The Ultimate Guide to Women’s Strength Training
According to the National Center of Health Statistics, only 17% of women engage in strength training two or more times per week.
This means that the majority of women in the United States are not embarking on extremely beneficial routines that will help them lose weight, increase muscle definition and feel more healthy.
Why should women invest the proper amount of time into strength training?
According to the Mayo Clinic, an organization dedicated to the truth in health and medicine, a proper strength training regimen will help you:
- Create strong bones. Strength training stresses your bones in a way that increases their density and reduces the risk of osteoporosis.
- Control body weight. Muscle increases the total amount of calories your body burns, even when at rest. This means strength training will help you easily control your weight.
- Increase stamina. Strength training will help you stave off fatigue and also increase your balance.
- Increase focus. Some research has suggested that strength training can help improve attention among older adults.
- Manage certain health conditions. Proper strength training can help manage the symptoms of some chronic issues, such as relieving back pain and heart disease.
Before discussing the practical ways women can increase their strength, it is first worth dispelling some damaging myths that have held women’s fitness back for years.
Strength Training Myths Every Woman Should Forget
These myths are not only entirely incorrect, but they are damaging. They encourage the wrong type of workouts and cause women everywhere to waste their time.
Myth #1: Don’t Lift Heavy Weights or You’ll Get Bulky
Many women interested in strength training quickly encounter this myth and it disrupts an otherwise effective workout routine. They may see a marketing gimmick or catch a glimpse of a female bodybuilder and become afraid that will happen to them.
Women are led to believe that they should pick up a light weight for a high amount of repetitions. This does not build tight, dense and strong muscle. It increases muscle endurance, that’s it!
Instead, women should pick up increasingly heavy things. This will truly create stronger muscles, not bulky muscles. Women that appear bulky have undergone a specific training and supplemental regimen to look that way. An average woman hitting the weights will end up with dense and powerful muscles.
Myth #2: One Plan Will Work for Every Woman
A woman wanting to lose weight or increase strength doesn’t have to look far to find a program that promises it will work for every woman. The truth is everybody, men and women alike, are entirely unique. Genetic differentiation will give everyone different challenges and make bodies react different to the same stimuli. The same foods will have a different effect for each woman, as will the same workouts.
The best way to find your ideal workout regimen is simply to try them each and track your results. It may take some trial and error until you discover the best workout program for you, but rest assured, you will find it.
Myth #3: Older Women Should Avoid Strength Training
After menopause, many women tend to avoid strength training as the potential for osteoporosis increases. In fact, studies have shown that this is the perfect time to begin or continue a strength training regimen. The study found that postmenopausal women were able to preserve their bone density while increasing their strength and muscle mass.
Now that these myths are dispelled, every woman can start to embark on an accurate strength training regimen.
What Should Women Eat for Strength Training?
As with Myth #2, the ideal diet will vary from woman to woman. Some women have found great success with a Paleo diet (which is essentially no carbs, lean meats and organic fruits and vegetable). Other women have found an ideal diet consists of 40% protein, 40% carbs and 10% fat.
To simplify the entire process of a proper diet, eat plenty of lean meats that are free of antibiotics, organic fruits and vegetables and only whole wheat. Make sure to stay well hydrated at all times. Unless you plan on becoming a fitness model, you don’t need to worry too much about calorie counting or relentlessly pursuing the perfect diet. Just eat healthy and be active!
Keep it simple and easy to stick with. If your diet is too difficult and you can’t maintain it, it will be ineffective.
Dietary Supplement Information
While not being absolutely crucial to anyone’s health and fitness success, dietary supplements do offer many advantages to users who consumer them properly. Proper consumption includes treating supplements just as they are called: to supplement their diets and not in place of actual nutrition.
There are many supplements out there that would help in strength training but here’s our highest recommendations for the type of supplements to take while strength training:
Whey Protein Powder:
More Info: Best Overall Protein Powders
More Info: Best Creatine Supplements
More Info: Best Multivitamins for Women
More Info: Best Pre Workout Supplements
Which Training Option is Best for You?
There are many different types of strength training. See which of these options will be the best for you. You may find out that mixing and matching different methods will be ideal:
These machines can be found easily at every gym and offer resistance training. You can also invest in your own weight machine for your home gym. They help to impart muscle control and target specific muscles. However, they do not work out stabilizing muscles due to the nature of the machine.
Free weight training
Some argue that these are the most effective tools for strength training. Barbells and dumbbells can easily be added to your home gym or found at your neighborhood gym. There are almost an unlimited amount of exercises you can do with this equipment.
Body weight training
Pushups, pull-ups and leg squats are all examples of workouts that use your own body weight as resistance. The benefit of many of these types of workouts is that they can be done anywhere.
These tubes are quite inexpensive and can be found in most sporting goods stores. They’re easy to transport and also provide for a wide range of workout options.
Time to Get Started!
It’s always wise to consult a physician before beginning any workout program. This will ensure that your body is healthy enough begin your desired workout regimen.
Once you’ve been cleared by a doctor, you’re ready to get started!
Free weight and compound exercises are often considered to be the most effective ways to increase overall strength for men and women. Below are some free weight exercises that develop strong, dense muscle. With each of these exercises, aim to do 10-12 per rep. As you improve over time, you can increase the weights to increase your results. Remember, you won’t get bulky!
This full body exercise stimulates almost every muscle in the body. Deadlifts are able to stimulate the obliques, traps, abs, back, legs and so on. Consider this exercise a requirement for building a fully developed body.
How to perform Deadlifts:
For those looking for toned legs, look no further than squats. Squats are perhaps the most efficient way to build powerful legs. The hamstrings, glutes, quadriceps and calves are all worked out by doing squats.
How to perform Squats:
While they can be done without weights, holding some weights at your site while doing lunges will help further strengthen your quadriceps and hamstrings.
How to perform Lunges:
Each of these exercises can be done at a gym or in your own home with minimal equipment
Squats and lunges can be done without external weights and solely with your body weight. However, there are other effective types of strength training that use the weight of your body.
Targeting the upper body, including the back, biceps and forearms, pull ups are incredible effective body weight exercises. Pull up bars can be purchased that use your door frame and offer different grip positions. Explore with overhand and underhand grips, as well as different widths. Each type of grip will target different muscles.
How to perform proper Pull Ups:
Dips help develop chest, shoulders and triceps. They are a fantastic upper body workout. Most gyms will have a dip machine and many will have assisted dip machines as well. You can also use two chairs to create an at home dip machine, but make sure that the chairs are stable!
How to perform proper Dips:
Yoga and Pilates
Both of these comprehensive fitness systems solely use your body weight to create muscle. While they won’t create the results one will experience with heavy weight deadlifts, they will increase balance and help generate flexible muscles and a strong core.
Weight Machine and Resistance Tubing
There are dozens of different types of weight machines, each of which will have their own instructions. It is worth noting that many serious strength trainers do not suggest the use of machines except for complete beginners. You may wish to target certain muscles with a machine, but quickly look to move to free weights or body weight exercises.
An effective way to build strength. If you choose to purchase resistance bands, they will certainly come with suggested workouts. They are often used as a replacement for free weights and once you learn how to use them can be used in place of weights for many types of exercises.
Now You’re Ready to Increase Your Strength! Go out there and DO IT!
Now that damaging myths have been dispelled and different methods of strength training have been imparted, you’re ready to get started. Regardless of which method you choose to pursue, consistency is the key. Find something you enjoy and can maintain to ensure that that you yield the results you are after.