How Strength Training for Women Should Look Like
Today, many women engage in strength training and there are more and more fitness models and women in love with working out and staying lean. However, many women still don’t strength train properly and think that 2lb dumbbells will help them achieve their goal, while they are afraid of bulking up if they pick up some heavier weights.
What they don’t realize is that lifting heavy weights will not make them big, but will actually speed up the fat loss process and result in muscle gain. Women don’t have the predisposition to bulk up unless they are taking some serious supplements to help them out.
Training at the right intensity is crucial to get the body you want. As everyone’s strength level is different, your strength training should be adjusted to your abilities, but you should always challenge yourself and not let it be easy. Nothing worth having comes easily, right?
On the other hand, you shouldn’t over train either. Create the right balance and make it difficult enough to make you sweat, but not so difficult that makes your entire body hurt. Also, you should do at least two strength training sessions per week, but not more than 5. Your body needs time to recover, and your muscles to replenish.
Breathing is one of the most important parts when it comes to training. You shouldn’t hold your breath during an exercise, but breathe throughout the set – breathe in when you begin to lift and breathe out during the release.
You should do 8-12 repetitions in every set, and adjust your weights according to the repetitions. If you can’t do 8 repetitions, you should use lighter weights, while if doing more than 12 is a breeze, you should definitely lift heavier.
If you want to do strength training in order to lose excess body fat and gain lean muscle, or just define your existing muscles, you should split your workouts into upper and lower body exercises, and not do the two groups the same day.
This way, your muscles will be frequently engaged but they will have enough time to rest as well.
Moreover, you should first do the most difficult exercises, as at the beginning of your workout your strength is at its highest. Don’t wait until you’re already tired to start doing what requires the most energy.
Here are some examples of strength exercises for women (for the upper body):
1. Side shoulder raise – Begin with your arms in front of your thighs with palms facing one another. Then with slightly bent elbows raise both arms with dumbbells to shoulder height (as if you were flying), and return to the start position. This will strengthen your outer shoulder muscles.
2. Front shoulder raise – Begin with your arms in front of your thighs with your palms facing forward. Raise one arm in front of you to shoulder height, and return it to the start position. Then do the same with the other arm.
3. Biceps curl – You should start with your arms on the sides and palms turned away from your body. With your elbows close to your body, curl dumbbells upward to the shoulders and return to the start position.
4. One-arm dumbbell triceps curl – Put your feet 16 inches apart. You will do 8-12 repetitions with one arm and then move on to the other one. Hold the dumbbell in your arm and raise it up keeping your elbow near your head. Lower the dumbbell behind your head until your forearm touches your biceps. Return to the start position and complete the number of your planned repetitions and then do the same thing with the other hand.
When it comes to the lower body, the best exercises are squats, lunges, jumping jacks, and a couple more. You can do those exercises with dumbbells held beside your body or with a straight rod with some weights attached.