Weight Training for women is really no different from any other weight training in principal, it is just that women generally prefer to start with a basic workout to build core strength and tone.
Many women are put off weight training because it has a very masculine image, and women fear that they will bulk up. However, unless supplements and steroids are taken, women will not bulk up when weight training. Weight training will help to reduce stomach fat, and tone the buttock and thigh muscles much more than just cardio exercise alone.
Weight training routines are generally broken down into repetitions (often shortened to reps) and sets. A set describes one exercise done repeatedly for a specific number of repetitions (or until muscular failure) and repetitions are simply the number of times the weight is lifted through its full movement.
The video below provides a great introduction to weight training. Here are the exercises that are covered:
- Squats – the basic leg, thigh and butt workout. Squats are the most important weight training exercise as they work the largest muscles of the body – the glutes. These are the muscles that form the buttocks.
- Bench press – works the chest and arms. Many women are concerned that bench pressing will develop a manly looking chest, however, this is not the case. If anything toning the muscles in the upper chest will give you more support and lift in the areas that matter!
- Upright rows – works the shoulders. A great exercise. Go slow and keep good form. These are best done with dumbbells really to prevent risk on wrist injury.
- Bent over rows – work the back more and the arms slightly. When performing a bent over row focus on lifting with the back muscles and not pulling with the bicep.
- Twist crunches – best way to hit the abs. Perform crunches with your feet up on a bench and twist into the crunch.
Weight Training Myths
Many women think that weight training is an exercise activity for men only. But this is simply not true. Weight training is not only a great way to get in shape, it also boosts metabolism to help lose weight. Also, being stronger makes everyday tasks easier for you, whether it is carrying a baby around on your hip, doing house work, shopping, DIY, working in an office or factory. Being stronger just makes things easier.
If you have been coming up with excuses to keep from starting an exercise program, or you are just wary of the idea of lifting heavy weights, here are some myths we’d like to debunk regarding weight training for women.
1. Lifting Weights Will Cause You to Bulk Up.
Men develop bulky muscles due to male hormones. Women will become more athletic, curvier, and look sexier, but will not bulk up.
2. It is Hard to Get Started in Strength Training.
Strength training is not hard to do, you can get light dumbbells to start with, which are easier to lift. It is important to lift weights with good form to avoid injuries. A few sessions with a personal trainer in the gym will set you straight. Free weights take up relatively little space and you can workout at home.
3. You are Too Old to Begin a Program.
We are never too old to start weight training. Many pensioners have succesfully taken up bodybuilding as a hobby in the past, so it is never too late. Studies have also shown that people that do some weight training live longer and healthier lives.
4. If you do Cardio, you do not have to Strength Train
Cardio builds your fitness levels, which is important. However, strength training boosts your metabolism and conditions your body to harder work, which reduces injury during any activity.
5. You are Lethargic and do not have the Energy to Lift Weights.
This is the biggest hurdle for many people. They think that they do not have the energy to lift weights. The truth is that lifting weights will actually give you more energy. Your body will learn to burn energy more efficiently and you will rarely feel sluggish and tired.
6. It is Intimidating to Lift Weights at a Public Gym Surrounded by Guys
This was the case about 20 years ago, but not any more. Gyms are family friendly places with both male and female assistants on hand to give some advice.
7. Strength Training is Not Feminine
This is the worse myth. All the sexiest models do some weight bearing exercise. Building healthy muscle is the best way to get attractive curves without piling on unhealthy fat. Athletic women are also found more desirable by a majority of men!
8. Lifting Weights Takes Too Much Time
Another myth of weight training. You can complete an effective workout in 20 minutes, and if using weights at home, then there is no time wasted travelling to and from the gym.
9. Weight Training is Too Expensive
Nonsense! A pair of dumbbells and a barbell from Argos will cost less than one month gym membership and last forever!
10. Weight Training is Not Fun.
And it will hurt! Hey, if you do not like crunches and lunges, then do not do them! There are plenty of other exercises either on machines, using resistance bands or kettlebells that will keep you more interested if you don’t like the idea of mat work. Forget the “No pain, no gain” slogan.
Core Four Workout – Compound Weight Training to Tone Bums, Tums and Thighs
Losing weight, toning muscles and getting fit all go hand in hand. There are many exercises that can be done to accomplish your goals, a plethora of sports clubs, fitness classes and gyms to join, but sometimes a simple home based weight training session can work wonders.
This is where the “core four” comes into play. All you need is some free weights – just a bar and a bench – although only the bench press is done on the bench.
The Core Four Workout:
“Core four” are the four key weight training exercises to kick start you into building a better, fitter and stronger you. The four core exercises are:
1. Squats – 3 sets of 10
2. Bench Press – 3 sets of 10
3. Bent-over row – 3 sets of 10
4. Barbell Curl – 3 sets of 10
Start with a light weight, or no weights on the bar (bars weight from 5kg to 10kg, 10lbs to 20bls), which is plenty if you have never done any weight training before.
