Strength training, for many years, was seen as something better suited for men. Fortunately, in the last few decades, more and more women have broken that stigma and begun proving how strong and powerful ladies can be by simply practicing strength training for women.
Unfortunately, there simply isn’t as much information about weight training for women available. While a lot of things, like diet and practice, are actually quite similar for ladies as they are for men, female weightlifters should be aware of how they can follow this practice.
That’s why we’ve penned this article on weight lifting for female beginners. If you follow the information in this guide then you’ll soon be able to tackle weight lifting with no problem.
Benefits of strength training for women
- Gain Strength Without Bulking
- Lose Body Fat
- Burn More Calories
- Reduce Risk of Injury
- Decrease Risk of Osteoporosis
- Improve Posture and Reduce Back Pain
- Enhance Mood and Reduce Stress and Anxiety
Myths about weight training for women
- Myth 1: You will look too bulky
- Myth 2: You need to lift very heavy weights
- Myth 3: You are too old to start weight lifting
The best strength training exercises for female weightlifters
- Lower Body
- Upper Body
- Core Exercises
- Why the intensity of training is very important
- Why you should strength train with the proper splits
- Sample weight training plan for women
Strength training has a number of benefits for both men and women.
Despite the fact that men typically produce more testosterone than women, and the fact that testosterone is very important for the growth and production of muscle tissue, there’s no doubt that women can train themselves to bulk up very nicely.
And bulking up doesn’t just provide strength and an awesome, powerful physique. If you start weight training, there are a ton of benefits that you will experience aside from this.
Gain Strength Without Bulking
Strength training is not always the same as bulking, and you can actually train for strength without really needing to bulk up. If you follow the proper exercises and procedures, however, it’s definitely possible for you to gain strength without necessarily putting on a ton of extra muscle.
That said, if you really want to take it to the next level with your strength training, you will probably want to take the time to develop a diet and lifestyle plan that will allow you to pack on the extra pounds of muscle.
Lose Body Fat
One of the best things about building muscle is that you’ll also begin to burn more calories. However, if you’re truly hoping to bulk up, then you’re going to need to increase your calorie count – meaning that you might end up putting on some fat initially.
However, those who are exclusively interested in strength training for women who aren’t looking to put on extra muscle will end up burning more calories without necessarily consuming more. This is how you lose fat.
Burn More Calories
Weight training for women will help you burn more calories, as mentioned above.
Weight training won’t burn as many calories as, say, aerobic exercise. However, cardio exercise also won’t cause you to gain as much strength as you would when doing weight training. Either way, you’re going to be burning more calories.
Reduce Risk of Injury
Having more muscle is a great way to lower the risk of having an injury.
You’ll be better able to carry things, for example, and you’ll be less likely to pull a muscle by moving at a strange angle while carrying weight. You’ll also improve your balance with certain weight training exercises, and this can be very useful for helping to reduce the chances of injury.
Decrease Risk of Osteoporosis
Weight training for women can actually reduce the chances of developing osteoporosis, a condition in which the density of a person’s bones decreases overtime. Strength training has also been shown to improve the quality of life in patients who already struggle with osteoporosis.
Improve Posture and Reduce Back Pain
If you’re going to start weight training for women, it’s important that you make sure that you’re doing it properly. Ask an experienced trainer about the proper posture for weight training.
Doing this will encourage good posture and will make you less likely to experience the back and shoulder pain related to bad posture. Doing it improperly, however, can actually increase the risk of these problems.
Enhance Mood and Reduce Stress and Anxiety
Exercise is one of the best ways to manage your mental health. One of the earliest things to prove the holistic mind-body connection, exercise has been linked to lowering symptoms of depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders for many years.
Furthermore, weight training for women will improve self-esteem and self-confidence, two things which can be hard to improve upon. Improving self-confidence and self-image leads to a number of improvements in a person’s life.
There’s a lot of misinformation about weight training for women that can be confusing and disorienting for someone approaching weight lifting.
Myth 1: You will look too bulky
If you’re hoping to gain muscle, then this hopefully won’t be an issue.
However, it gets even better: Weight lifting for women doesn’t always mean that you bulk up that much at all unless you’re trying to. Strength training for women is more about strengthening the muscles that you already have and making sure that you can maximize their efficiency.
Myth 2: You need to lift very heavy weights
A lot of people think that you need to lift incredibly heavy weights, but this isn’t true if you’re just hoping to gain strength. It’s important to use the proper intensity – for some people this can be very heavy, but not everyone gets to this level, and especially not if you’re just hoping to boost your strength.
The real important thing here is that you lift weights until you’re maxed out and can’t lift anymore. During weight lifting, for female beginners, obviously you’ll be lifting less weight than someone who’s been doing this for years. Don’t set your expectations too high.
