When women think of losing weight and toning up their bodies, many think of joining a gym and start attending exercise classes. Some of your friends may start to train as runners hoping to complete a 5K race in a few months.
But how many do you know who've started lifting weights? Training with weights is one of the best things a woman can do to help her tone up her muscles and lose weight.
Contrary to popular belief, you will not bulk-up if you begin lifting weights. In fact, it cannot happen because women's bodies lack the amount of testosterone it would take to cause their major muscle groups to gain excessively in size.
You can, however, gain some definition to your muscles. They will get stronger without growing in size.
As you begin or increase your weight lifting, you will be burning more calories. Lifting increases your metabolism for several hours, even up to 24 hours after your work out.
The strength of your connective tissues and joints will be increased as you lift weights, thus decreasing the possibility of injuries during your day to two day routines. Wearing the best workout gloves will prevent callouses and provide wrist support.
Eventually, you will find that your back, shoulders and your core will get stronger, bringing with them improved posture, allowing you to stand straight and tall.
If you're ready to start building your major muscle groups, increasing your metabolism and losing weight, it's time to get started by finding a program that will suit your needs.
Choose a Form of Weight Training
There are different kinds of strength training that will produce a variety of results in your body. Some kinds of weight training will increase your level of endurance. Other methods to start strength training will cause you to become stronger.
There are some types of weight lifting that will not result in much of any substantial gain. Let me share a little bit of information about differing methods. It will help you decide which type of weight training you would prefer and which one will be the best for you.
To get started, the main goal in powerlifting is to gain or increase your strength to an extreme level. For a powerlifter, appearance is not what matters to them. Their concern is in being able to lift incredibly heavyweights.
Only a few repetitions will need to be performed, and as you train, you will slightly increase the weight you're lifting or the number of reps you will repeat. To find the best kind of weight training equipment for you, check my guide on the best strength training equipment.
This particular type of weight training works by isolating a muscle or group. You will hold the muscle in one position, not contracting it at all for a specific number of seconds. Planking is a good example of an isometric exercise. This is a simple yet effective way to build your muscles and your endurance.
Circuit Weight Training
In this method, you will perform several exercises one right after the other and complete several repetitions of each exercise every two days. For example, you might do 20 squats, 20 weighted sit-ups, 20 calf raises, and so on, with no break in between.
The reason people body build is to make their muscles big – very big. They will usually train only one muscle group a day. Eating a large amount of protein is particularly important for them to help in building and repairing muscle tissue.
As with bodybuilding, you will work on improving only one muscle two to three times per week to strengthen the endurance of that group. The muscles will increase in size as you repeat one exercise and lift the same amount of weight for a certain number of sets.
Sample Beginner Weightlifting Routine for Women
Strength training for women is a great way to lose weight, firm up any flabby muscles you may have developed over the years and increase your endurance to carry out all of the physical tasks you have on a daily basis.
You will need to have these simple items at hand:
- 1As with any exercise program, begin with warming up your muscles. Plan for between 8-10 minutes of warming up. You can follow a formal series of stretches and old-style calisthenics, or go for jumping jacks and running in place.
- 2The first exercise will be squats. Your feet should be slightly more than shoulder-width apart. Make sure you keep your head, chest, and shoulders upright and that you're looking forward as you start to bend your knees. Push your butt as far back as you can and lower your body, bending at the knees. Do 10-12 reps.
- 3Next, you will take two dumbbells, one in each hand for the dumbbell bench press. Lying down on a flat bench, set the dumbbells on your thighs, with palms facing toward each other as you grasp them. Raise each dumbbell straight up, moving at a slow and steady pace. Inhale as you lower the weights down and exhale as you raise them up each time.
- 4Standing upright, you will hold a dumbbell in each hand to perform a tricep extension. You will have your feet a little wider than shoulder-width apart. Extend your hands and raise each dumbbell until they are over your head and your arms are extended fully. Lower your arms and repeat. Do 8 to 12 reps.
- 5Next in your program are the push-ups. Place your hands under your shoulders with your legs extended out behind you. The balls of your feet will be on the ground. Squeeze your butt and your stomach muscles and bend your elbows, lowering your body toward the ground letting your chest touch the ground. Push your lower body back up and return to your first position. Do two sets of 10 sit-ups.
- 6For the one arm dumbbell row, hold a dumbbell in one hand with your feet shoulder-width apart. The front leg will be bent and the back leg straight, leaning slightly forward. The dumbbell should be held in hand on the same side as the leg that is straight. Suck in your stomach and lower the dumbbell until your elbow is straight. Keeping your back straight, bend your elbow as you raise the dumbbell up keeping it close to your torso. Repeat this 10 times, then switch the position of your legs and do ten reps with the other hand.
- 7The final exercise of your strength training session will be a plank. For this exercise, begin by lying flat on your exercise mat with your face down and your hands in front of your shoulders. For a low-plank, raise up on your forearms – arms bent at the elbows – while making a fist with each hand. Curl your toes as you raise up and hold this prone position for at least 15 seconds, but remain in the plank position as long as you are able. Keep your stomach muscles tight while you plank.
- 8And finally, even though you've completed your weight training, you still have one more vital exercise routine to perform. Please do not end your work out without taking a few more minutes to cool down. Your muscles need to be stretched out and relaxed after you've completed the day's training. You'll be very happy that you did it.
A Few Useful Tips
Let's Start at the Very Beginning
Since I'm primarily talking to those who are absolute beginners at weight training or those who've been away from it for a very long time, the best way to go about this will be to learn a series of basic exercises.
Set Your Goals
Before you start this program, you really ought to decide what you plan to get out of this weight training routine and how you intend to accomplish it. Write down your short-term goals as well as your long-term goals.
Begin as a Light-Weight
You're just getting started with a lifelong strength building program. Start with the lighter weights as you find out what you're capable of lifting. Begin with 5 or 10-pound dumbbells or other weights. Experiment with these to see how they feel.
Get Some Professional Help
If you're not sure how to do a particular exercise ask one of your friends to help you out so you will learn the correct way to perform each exercise. Get off to the right start so you will make the most of your weight training. Doing an exercise in the wrong way might, at best, give you a strong stomach muscle that sticks out.
What is Your Body Telling You?
If you're wondering about your form or if a different way of doing an exercise could be better, think about how your muscles are feeling. If the exercise is meant to tone your upper back, but your arms are hurting from doing a dumbbell row, then you're doing something wrong.
Work step-by-step through the exercise but without the weights. See if you can figure out how to correct the way work with the barbell without hurting your arms.
Keep Moving Forward
As you are working on each exercise, you should always think about when it might be time to push yourself forward. When 10 reps with the 8-pound dumbbell have become comfortable, push yourself a little harder with 15 reps.
Give Your Body a Rest
Remember to give yourself a break. Although you may hear people telling you to “push through the pain” that doesn't mean you should be reckless with your health. The pain is there for a few good reasons. One of those is to remind you to give the strength training a short rest to allow your muscles and lower body to heal and repair.
I hope this has given you some ideas of how you can begin your weight training program at home. The routine mentioned here is only one idea of what you can do, and just one stage. You will need to make a few choices about what kind of program you want to follow and figure out how much weight you can lift in the beginning.