There are many other weight training exercises that can be added to these four at later stages, but just performing these four exercises once or twice a week will tone your muscles and strengthen your core, helping to firm up your thighs and upper body. The main reason that these are the core four is that each of these is a compound exercise, meaning that it works more than one muscle at a time.
There are really 5 key elements to losing weight. If you can do something to tackle each of these 5 areas you will lose weight:
- Increase cardio exercise. More cardiovascular exercise is vital for healthy weight loss. So running, swimming, walking, cycling – they all help you to burn more energy and lose weight.
- Increase resistance exercise. Resistance training, or weight training, is vital for improving your strength. Stronger muscles allow your to workout to a higher intensity and therefore burn more energy. Also, more muscle mass increases your resting metabolic rate.
- Eat a really healthy diet. Diet is so important. The average person will throw away all their weight loss gains by binging a few times a week on junk food. You must learn to eat healthy every day.
- Sleep well. People who do not get enough sleep often fail to lose weight. Lack of sleep messes up your body clock which plays havoc with hormones and this affects weight loss.
- Be more active generally. It is all very well doing 3 or 4 exercise sessions a week, but we lose most calories by being generally more active. More walking and less reliance on private transport really helps you to burn more fat.
The Core Four forms a part of the MotleyHealth Fitness and Weight Loss Plan.
Basic Weight Training Techniques for Women
This video is provided by Getrealfit.org who provide workouts design to help women workout at home.
Step-by-Step Strength Training by Petra Kolber – Fitness DVD Review
Petra Kolbar’s Step by Step Strength Training DVD is a great way for you to learn how to perform strength training workouts as part of your exercise regime. This DVD also highlights that strength training is for women too.
The instructions are clear and Petra reminds you that you should focus on quality of exercise not quantity. This is often refereed to as keeping good form or technique. Not only quality of exercise give better results, but it also reduces injury and makes the exercises more enjoyable.
Strength training for women explains how strength training not only tones the body to give you healthy and athletic curves rather than fatty ones, but it also explains that strength training increases your metabolism so that you burn fat quicker.
The DVD provides 6 separate workouts which last from 5 minutes to 20 minutes. This ensures that no matter how hectic your life is, you can still fit in a workout. The workouts:
- Upper Body Workout (10 minutes)
- Lower Body Workout (10 minutes)
- Total Body Workout (20 minutes)
- Strength and Balance Training (20 minutes)
- Abdominal and stomach exercises (5 minutes)
Petra performs the workouts with 2 assistants, one of which performs modifications of the harder exercises which can help if you are very new to the exercises.
Exercises performed in the upper body workout include bicep curls, dumbbell rows, tricep kickbacks, diagonal raises, push ups and a variety of other exercises. The lower body workout includes all the main strength exercises, such as squats, lunges and calf raises. These produce strength and help tone thighs, buttocks and the core.
The 20 integrated workout combines upper and lower body for a full body workout. This is great if you want to give yourself a full workout, starting off very aerobic before moving on to some light weight dumbbell exercises.
The strength and balance workout is the most dynamic of the workouts and will provide a great fat burning workout that will tone bums, tums and thighs.
This DVD is called Strength Training but many of the exercises are quite aerobic, especially in the main 20 minute integrated workout. If you want a real strength training DVD that teaches you how to safely and effectively use heavy free weights and resistance machines to build strong, athletic muscle, then this DVD is not for you.
However, if you are looking for a refreshing new full body workout which also includes separate upper, lower, abs and balance workouts, so that you can split your routine across the week, then this DVD does provide that. You can increase the weight of your dumbbells to make this more of a strength workout.
All you need to follow the 65 minutes of these workouts is a chair and a pair of dumbbells. If you perform one of these workouts 3 or 4 times a week you will get fit and start to tone up and strengthen your body. A strong body is a healthy body and this is something that many women neglect. If you want to start strength training for the first time then this DVD is a great place to start.
Weight training resources
If you liked the look of this workout then there are many website that offer more advanced training, here are a few of our favourites:
- ExRx (Exercise Prescription) on the Net - search by exercise or by muscle, comes with videos and instructions. Plus a nice community.
- Strength Training for Women | Mark’s Daily Apple – if you have not looked at Mark’s Daily Apple before do so. Great blog, helpful advice, well explained.
- Female Training Articles – Bodybuilding.com – Don’t be put off by the name of the photos of incredibly muscular men and women. This is an excellent resource for all things related to weight training. The community can get a little opinionated at times, but then it is one of the largest communities on the Internet so attracts a lot of strange people!
- Take a look at this one first: Train Like A Man – Look Like A Goddess!