Many women avoid weight training out of fear that they will develop a masculine body. Although women can naturally increase their muscle size, women don't naturally produce the hormones required for building hulking muscles. Just a small increase in muscle size makes muscle tone more apparent. The right workout makes all the difference because not all workouts deliver the same results. Weight training is an efficient way to tone your muscles, but even then, you must be sure to use the proper intensity and include an aerobic exercise plan.
Aerobic exercises are activities that are performed at a light enough resistance where your body can continue moving for a prolonged amount of time. The constant activity burns calories resulting in weight loss. Jogging, bike riding, swimming and jumping rope are a few of many aerobic activities. Toning the body requires shedding fat that covers the muscles. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends you perform at least 150 minutes of vigorous activity a week or at least 300 minutes of moderate activity a week for weight loss.
Muscle builds as a result of the body repairing itself after slight tearing occurs in the muscles. The body not only repairs the damaged muscles, it also builds them thicker so they can handle the workload in the future. If the body sees your workout as a rare occurrence, it will not put a priority on building itself up, so building muscle requires a constant schedule. Working out without proper rest hinders growth, which is why your muscles require 48 hours to repair themselves.
The intensity of your workout determines the results you get from weightlifting. The proper intensity for building muscle is performing three to four sets of eight to 12 reps of the exercise while using a weight that causes your muscles to begin fatiguing on the last two reps. Fatigue is the tiredness your muscles feel when being worked. Rest for 30 to 90 seconds between sets.
Focus on using the muscle being worked when lifting weight. Don't cheat yourself by swinging the weight or trying to incorporate other muscles into the lift. This results in minimal gain and can also lead to injury. An example of this is leaning backward during a barbell curl.
Your body has fast-twitch and slow-twitch muscle fibers. Slow-twitch muscle fibers are always used, but fast-twitch muscles are only called upon during high-intensity actions. Being conscious of this principle allows you to involve more muscle fibers by using explosive lifts, thereby working more muscle fibers and increasing your gains.
Consult your doctor before beginning any new exercise routine. Use a spotter when lifting heavy weights. Stop training if you feel lightheaded or any irregular pain or discomfort. Knowing when to call it a day can save you weeks of inactivity by preventing injury.
- ACE Personal Trainer Manual, Third Edition; Cedric X. Bryant et al.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Physical Activity for Everyone
Jason Cooley began writing in 2005 as the owner of a personal-training business, authoring advertising copy and business contracts. He has since served as a writer with Oral B and On Top of My Diabetes.