Many women are intimidated by the prospect of strength or weight training alongside their cardio workouts, but they shouldn't be. Get the most out of your gym membership. After all, you pay just as much as your male counterparts, so go for the barbell and weights and get pumping. Knowing what strength-training routines and workouts can help you tone safely and effectively will get you closer to that muscular physique you’ve always wanted.
There are many benefits to toning your muscles. Weight training has been shown to prevent the effects of aging in pre-menopausal women and even reverse the aging process in post-menopausal women, according to an article by ABC News. By lifting weights moderately women can increase their muscle mass, reduce their weight and body fat, improve balance and build up their bones. As women age it becomes increasingly hard to maintain that muscle mass, which can lead to weight gain and even bone loss. Women are at risk of diabetes, obesity and osteoporosis because of the rate at which they lose muscle mass from mid-age on.
If you are new to strength training or only plan on lifting two or three days per week, a full-body workout routine can be beneficial. Basically, you can work each muscle group in smaller amounts without the risk of overtraining. First work your larger muscle groups, such as your legs, back and chest. Next work the smaller muscle groups such as your arm muscles, core and shoulders. Do two exercises per muscle group and if you can, include exercises that work two muscle groups at the same time, such as squats with biceps curls.
Upper- and Lower-Body Routines
For those who want to split up their upper- and lower-body routines you can alternate days to use these exercises and give adequate recovery time for the muscle groups. The lower-body exercises should target the hamstrings, glutes, lower back, quadriceps and calves. For your upper body, include exercises for the abs, chest, back, shoulders, triceps, biceps and forearms.
A split routine is useful for those who want to devote more time to strength training. It’s best to isolate your muscles into smaller groups and muscles that complement each other during workouts. According to Bodybuilding.com, you can break down your week with a split routine by starting with arms on day one, chest and abs on day two, rest on day three, shoulders on day four, back exercises on day five, rest on day six, and legs and calves on day seven.
No matter which muscle groups you decide to work out together or on different days, you should aim for two to three exercises per muscle group. Each exercise should include two to three sets of 10 to 12 reps. It’s also essential to give your major muscle groups a day of rest in between strength-training sessions in order to recover properly and avoid injury.
Danielle Clark has been a writer since 2009, specializing in environmental and health and fitness topics. She has contributed to magazines and several online publications. Clark holds a Bachelor of Science in ecology and environmental science.