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).

There were 28 comparisons of indirect measures of muscle growth (i.e. lean body mass), encompassing 1,607 subjects.  In these studies, men increased measures of lean mass by 2.03%, on average, while women increased measures of lean mass by 1.92%.  The average difference was -0.11%, with a 95% confidence interval from -0.40-0.19%. This was not a significant difference (p=0.47).
The nutrition section of most weight training guides will try to shove a boilerplate nutrition plan in your face, but that's not how we roll. We want to instill the idea that—metabolically and physiologically—your body is unique. What works for someone else may not work for you. Understanding how your own body works and discovering your dietary needs are important concepts to remember as you form your own nutritional strategy.
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.
How much weight should you use? I can’t answer that, specifically. The first thing you must do is learn how to correctly perform each exercise. Once you’re confident with the movement, use a challenging weight for every exercise, and get stronger every time you repeat the workout (more on this below). What does a “challenging weight” mean? You should have to focus and work fairly hard using an appropriate weight for the provided rep range. Stated another way: If you can easily perform 10 or more reps with a weight or variation when the goal is to perform challenging sets of 5-8 reps, it’s too easy. Use warm-up sets to find the correct weight.
If you got something out of this article, I’d really appreciate it if you’d share it with your friends, your gym buddies, and anyone else who you think might benefit.  Since women are so underrepresented in strength training research, I find that this is a topic with so much misinformation swirling around.  I hope this article can serve as a small beacon of sanity.
Please pay attention to the way you walk, the way you stand. For instance, when you're waiting in line at the bank, are you leaning your body weight on one hip only, jutting your hip out to the side? How do you carry your shoulder bag? If you play a sport, such as tennis or golf, are you always leading with your strong side? Try and always do things evenly and notice your posture. Eventually it will be second nature to be even and balanced.
Ok, so all fears gone! I will give it a try, and the cool part is that since my husband and I are trying to do something together, without kids, and look better, we could do this! But I am confused as to the ‘losing fat’ and ‘building muscle’ separate dietary reqs. I want both?! And how long to do the beginners workout before moving onto intermediate… Other than that, I’m very excited to start! I’m going to do before and after pics, and document progress. Awesome!
Tbh, I think bias assessment is a bit different here vs. topics where the hypothesis is that there are differences between two things (you generally wouldn’t state a hypothesis in a meta-analysis, but there’s generally one there implicitly). The primary bias in research is publication bias – you slice and dice data to get significant findings, and significant findings are way more likely to get published than non-significant findings. So, if there’s high risk of bias and significant differences, you should probably assume the actual mean effect is smaller than the one you came up with.
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.
How should I warm up for each exercise? Begin with a weight (or variation for bodyweight exercises) that allows you to perform 10 easy reps. Then add a little weight and perform 5-8 reps. You can perform a third set of 3-5 reps, with a heavier weight, if needed. Use the warm-up sets to find the proper weight/variation to use for the work sets. The goal of the warm-up sets is to hone proper technique and prepare you for the main workout.
Essential fatty acids (EFAs) are vital to the proper functioning on your body. Dietary fats got a bad rap due to the diet fads of the 80’s and 90’s, which promoted eating as little fat as possible, but in reality EFAs are needed by the body and are part of a healthy diet. Eating fats does not equate to getting fat. In fact, most EFAs help support the fat burning process and maintaining a lean body. Do not be scared to eat good fats. EFAs are not the enemy. Also, be sure to supplement with a QUALITY EFA product, such as Scivation Essential FA.
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.
Some muscle soreness is likely when you start strength training, but you shouldn’t be cripplingly holy-crap-I’m-stuck-on-the-toilet sore for several days afterward. It’s an unfortunate fact that women are often encouraged to seek out extreme soreness, like it’s a badge of honor or, worse, that it’s the only indicator of a successful workout. (This is merely one of many misconceptions of the mind-boggling bullshit of health and fitness.)

"Exhale: Core Fusion--Pure Arms & Abs" is a gently flowing mix of Pilates, ballet, yoga and dance. "Pilates for Beginners with Kristen McGee" starts with Pilates toning basics and slowly adds more challenges, making it appropriate for beginner through intermediate-level exercisers. Bryan Kest's "Power Yoga" series includes a collection of three 50-minute intermediate to advanced power yoga workouts that tone, define and challenge your body to go beyond its comfort zone. Karen Voight's "Pilates Total Body Training" workout features Pilates-based routines that use a Pilates Circle device. If you enjoy the challenge of both yoga and Pilates then Karen Voight's "YogaSculpt" might be for you. It integrates yoga, muscle toning and Pilates mat routines.
If someone else wants to use the equipment too, you can offer to let them “work in with you” – which means they do their sets while you rest, and vice versa. If you’re not comfortable with this (and chances are for your first few workouts you won’t be), it’s okay to say no or not offer. If you say no, be nice about it. Say something like “I’m almost done, just one more set and it’s all yours!” If you are comfortable with it, usually you and the other person will work together to change the weights in between each set.
This program would be an excellent choice with those goals in mind. In terms of calories, I'd recommend maintenance for the first month, +200 the second, and + 200 the third. Lastly, you can skip some of the optional cardio if you wish or you can adjust your calorie intake to account for the calories burned if you'd like to obtain the cardiovascular benefits.
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