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.
Another limitation is that, in studies on untrained subjects, we can’t necessarily assume that their backgrounds are identical prior to the start of a study.  In other words, it’s possible that the “untrained” men in these studies had previously undertaken more activities outside the gym that required high levels of muscular exertion than the “untrained” women.  If that were the case, you’d expect women to have faster initial relative strength gains simply from catching up with the male baseline.
Strength training is a good idea for everybody. For the best results, try intermixing the strength training exercises with bodyweight exercises, and do them three times a week at most. More isn’t necessarily better when it comes to strength training – in fact, too much training can damage your strengthening process. If you also want to improve your cardiovascular health or lose weight, consider adding cardiovascular exercise, such as walking or running, which helps you burn fat.
Finally, strength training is essential for managing your body fat and maintaining a healthy body composition, and well… loving the way you look naked.  If weight loss is your goal, as you lose body fat, if you’re not strength training, it’s likely that your body will become a smaller, softer version of itself. While there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, in our experience working with women who want to “tone up” or “get in shape,” it’s a safe bet to say this is not the physical change you were expecting to see. However, if you strength train and add muscle as you reduce your body fat, your body becomes firmer and tighter, which is more along the lines of what many women envision when they embark on a weight loss journey. As we’ve said before, there is no wrong way to have a body. However, we want you to understand the physical effects that typically take place to help you ensure that all your effort leads you toward what you envision.

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).


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."
2) I think how often you go to failure should primarily depend on a) how frequently you train a muscle/exercise and b) how much fatigue/soreness an exercise causes. If you’re just doing an exercise/training a muscle once per week, you can probably go to failure a bunch and be just fine. If you’re training the same muscle again 48 hours later, it probably wouldn’t be a good idea to go to failure very often. If you’re doing an exercise that causes a lot of soreness and fatigue (like DLs), you probably shouldn’t go to failure very often. If you’re doing an exercise (like biceps curls) that doesn’t cause much soreness/fatigue, you can probably go to failure more often.
Thank you so much for explaining this in such a clear manner. I am also sick to death of most women’s negativity towards weight lifting created by their stupid beliefs which you have discussed here; The ingrained fear that lifting weights will make you bulky/manly! Lifting weights it the best thing I have ever done for my body and I could not be happier with the results I have achieved. The internet can be an excellent tool for research and source of information about training and nutrition. Sites such as yours are truly valuable and ones I turn to very often for guidance! So thanks again, it’s appreciated.
I’d be doing you a disservice if I didn’t mention my own workouts that are available here at Make Your Body Work. Every single workout will challenge your entire body and will include elements of cardio, strength, and core conditioning. The uniqueness of these workouts are the “difficulty levels” that provide up to 4 distinct options for every single move. This makes each workout very accessible for newbies, yet challenging for super-fit users.

Strangely, however, I couldn’t find a meta-analysis comparing strength gains and muscle growth in men and women.  I say “strangely” because there are meta-analyses covering damn near every facet of strength training under the sun.  Typically, once there are around a dozen studies on a given topic, someone’s going to do a meta-analysis. However, there have been 70+ studies comparing strength gains and muscle growth in men and women over the past 44 years, and no meta-analyses.
Keep pushing your butt back as you lift your right arm off the ground; thread it under your left armpit, reaching to the left as far as possible. Pause and feel the stretch, then, continuing to push your butt back and keep your left hand on the ground, reach your right hand toward the ceiling. Pause, then return your right hand to the start position. Repeat on the other side. That’s 1 rep.
Start standing, holding light-to-medium-weight dumbbells at your shoulders, chest up, core braced. Step your right foot back, then bend at both knees, lowering your torso until your left thigh is parallel to the ground. Press back up to standing, then press the dumbbells straight overhead. Lower them back to your shoulders and do a lunge rep with your left leg. Alternate legs on every rep until time’s up. Do 3 sets.
How her body has reacted: Once I started lifting, I got a lot of feedback from friends saying I’d lost weight. Funny thing is, I didn’t really lose any pounds, I was just looking leaner and fitter. Now that I’ve been lifting regularly for several years, my energy is better and I feel stronger. I’m positive that my physical fitness helped me have a faster and (somewhat) easier delivery of my son in 2016. I continued to lift responsibly through my pregnancy, which helped me quickly get back into pre-pregnancy shape later. Overall, I feel better and look better thanks to this lifestyle change.

If you're one of those busy folks who thinks you simply don't have time to exercise, let this DVD prove you wrong. You'll get two 30-minute cardio-strength workouts: The first is a boxing workout, and the second is focused on strength training with weights. Meant to be quick, effective, and empowering, these routines will be over before you know it!
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!

If you're looking to get as toned as 49-year-old Jennifer Aniston, here's the workout you've been searching for. Yogalosophy was created by the celebrity's long-standing yoga instructor, Mandy Ingber, "This workout will change your body and your mind," Aniston says on the DVD cover, as it combines resistance training and traditional yoga to build muscle and burn fat.


