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.
Strength training by utilizing some form of resistance is a much better approach than focusing only on cardio if your goal is to achieve a toned, healthy physique, and there’s a lot of science to support it. Research shows that adding resistance training as part of your workout routine is a proven method for increasing Lean Body Mass and reducing body fat for women.
Progression is the secret ingredient for every successful training program. It's the reason your body changes over time. You can't do the exact same movements using the exact same weight for weeks and weeks and weeks and expect new results. You have to constantly push yourself. Once you develop a solid base, increase the weights, increase the reps, or decrease the rest periods.
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.
LINGUVIC: No. A resistance band is better than no band, and for some exercises it can be very effective, such as adductor and abductor work (your inner thighs), when you need to move your legs laterally. If you were on the road and all you had was a resistance band, that would be fine, but ideally you want to be able to increase the amount of weight you're using as you get stronger and there's no way to do that with one single band. If that's all you have, though, that's better than not using anything at all.
Unlike the exercises listed above, you don’t need water jugs or gym bags to complete these exercises. They can be completed with minimal equipment – usually all you need is a chair. If you want to make it harder, however, you can use jugs or bags. Try adding a couple of these exercises to your strength training routine, doing them three times a week.
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First, thank you SO MUCH for posting such amazing information! Second, I’m looking to start this 12 week beginner program and just wondering if the weight should be slightly increased between sets, or just week to week? I have previous lifting experience and we would up the weight in between each set, but haven’t lifted consistently in a few years so just curious what you recommend. Thank you!!
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Why: "The best way to maintain and improve bone density is through exercises that involve your entire lower body," says Perkins. "This move is considered a weight-bearing, compound, complex exercise, and is number one for bone health. In addition, the majority of age-related falls and bone fractures involve the pelvis. This move specifically targets and strengthens the muscles and bones of the pelvis." (Here are 4 more strength-training exercises you can do with a chair.)
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.
Strength training exercises apply stress to your muscles and your central nervous system.  In response to this stress, your body increases motor unit recruitment and efficiency.  In layman’s terms, this means that your body figures out how to make the task you just performed easier, just in case you have to perform it again in the future.  After a few weeks of increased neural efficiency, depending on the type of strength training you’re doing, your body responds to the strength training stress by tearing down muscle tissue and rebuilding it bigger and stronger than before.
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.
But women in particular are neglecting strength training at their own peril. It’s the only kind of exercise that makes muscles bigger, which lets them generate more strength and force, faster. “Muscle mass allows us to move,” Tucker says. Young people tend to take for granted the day-to-day parts of life that require strength, like walking up stairs or picking up a baby. “But a sedentary lifestyle means that people are gradually becoming weaker over time,” he says. Building muscle can fight back against that process.

Why: "One of the weakest movements for all women of all ages is pressing upward overhead," says Perkins. "Because of the reduced muscle mass at 50, this critical movement pattern is further handicapped. This move increases the lean muscle mass around your shoulders, reducing your risk for neck, shoulder, and lower back injuries when pressing something heavy overhead." (Try these 3 moves to sculpt strong shoulders.)
Overall, I'm really happy with my results. That being said, I will say that I didn't follow through with a few things that I think would have benefited from! First, I didn't count calories. I used to do this all the time, but I found, for me, counting calories, was not good for my mental health. I intuitively eat, but I would recommend others try to count calories as much as they can! It probably could have helped me see even more results if I did. Also, I didn't do the abs on the weekends and that was a bad idea. My whole body is getting more toned accept my stomach, which is mostly just annoying.
"I've always hated running. I was the kid who would get a doctor's note saying I had 'bad knees' to excuse me from running in gym class. But then I heard about the program C25K (Couch to 5K) that is geared specifically for non-runners. The program is eight weeks, and you can do it all without a gym. The first time I ran eight minutes without stopping, I sobbed for joy. Soon enough I was running a full 5K without a problem. That was huge for me! At that point I added TurboJam DVDs to my workout routine on days that I couldn't run outside. I also started tracking my nutrition using the My Fitness Pal app. It helped me realize I actually wasn't eating enough calories! I upped my calories and kept working out at home and I ended up losing 20 pounds. My clothes fit so much better now. The funniest part is that all the running has actually helped strengthen my bad knees." —Mandy Powell, Mendon, UT

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.
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The term “adrenaline” is commonly used to refer to the body’s excitatory catecholamines, Epinephrine (E) and Norepinephrine (NE), which are regulators of lipolysis (fat breakdown). NE and E acts on receptors called adrenergic receptors of which there are alpha (1 & 2) and beta (1, 2, & 3) subtypes. Activation of the alpha1 and beta-receptors is lipolytic (causes fat breakdown) while activation of the alpha2 receptor is anti-lipolytic (blunts fat breakdown). Stubborn fat areas have a high density of alpha2 receptors, making it harder for fat breakdown to occur in that area. If you are a women this means you have a large amount of alpha2 receptors in your thighs and glutes.
Muscle is denser than fat, meaning it takes up less space on your body. By losing fat and gaining muscle, you can stay the same weight – or even gain some – but actually be slimmer than you were before. Think of weight training as an investment that pays serious dividends down the road. The more muscle you have, the more calories (and fat) your body can burn over time.
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