Strength training is beneficial for building strength, mass and endurance, but many women shy away from it for fear of looking like a power lifter. Strength training, however, protects your health in many ways. A regular strength-training routine keeps your bones strong, enhances focus and helps control chronic health conditions. In addition, strength training burns calories and boosts metabolism, making it ideal if you want to lose weight or maintain your current weight. If you're a beginner, don't just jump into an intense and advanced program. Start small and work your way up to harder routines as you get stronger and you'll notice definition in your muscles without looking like a bodybuilder.
Choose dumbbells with a pound load appropriate for your beginner status. Don't just grab a couple of 20-pound weights and get started. This could cause an injury and might be too difficult to keep up long enough to produce results. Start with a small weight. The right one allows you to finish 12 repetitions of a given exercise with proper form. If it's too hard, the weight is probably too heavy. If it's too easy, move up to a heavier weight.
Include eight to 10 different exercises in your routine. Make sure you target each of your major muscle groups for the most benefit. Include moves that work your arms, shoulders, back, core and legs. This prevents muscular imbalances that could cause injury and a disproportionate body shape.
Choose exercises for beginners. Starting with advanced moves will only discourage you and reduce the benefit of your program. Lunges, pushups, squats, biceps curls, planks, crunches, shoulder presses and triceps extensions are good options for beginners because they are fairly easy to do.
Do at least 12 repetitions of each exercise in your routine. This is enough for most women and allows you to build strength and mass without getting huge.
Strength train for 20 to 30 minutes, two or three times per week. This is enough to produce results in just two or three weeks. You'll notice a toned look to your muscles, but they won't be huge.
- As you get stronger and build your endurance, increase the pound load of your weights and add sets to your routine. This ensures that you'll sustain your progress.
- As you get more comfortable with strength training, try some of the weight machines at the gym. They are often heavier than free weights, so they aren't appropriate for all beginners. However, they are good for keeping up your progress once you begin to gain muscle mass.
- Talk to your doctor before starting a new strength-training routine, particularly if you have physical limitations, injuries or health conditions.
Eliza Martinez has written for print and online publications. She covers a variety of topics, including parenting, nutrition, mental health, gardening, food and crafts. Martinez holds a master's degree in psychology.