During weeks 1-4, you will be lifting in the 8-12 rep range. What this means is that you want to complete at least 8 reps but no more than 12 reps for each set. If you cannot complete 8 reps, then the weight is too heavy and you should decrease the load. If you can complete more than 12 reps, then the weight is too light and you should increase the load.
The difference between strength training for women and weight training for women is mostly semantics. Some people might even refer to it as “weight lifting for women.”. However, “strength training” may sound less intimidating to someone who has never lifted weights before, and it can be a relief to know that you can strength train (especially in the beginning) using just your body weight. 
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.
Thank you for this article, it was great to read one that explained so well the myths surrounding women lifting like men. I’ve been lifting heavy for a few years now and the only time I felt that I was bigger than I would’ve liked was when I had a layer of fat covering my muscle! (often women seem to mistake this for lots of muscle bulk) Once that was lost though, with a small deficit and while continuing to lift, I loved the results! Muscle tone, looking strong, looking healthy. I wish more women would realise the benefits – next time I have a female friend complain about how they’re not getting “toned”, I’ll be sending them a link to this! 😀
Leslie of Fightmaster Yoga teaches hatha yoga for beginners, yoga for energy, yoga for reducing stress, meditation yoga, yoga workouts for strength, yoga for office workers…in other words, she offers a BIG selection of yoga classes! She is a knowledgeable instructor and is an excellent communicator, which makes her classes especially easy for beginners to follow.

Also note, testosterone isn’t the only relevant sex difference here.  There are sex differences in gene expression, sex differences in other anabolic hormones like IGF-1 (which may play a bigger role in women than men), and, obviously, sex differences in estrogen (which, contrary to popular belief, exerts anabolic effects in muscle tissue).  Testosterone is only one piece of a much larger picture that only gets more confusing and convoluted the more you look at it.  At the end of the day, it’s best to just remember the messiness of physiology and understand that outcomes (similar relative muscle growth and strength gains, supported by heaps of research) trump mechanisms (differences in testosterone levels) every time.

While seasoned lifters may choose to do different exercises every day during a week-long period (and repeat the same moves the following week), there's no need to follow this type of program when you're just getting comfortable, says Davis. "Stick to the same basic moves two to three times a week to build a basic level of fitness and strength," says Davis. "Why complicate things if you don’t have to? Great results can be made by repeating the same workout but increasing weights as you become stronger." Switching things up can help you avoid a training plateau, explains Davis, but so can increasing weights while doing the same exercises.
Why she switched: I decided to truly switch my focus after the summer of 2016 due to a hip injury while training for a marathon. I could perform most lifts without pain, yet couldn’t run a mile. This is when I saw a shift in my body, energy and success lifting. I entered my first powerlifting competition the winter of 2016. After the second time I competed, I ran a personal-record half-marathon the next weekend.
As we said before, women need to lift heavy, challenging weights in order to gain muscle. Lifting heavy weights will not cause women to get big and bulky like men because women produce a fraction of the testosterone that men do. When women begin working out, their goals are to tone up and gain shape/curves and following this program will accomplish just that! In this 12-week program, you will decrease the number of reps you complete and increase the load you lift as you progress. The number of sets per exercise stays the same, but the rep range changes.
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 3 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.

Perform one circuit training session each week. My circuit training program combines dumbbell weights with rapid movement between each exercise. Use my circuit program and modify it if you need to, by slowing it down, so that you can complete at least three circuits. This is designed to get you working somewhat hard, so give it your best shot. You will breathe heavier and you should break a sweat.
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 have a few amazing clients I’m working with right now who would describe themselves as life long worriers, or pessimists. In the past that has served them well, enabling them to keep safe, steer clear of risks and even develop strategies in the event of disasters. However, now they find it’s becoming hard to break the cycle and they really want to because it’s holding them back.
A proper warm-up is an important part of an effective strength workout. Start by foam rolling your muscles to wake 'em up. "Foam rolling loosens up tight muscles so that they work the way they're designed to," says Davis. A dynamic warm-up is another important part of your pre-workout routine, it preps your muscles for the work they're about to do and helps increase your range of motion. Increasing your range of motion allows you to go deeper into those squats and fully extend those bicep curls, which means more muscle recruitment and better results. "These two combined reduce your risk of injury and allow you to push harder during your workout," says Davis. Get started with this five-minute warm-up.

I have a few amazing clients I’m working with right now who would describe themselves as life long worriers, or pessimists. In the past that has served them well, enabling them to keep safe, steer clear of risks and even develop strategies in the event of disasters. However, now they find it’s becoming hard to break the cycle and they really want to because it’s holding them back.


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.
It’s no secret that Beyoncé is a crazy-good performer, and while we could never mimic her vocals, with some coaching, we thought we could pick up her dance moves. That’s why we were so excited to discover this video series featuring choreographer Frank Gatson, Jr., who breaks down every portion of Beyoncé’s Let’s Move! campaign, which features a remix of “Get Me Bodied.” Watch the first instructional portion and then the second one to learn the entire routine.
While many people advocate eating a low-carb diet for weight loss, it's not always ideal. Weight loss may come easily at first, but chronically low amounts of carbohydrates could have negative downstream effects in the long run. A woman's delicately balanced hormone system can be disrupted by low carb availability, which could bring about unwanted side effects like loss of bone density and chronic sleep deprivation. On a low-carb diet, some women may experience stopped or irregular periods because the body perceives chronically low energy levels as starvation and stress.
Because “every Heart and Soul deserves to be fit,” HASfit has pledged to provide all of its programming at zero cost. This doesn’t seem like that big of a big deal, until you realize that the company is providing not only over 1,000 full length workout routines via YouTube, but also 30-90 day fitness and meal plans. Even better, these schedules accommodate a wide range of activity levels and dietary restrictions. While the full programs are only available on the HASfit website, all of the separate routines can be found on the company’s channel as well as an estimated calorie burn for each. For a beginner’s workout, check out the video linked above; to really get your heart rate up, try one of the longer Tabata HIIT practices.

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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