As a woman, it is imperative to engage in weightlifting exercises to not only benefit your outward appearance, but to reduce the risk of developing chronic ailments such as osteoporosis, diabetes and depression. The ideal weightlifting plan for women is one that not only works major muscle groups, but one that you can stick with. Consult your doctor before starting a weightlifting routine.
The most valuable step in creating a weightlifting plan is determining how much time you can devote per week to lifting. The minimum recommendation for adult women and men is to weightlift at least two days per week, according to Harvard Health. Although it is possible to strength train more than two days per week, it is imperative you give your body one to two days of rest between weightlifting sessions. To meet the minimum weekly requirements, you might lift on Monday and Thursday, or to meet the three-day maximum, strength train on Monday, Thursday and Saturday.
Based on the weekly strength training requirements outlined by Harvard Health, you should aim to exercise all major muscle groups within a single exercise session. While it is possible to isolate each of these muscle groups, to save time at the gym, engage in workouts that exhaust multiple muscle groups at once. For example, bodyweight squats isolate four muscle groups: buttocks, quadriceps, hamstrings and the erector spinae muscle, which runs along the back of the spine. The standard barbell bench press or pushups targets the deltoids, triceps and the entire chest region. The single-arm dumbbell row isolates the biceps, obliques, shoulders, triceps and the erector spinae. Lastly, the stability ball crunch primarily targets the entire abdominal region. In this way, the entire body may be worked out with four standard exercises.
Sets and Repetitions
The number of sets and repetitions you perform of each exercise is solely determined by your fitness goals. For example, a woman wishing to increase her muscle size would engage in muscle mass training, which consists of lifting five to eight repetitions within one to three sets. On the other hand, a woman wishing to increase muscular endurance should lift 15 to 20 repetitions within one to three sets, according to strength training guidelines established by the American College of Sports Medicine.
A common misconception circulating throughout the fitness industry is the notion women will achieve large, masculine muscles from strength training. While muscular hypertrophy will occur, women typically lack the genetic makeup to develop bulky muscles without supplementation or extreme hypertrophy training, according to the Jessica Matthews, MS, E-RYT, exercise physiologist for the American Council on Exercise. The goal when selecting a weight is to cause complete muscle exhaustion within 90 seconds of starting an exercise.
- MayoClinic.com: Strength Training: Get Stronger, Leaner, Healthier
- Harvard Health: Keeping Your Strength Training Routine Fresh, From Harvard’s Strength and Power Training Special Health Report
- University of New Mexico: Recovery in Training
- American Council on Exercise: Bodyweight Squat
- American Council on Exercise: Barbell Bench Press
- American Council on Exercise: Single-Arm Dumbbell Row
- ExRx: Ball Crunch (On Stability Ball)
- American College of Sports Medicine: Selecting and Effectively Using Free Weights
- American Council on Exercise: High Reps and Light Weights vs. Low Reps and Heavy Weights
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