I was a boy.Common sense books that taught progressive weight training.Thank you for bringing back that common sense for today’s people.I will send this information about training to my daughter. She will appreciate your advice. Best regards


There were 32 comparisons of strength gains in young people, encompassing 1,745 subjects.  In these studies, men got 30.87% stronger, on average, while women got 45.71% stronger. The average difference was 14.84%, with a 95% confidence interval from 10.26-19.42%.  This was a significant difference (p<0.0001) and would be considered a medium effect (d=0.56; 95% CI: 0.39-0.74).  On average, strength increased about 48% faster in young women.
Most people should do both kinds of exercise for the biggest gains. But if you had to choose one, Clark advises, pick strength training. “Cardio is more digestible, it’s less intimidating, but people also get less and less out of it over time,” she says. As you grow fitter, you have to do more and more aerobic exercise to see the gains, she explains. Strength training, in her view, is the most efficient exercise for those with limited time.
Grab a pair of kettlebells, and set up with your feet just outside both bells. Hinge at the hip so you’re able to grab the handles of both bells; this should put you in a position similar to a deadlift position, and your hips should be lower than your shoulders. Tighten your glutes slightly and brace your core. Working to keep your back flat and rotating your hips only slightly, lift the right kettlebell and row it toward your lower chest, while still gripping the left kettlebell. Return the right kettlebell to the ground, then repeat on the left side. That’s 1 rep. Do 3 sets.

Most women have “trouble areas” or places on the body where the most fat is stored and it is difficult to get rid of. In most women these areas are primarily the thighs, glutes (butt), and in some women the triceps (back of the arms) and “love handles”. After dieting to lose weight and tone up these trouble areas the last thing you want to do is regain excess fat. If you don’t keep your diet clean and controlled you will gain fat, and it will most likely be in these trouble areas. We will go over why these trouble areas exist and then outline a plan to keep these trouble areas lean and sexy while adding lean mass.

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.
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.
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.
The book is clearly written by a woman who enjoys yoga and balance balls. She demonstrates exercises for the absolute beginner, and the steps you can take to challenge yourself further as your fitness improves. There are plenty of options for home or gym, and lots of helpful tips. Most exercises use your own body weight, light hand weights, resistance band, or balance ball.
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.

I like this article; it’s great to see someone talking about how women should work out the same way men do, and I love all your BS calling. Please, please know, though, that there are lots of women who WANT to get big. We don’t all want to be skinny and little. I want big f**king muscles. I know I won’t bulk up like most men will. But we’ve all got different goals, and the “3lb pink dumbbells” comes off as condescending.

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.
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.

In medical school, she’d counsel patients on the importance of exercise and feel like a hypocrite, she says, since she did little but shuttle from home to the hospital, spending her rare free time catching up on sleep. “My body didn’t feel good, and my mind didn’t feel very good either,” she says. But once she started taking her own advice, as a resident at Loyola University Medical Center, Dena quickly became a hard-core strength-training fanatic. Within a month of learning how to lift weights, she noticed she had more energy without needing as much sleep, she felt far less stressed out, and she saw her body tone up fast.


Start in pushup position, with your hands directly beneath your shoulders. Tighten your core and glutes and perform a pushup, lowering your torso to an inch from the ground. Press back to the start, and as you do this, remove your right arm from the ground and touch your right hand to your left shoulder. Pause for one second in this position tightening your core and trying to keep your hips level, then return to the starting pushup position. Repeat the process on the other side. This move will challenge you, but you’re continuing to build core stability. Alternate reps on each side for 3 sets. During Week 5, do the move for 40 seconds during each set, then rest for 20. During Week 6, work for 50 seconds, then rest for 10.