Again, the important thing here is intensity, not weight. You should be doing sets of about 8-12, maxing out somewhere between these reps. If you want to train with even higher intensity, choose a weight that causes you to max out after around 5 or 6 reps.
Myth 3: You are too old to start weight lifting
You’re never too old to start weight lifting! Unless you suffer from a physical disability that makes it difficult or dangerous to weight lift, then you’re still good to go.
It’s important to remember that you should start training with an appropriate weight. If you’re older or generally don’t feel very strong, don’t start doing 30 lb dumbbell curls – this is a good way to hurt yourself.
There are lots of different exercises that you can do when you start your regimen of weight training for women. A lot of these exercises can be done at home without much equipment, and they’re all highly effective at boosting strength. Remember to stretch before working out!
- Barbell squats. Barbell squats are a great way to train the muscles in your lower body. Simply grab a barbell, hold it in front of your chest, and do squats as you normally would. The added weight will add intensity to the workout.
- Dumbbell lunge. Dumbbell lunges are a great way to work out your leg muscles. Grab a dumbbell in each hand and step forward into a lunging position. Make sure that you are putting effort into balancing so you don’t fall.
- Good morning. The good morning is a simple exercise to work out the back of your upper legs. Put a bar on a rack at shoulder height, put it above the back of your shoulders as if you were doing a power squat. Step back a bit, bend at the hips, and move them back while keeping your hips arched. Reverse the movement and repeat.
- Push-ups. Push-ups are simple, and you probably already know how to do them. Make sure you keep your back straight!
- Handstand pushups. If you can get yourself into a handstand position up against a wall, follow a standard push up procedure. The added weight of your entire body make this an intense exercise.
- Pull-ups and chin-ups. Pull-ups (overhand grip) and chin-ups (underhand grip) are among the best ways to boost strength in your pecs and in your arms. Chin-up bars can be bought easily and stuck in any doorway in your home.
- Planking. Holding a plank position – basically a push-up with no motion – is great for building up core strength.
- Sit-ups and crunches with weight. We all know how to do sit-ups and crunches, but if you do them while holding a barbell plate you’ll find them much more intense.
- Ab rollers. If you have an ab-roller, just kneel on the floor and grip it in either hand. Putting it in front of you, roll it forward until your body is stretched out straight – try to avoid touching the floor. Pause here, then return yourself to your original position as you breathe out.
Female weightlifters hoping to improve their strength should focus more on intensity than actually lifting huge amounts of weight. Some people are simply naturally wired to lift higher amounts of weight, and if you’re focused solely on the number of pounds that you’re lifting then you might set yourself up for disappointment.
As mentioned above, the best thing that you can do is focus on intensity. Find a weight that allows you to perform somewhere between 6-12 reps before you’re exhausted and can’t lift anymore. This is the most effective way to actually improve your strength.
To increase your results, you can also push yourself beyond the point of exhaustion by using some support to get an extra couple reps. If you’re using a barbell, for example, you can have someone apply a little bit of support by gently helping lift the weight while you perform an extra rep.
If you’re doing dumbbell curls, you can give yourself a bit of extra support with the opposite arm.
Doing this will push your muscles past their capacity, tearing more tissue and necessitating that your body repairs the muscle even more, making it stronger.
It’s very important to strength train with the proper slips.
Total body workouts (which aren’t technically a split) and lower/upper body splits make a big difference in the results that you’ll get. It’s often recommended to train the upper body one day and then train the lower body during your next workout.
This will allow the muscles in the first split to recover properly while you exercise the other group. You’ll be more effective at training and you’ll see results quicker.
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There are lots of different ways that you can start training for strength. Here are some simple examples:
Full-body workout (very intense)
- Barbell deadlifts, 4 sets of 6 reps each with a minute of rest between sets
- Dumbbell bench presses, 4 sets of 6 reps each with a minute of rest in between
- One-armed dumbbell rows, 4 sets of 6 reps with a minute’s rest
A less intense version of the above workout can be done with 3 sets of 12 reps each, instead.
A good example of an upper-lower split:
- Day 1:
Barbell squats, barbell deadlifts, and split squats, 4 sets of 6 reps each
Planking, 3 sets of 30 second planks
- Day 2:
Pushpus, 3 sets of 10 reps (if you can do more than 10, consider adding weight)
Seated cable rows, 3 sets of 12 reps each
Dumbbell shoulder presses, 3 sets of 8 reps
Chinups, 3 sets of 10 reps (consider adding weight)
If you’re hoping to build strength, you’re in for an exciting adventure. Following the guidelines in this article should provide you with enough information to get started on a strength-building journey.
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