Weight training for women can conjure up images of females in athletic poses flexing bulging, rippling muscles.
It is indeed possible to achieve that look if you desire it. However, weight training can also be used to tone and sculpt your muscles and reduce your level of body fat.
The extent to which you develop your muscles is up to you. So if pounding the pavement isn’t bringing the results you want, swapping to a good weight training program for women could be just what you need to get that lean definition many of us aspire to.
Read on for information on weight training for women, including how to get started. We will also look at the results you can achieve from undertaking it, the role diet plays, and more.
What results can I expect and how quickly?
Women who train with weights twice a week can reduce their body fat by 3 percent, in just ten weeks. For some women, that can equate to a dramatic 3-inch reduction of their waist and hip areas, combined.
Even more impressive is that this is achievable without reducing food intake. Just imagine how many inches you could lose if you cut calories too! Even without cutting calories, the lean muscle mass gained through weight training will increase your metabolic rate. As a result, you will burn more calories without trying.
Weight Training for Women – Getting Started
Though men and women are anatomically different, weight training for women is pretty much the same as weight training for men, insofar as we need to take things easy when starting out. It’s perfectly fine and even advisable to start with three weight training sessions per week. However, it’s important not to use weights that are beyond your strength and fitness level.
Using weights that are too heavy could lead to an injury that will keep you out of action. It could also cause you to feel weight training is too much for you. When this happens, people tend to give up before giving it a fair go.
If your aim is to tone and whittle fat from specific areas, concentrate on this, but don’t overdo it. A safe starting point for most people is two or three sets comprising 10 to 12 reps of each exercise. The weight you use should be heavy enough that when you get to the last rep of the set, you could not do another one and still maintain good form.
When you are stronger, alternate the intensity of your workouts to speed up your results. Try doing 8 to 10 reps with a light weight, 12 to 15 with a medium weight and 3 to 5 reps with a heavy weight.
If your primary aim is weight loss, work all of your muscle groups, in turn. Focus on moves that target more than one muscle group at a time. A good example of this is squats or lunges, both of which will work the muscles of the back, front and inner thigh in the one move. Doing squats or lunges while holding weights will burn additional calories and increase muscle definition.
For more exercise ideas check out Google or YouTube, or get this handy laminated exercise wall poster which is available on Amazon.
25-minute total body weight training for women workout
Weight Training for Women and Diet
When undertaking a weight training program for women, or men for that matter, the importance of consuming the right foods cannot be stressed enough.
Adequate protein is vital for building and maintaining muscle. Aim for around 25% of your calories to come from protein. Any less and you will be burning lean muscle, rather than fat.
The recommended protein intake for building muscle is one gram for every pound of body weight that is not fat. This means that a woman who weighs 140 pounds and has a body fat percentage of 25, should take in 105 grams of protein. This is the equivalent of around four servings of lean, healthy protein each day. Healthy sources of protein include fish, chicken, turkey, soy products, cottage cheese, yogurt, and eggs.
Forty to fifty percent of calories should come from carbohydrates. Healthy carbs include brown rice, quinoa, oatmeal, whole grain bread and fresh fruit and vegetables.
The remainder of your diet should consist of healthy, unsaturated fats. Good sources include avocado, ground flax seeds, olive or safflower oil, mackerel, salmon, natural peanut butter, and almonds.
Ideally, while weight training, eat several small protein based snacks/meals per day, rather than three larger meals. This will help keep hunger at bay. It will also provide your muscles with the nutrition they need as they grow and develop. Include a carbohydrate component with each meal, as well as a small amount of fat.
Splitting meals also works well. Try eating half of your meal before exercising, and the other half after. Eating this way, you will be giving your muscles protein to use during your workout, and more protein to use afterward when your muscles are recovering and growing.
Weight Training for Women and Weight Loss
Jogging and most other cardio workouts burn more calories during the workout than weight training. However, research has shown that women who weight train for one hour will burn an additional 100 calories in the twenty-four hours following their workout. If you train at this level three times a week, you will lose approximately four and a half pounds of fat over the course of a year.
As you become stronger and progress to lifting heavier weights, you will burn even more calories, both during and after your exercise sessions. A recent study showed that women who performed 8 reps using a weight that was 85% of their maximum load, burned twice the amount of calories in the two hours following their workout as they did when doing 15 reps using a weight that was 45% of their maximum load.
Approximately one-third of a woman’s weight consists of muscle. Unlike fat, muscles are metabolically active. This means that the more muscle we have, the more calories we burn. Turn twenty pounds of fat into twenty pounds of muscle, and you will burn an extra 50 to 100 calories per day, without reducing your food intake or doing any additional exercise.
Burning an extra 50 to 100 calories a day might not sound like much when we need to burn 3,500 calories to lose one pound of body fat, but it will add up to five to ten pounds over the course of a year. Still doesn’t sound like much? Maybe not, but given a choice, this time next year would you rather weigh five to ten pounds more or five to ten pounds less than you do today?
Weight Training for Women and Fat Reduction
Most women know all too well what it’s like to diet and exercise for weeks or months to reduce saddlebags or belly fat, only to find these areas look the same as they did before we started, while our faces may appear gaunt and our bras swim on us. It isn’t possible to reduce fat from specific areas. However, when combined with the right diet, an effective weight training program for women gives us the means of toning and cutting inches from our trouble spots.
If the backs of your arms are flabby, concentrate on exercises that tone your triceps. To tone and reduce your back bra strap area, work your lats. If you want to firm and reduce fat on your inner thighs, work your hip abductors. Whatever your problem area, working out with weights on a regular basis will deliver a quick and dramatic improvement.
A recent study carried out by the University of Alabama in Birmingham showed that a group of dieters who worked out with weights three times a week, lost an equal amount of weight while taking in the same number of calories as a group of dieters who engaged in aerobic activity during the run of the trial. The one difference between the two groups was that the participants who lifted weights lost fat only. Those who worked out aerobically also lost around 8% of their muscle mass.
Weight Training for Women Summary
Weight training for women is an efficient way of toning your muscles and reducing your level of body fat.
Keep in mind that muscle weighs more than fat. This means that when working out with weights regularly, you won’t necessarily lose weight as quickly as you’d hoped. You may even find you weigh a little more than before you started weight training. Don’t obsess about this. If your clothes fit better than they did before you began lifting weights, or if you need to buy a smaller size, ignore the number on the scale.
For more information on weight training for women, read Weight Lifting for Women – Facts and Myths.