Strength training is phenomenal for women. It helps you burn MORE calories even at rest! It reduces the risk of osteoporosis. It burns body fat, reshaping your body, not just creating a smaller version of it. It helps you keep muscle tone and definition as your body changes. It decreases risks of injuring yourself in day to day activities and other workouts.
Weight training for women will NOT bulk you! You have to be very intentional to build that type of muscle and normally doesn’t happen without the use of a lot of supplements and enhancers. So please don’t let that stop you! I’ve seen the benefits for myself along with higher mental clarity and cardio endurance when I’m strength training. Although many KNOW there are lots of benefits to strength training, getting started can be intidmidating. All the weights, machines, and options are confusing and overwhelming. So here are some tips for getting started in strength training and some great beginner strength workouts.
Tips for Beginning Strength Training
- Aim for twice a week, 20-30 minutes to start out with. If you are already active you can add this on before or after your cardio activity.
- Strength training can be a variety of activities: typical free weights, kettlebell movements, bodyweight exercises (pushups/lunges), barre classes, pilates, Olympic lifting, bootcamp classes, and resistance band workouts.
- Take things slow, focusing on your form over speed or number of movements.
- Most strength workouts are broken into reps and sets. Reps are the number of times you do each particular exercise. Sets are the number of totatl times you go through your reps. So if you see on a workout Dumbell curls 8 reps, 3 sets, you complete 8 bicep curls, rest for 30 seconds to a minute and then complete 8 again a second time, rest again, and then complete 8 again the last time. Most workouts are clear how they want you to progress with instructions at the top.
- Warm up with 5-10 minutes of light cardio before beginning your strength workout. This will help your muscles be warm and pliable when you get started which is important to avoid injury.
- Cool down with 5-10 minutes of stretching after your strength workout to ease soreness. Foam rolling is good too! (See Basic Foam Rolling for more tips!)
- For best results change up your strength workout every 6 weeks so your body doesn’t get too “used to” doing the same exercises over and over again.
Strength Training Resources for Beginners:
- Women’s Health Big Book of Exercises–my strength training LOVE. A variety of workout plans and full pictures of each exercise with modifications. A few notes on cardio, clean eating, etc. but overall this book will teach you how to strength train.
- Female Body Breakthrough–a great overall strength focused book with eating plan and explanation of why the emphasis on weights. The “tone” can come off a bit harsh at times, but the workouts are phenomenal!
- The New Rules of Lifting for Women–a classic, no-nonsense guide to lifting.
- Core Fusion Barre Basics–Barre is a low impact way to strength train using bodyweight exercises. It seems simple, but it will give you a crazy good workout!
- 10 Minute Solution-Tone Trouble Zones–This workout dvd uses a resistance band for an at-home strength workout that builds on itself in 10 minute increments. Perfect for beginners!
- Piyo–I’m excited to start this low impact pilates yoga fusion that is also a great strength workout! This is a great Beachbody program–others that also incorporate strength training (but on a more intense level) are ChaLean Extreme, 21 Day Fix, P90X3, and Insanity.
Online Workouts & Training Programs:
- Fitnessista Summer & Winter Shape-Ups–I’m a total fangirl of Gina’s and love participating in the shape-ups when they roll around and completing the workouts in the meantime. You can do any shapeup whenever, just click on a a date, Summer 2015 for example, and find Workout Week 1. She will break down your daily workouts (both strength and cardio, full meal plans, and offers great modifiers for beginners.
- Your Trainer Paige–I comleted one of Paige’s at home training programs last year and it was great for building muscle! She knows her stuff and has a big emphasis on form. I’d definitely check out her Body Weight Burn (a paid program) and she has a lot of free workouts too!
- Nerdfitness.com–Their Beginner Bodyweight Workout is a great place to start! They also have a members-only section of the site called The Academy with online resources for nutrition, fitness, workouts and support. They will teach you all you need to know with a quirky approach!
There are so many great ways to strength train, whether you are just starting out or trying to mix things up! Don’t be intimidated by hitting the weight room solo, working with a personal trainer on strength or incorporating strength training in a more nontraditional method like barre, pilates, or a multiuse workout dvd! There are many options to explore and find what works for YOU!
What’s your favorite way to strength train? How did you get started in strength training?
Linking up to Fitness Friday!