Weight training not only builds lean muscle tissue and makes you stronger, it also boosts your metabolism and burns calories, leading to fat loss, claims Dr. Len Kravitz of the University of New Mexico. Add to that the fact that strength training, according to the American Council on Exercise, also reduces your risk of diabetes and osteoarthritis and lowers your levels of bad cholesterol, and you're on to a winner. When planning your training, it's vital that you have a set schedule in order to ensure maximum results.
Weight Training for Women
The basic principles for weight training should be exactly the same for women as they are for men, notes New Jersey-based strength coach and gym owner Joe DeFranco. Women needn't be afraid of getting too big and bulky through lifting weights, adds Mark Sisson, author of "Primal Blueprint Fitness." You don't have enough testosterone to worry about getting huge muscles, but strength training will help sculpt and define your physique.
Number of Days
First you need to decide on how many days you want to work out. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a minimum of two strength-training sessions each week, but you can do more than this if you wish. The effort you put in while you're at the gym is far more important than the number of visits you make each week, so choose a number you can stick to.
You've got two basic programming options -- a full-body workout or a split workout. A full-body means, quite simply, working all of your major muscle groups -- legs, chest, back, shoulders and core -- in every session. A split workout involves training one or two body parts per session. A full-body workout is superior for beginners, those looking to burn fat or if you can only make it to the gym two or three times a week, according to strength coach Marc Perry of BuiltLean.com. A split routine is better for bodybuilders or if you're training more than three times a week.
Whether you opt for a full-body or a split workout, certain guidelines stay the same. Your workouts should last 45 minutes to an hour so you can train at maximum intensity without burning out. Base them around multijoint compound exercises, advises trainer Chad Waterbury, author of "Muscle Revolution," as these hit more muscle fibers and burn more calories. Stick to four or five basic exercises per session such as squats, lunges, deadlifts, bench or overhead presses, chinups, rows and abdominal work.
- Dr. Len Kravitz: Resistance Training and EPOC
- American Council on Exercise: Strength Training Benefits More than Muscles
- DeFranco's Training: Should Females Train Differently Than Males?
- Primal Strength Training for Women: Not So Different After All
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: How Much Physical Activity Do Adults Need?
- Built Lean: Full Body Workout Vs. Split Routine: Which Is Better?
- Chad Waterbury: Full Body Training Part 3: Fat Loss
Mike Samuels started writing for his own fitness website and local publications in 2008. He graduated from Peter Symonds College in the UK with A Levels in law, business and sports science, and is a fully qualified personal trainer, sports massage therapist and corrective exercise specialist with accreditations from Premier Global International.