Cardio history: I wouldn’t consider myself an avid runner, but it was my top-choice workout before I discovered lifting. I would run on treadmills or trails around a lake or hillsides, do some kind of kettlebell workout, followed by whatever diet fad I was on at the moment. One thing was clear to me: I wasn’t getting any results. Sure, running made me sweat like a maniac and gasp for air every second. But I was also injured quite often. I would consistently hurt my hips, knees and ankles.
High Intensity Interval Training or HIIT is training where you alternate between intervals of high-intensity and low-intensity exercise. An example would be sprinting all-out for 100 meters then walking for 100 meters then repeating. One cannot sprint at full intensity for a prolonged time because sprinting and any other form of high-intensity cardio utilizes the anaerobic energy systems, specifically the Phosphocreatine system, which power short-term activity. After going all out, one must rest and give the Phosphocreatine system time to “recharge”. Additionally after sprinting all-out a couple times you are going to start feeling fatigued. After 10 sprints you are pretty much worn out. While you might not be able to sprint at full speed anymore you can still walk and jog as the intensity is not as high as sprinting and other uses the aerobic energy systems.

Grab a pair of kettlebells, and set up with your feet just outside both bells. Hinge at the hip so you’re able to grab the handles of both bells; this should put you in a position similar to a deadlift position, and your hips should be lower than your shoulders. Tighten your glutes slightly and brace your core. Working to keep your back flat and rotating your hips only slightly, lift the right kettlebell and row it toward your lower chest, while still gripping the left kettlebell. Return the right kettlebell to the ground, then repeat on the left side. That’s 1 rep. Do 3 sets.
Start lying on your back, arms and legs extended. Tighten your abs, pressing your lower back into the floor as you do so. This should lift your legs off the floor; work to keep them straight. Lift your shoulder blades off the floor as well; keep extending your arms back as you do this. Do 4 reps. During Week 7, try to maintain the hollow hold for 40 seconds, then rest for 20. During Week 8, aim for 50-second holds, then rest for 10 seconds between reps. Can’t hold that long? Hold for as long as you can, then come out of the hold and get right back into it until time’s up.
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.
Start lying on your back, arms and legs extended. Tighten your abs, pressing your lower back into the floor as you do so. This should lift your legs off the floor; work to keep them straight. Lift your shoulder blades off the floor as well; keep extending your arms back as you do this. Do 4 reps. During Week 7, try to maintain the hollow hold for 40 seconds, then rest for 20. During Week 8, aim for 50-second holds, then rest for 10 seconds between reps. Can’t hold that long? Hold for as long as you can, then come out of the hold and get right back into it until time’s up.
To begin, hold a water jug in each hand and keep your arms straight by the sides of your body. Face away from the coffee table or chair. Prop one of your feet on a coffee table or chair so that your toes are resting comfortably on the surface. This is the starting position. One leg should be propped backward onto the coffee table or chair; the other leg should be straight.
Yohimbine is an alpha2 receptor antagonist. The catecholamine norepinephrine (NE) is released in times of stress and intense activity to increase the amount of available energy by releasing stores nutrients (i.e. fatty acids from fat cells). NE activates both the beta and alpha adrenergic receptors. Activation of the beta receptors increases fatty acid liberation from fat cells while activation of the alpha receptor inhibits liberation of fatty acids.
For starters, women tend to be less acutely fatigable than men, meaning they can generally do more reps per set at a given percentage of 1RM, do more sets with a fixed number of reps at a given percentage of 1RM, or both.  There are several factors underpinning this difference, but the two most important seem to be a) women tend to have a higher proportion of type I muscle fibers, which are more fatigue-resistant and b) women tend to have less muscle mass, so they don’t occlude blood vessels quite as quickly when lifting, meaning they can more efficiently deliver oxygen and clear metabolic waste products from their muscles.  (However, I’ll note that this isn’t a unanimous finding).
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.)
I have a question that I’m pretty embarrassed to ask in person so I’d like your opinion on it. I am a woman who prefers wearing men’s clothing. My current measurements make me fit a men’s XS. Even though I am a woman and it’s harder to build muscle, is it realistic for me to expect to bulk up at least to reach a size S or will results never be that big? I guess my question is, how much can a woman bulk up naturally by doing weight training? Thanks so much.
I just finished with the 12th week and I feel amazing. For the first time (IN MY LIFE) I feel muscle on my arms and can see my legs getting more defined. I lost around an inch on the narrowest part of my waist and lost 4 pounds! I'm not sure what I gained in muscle.... but either way, I'm pretty happy! It's not a "dramatic result" that lots of people notice, but it's enough to make me proud of myself!
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