Resistance training for women
Specify your training aims
Unlike men who are usually seeking maximum muscle growth (at least those reading our website) female gym-goers tend to have more varied training aims.
You can obviously seek to achieve a very muscular body – after all, female bodybuilding is here for some 40 years and thriving. But the fact is that majority of women try to lose weight and get as close to the perceived ideal body of 90-60-90 supermodels.
Women are also more likely then men to engage in resistance training for health reasons, to achieve functional strength and just ''to be fit''.
Whatever your training aim, you must realize that it requires a specific workout, diet and supplementation.
You need to deploy a totally different strategy to lose weight and to build muscle mass, to achieve functional strength or to excel in specific strength exercises.
Identify your potential
You should be realistic in your expectations. This means that you should not overestimate the possible effects of resistance exercise and also not underestimate your own potential to lose weight and gain strength.
If you aim for a very muscular body of top female bodybuilders, well, you may just not be able to achieve it without anabolic steroids. On the other hand, women are more often afraid of training with free weights as they believe such type of training will make them look like muscular men. You must know that testosterone levels are crucial for building muscle mass and you have simply way less testosterone than men.
Resistance exercise properly combined with cardio can help you lose weight and tone your muscles whatever your starting position.
Don't be afraid of heavy weights
It's a pity that so many women spend their time in the gym almost in vain. Lifting 5-pound dumbbells amounts to little more than nothing. To achieve any effect, your exercise must lead to exhaustion of the trained muscle.
Depending on your training aims you can do a few repetitions with a heavy weight or many repetitions with small weight or anything in between. You can use short or long breaks between the sets – but each set should lead to some sort of muscle exhaustion or close to it.
Women usually don't have problem doing exercises with their own body weight (like chin-ups) to exhaustion. So if you are working with, say, 100 pounds by chin-ups, why should you use 10 pounds when working with dumbbells?
Avoid low-caloric diets
After being bombarded with daily articles on weight loss and dieting in mainstream media, women tend to mistake the “proper diet” with “low-caloric diet”.
When you engage in serious sports activities you have to fuel your body properly. Even if you aim for losing weight you must consider your nutritional needs realistically. Using a caloric calculator is a very good way to assess the real daily caloric needs.
Select the correct exercises
Women instinctively tend to choose more body-core exercises for their workout. They usually do it to achieve flat stomach and great waist area. By training abdominals, butt, lower back and some internal muscles of the body core area you strengthen the most important parts of your body (which men often fail to do).
On the other hand, women are often shy of most beneficial composite exercises, spending their time in the gym instead doing sleek isolated movements (for some reasons, triceps pulldowns are particularly popular).
In fact, there is no reason in the world why a woman shouldn't do, say, narrow-grip bench press instead of machine press and pulldowns.
Composite exercises involving large muscle groups (e.g. squats) are much more effective for losing weight than isolated ones (think crunches).
Exercising with free weights involves many stabilizing muscles and helps to develop functional strength.
Health benefits of resistance training
Resistance training is known to greatly improve bone mineral density (BMD). No diet and no supplementation will make your bones so strong as lifting weights. Increased BMD gained by training will more then offset the hormonal processes causing osteoporosis in postmenopausal women.
Lifting free weights lowers “bad” cholesterol, improves heart function, strengthens joints and ligaments.
More muscle mass protects your spinal cord from injuries and various back complications.
Anaerobic exercise is often underestimated for its ability to lower the blood pressure and help fat loss – many people see aerobic exercise as healthy and anaerobic exercise as dangerous.
This is completely wrong. There is no scientific study showing any detrimental effects of anaerobic resistance training on human health. On the contrary: it offers many benefits over aerobic training and it's safe for every age-group.