Strength Training for Women

Strength Training for Women: Beginner’s Guide to Fat Loss

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Strength Training for WomenIf I want to lose body fat, shouldn’t I be doing cardio?

Too often, WOMEN SPECIFICALLY, associate fat loss with cardio.

Don’t get me wrong, cardio definitely has its fat loss benefits if done correctly.

Unfortunately, cardio doesn’t even come close in comparison to strength training’s fat loss burning potential. Several studies have PROVEN that strength training provides better fat loss results than cardio by a landslide. (1) , (2)

You absolutely NEED strength training incorporated into your fitness routine!

Strength Training for Women

Too often women have a negative association with strength training, assuming they will grow muscles like Arnold Schwarzenegger.

This is a pretty far stretch.

While some women have a genetic predisposition to naturally having a larger frame, this theory only goes so far. Unless you are shooting anabolic steroids like Arnold, you need not worry too much.

Now that we’ve covered that, let’s discuss how you can incorporate strength training for fat loss!

First, let’s discuss some of the other benefits that strength training provides.

1.  Afterburn Effect

The afterburn effect or EPOC (Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption), is essentially the calories you continue to burn after exercising. Even though this is generally associated with high-intensity workouts, this will still stand true for a number of strength training exercises (don’t worry, we’ll cover this soon).

2. Improves Body Composition

Yes, you will look better! As the body-fat drops, you will tone your body as well.

3. Boost Confidence and Mood While Reducing Stress

This is a personal favorite of mine. As you start looking better, you will also start feeling better about yourself as well. Probably the most rewarding part of resistance training. In fact, strength training has been proven to help with depression while improving low energy levels (source)

4. Builds Lean Muscle Mass

This is a good thing. Stop worrying about having too much muscle! Not to mention, as we age, our muscle mass naturally declines.

The more muscle you have on your body, the more calories you burn at rest. This means better body fat burning potential. This is because you have a higher metabolic rate, which simply means you need more calories in order to maintain your weight.

5. Improves Heart Health

When the heart is routinely put under more pressure (like it is during a resistance training exercise), it causes the heart to pump blood stronger and more effectively. This causes a reduction in blood pressure, NATURALLY!

Now that we’ve covered the benefits, let’s review a few things you should keep in mind before hitting the weights.

1. Make Sure to Recover Properly

What I mean by this is do a proper cool down.

You should always use a foam roller after every workout! What happens when you push your muscles is little micro-spasms begin to develop. If left alone, eventually form into adhesion’s or knots.

These knots allow for less movement on the muscles, greatly increasing your chance of injury. So, make sure you roll those muscles out before they turn into knots.

2. You Live by The Machines

Don’t get me wrong, for SOME exercises the machines are great. The problem is you are limiting yourself to only an isolated exercise.

Free weights and full body weight exercises are going to yield much better results.

3. Don’t Forget About the Stabilizer’s

It’s easy to focus on only the main muscle groups, which for women is most likely the legs and butt.

There are other muscles that are just as important that we don’t see that NEED to be incorporated into the resistance training routine. Ignore these muscles, and you are asking for an injury due to awkward posture. (source)

Focus on working the stabilizers of the core muscles, neck, and rotator cuff. This is why doing the chest press exercise with free weights is so much more beneficial than using a machine. All the muscles are engaged, unlike machines where you are restricted to a limited movement. The same applies to performing a lunge vs leg extension machine.

4. Your Intensity Level Is Sub Par

Ever hear the term “Go Big or Go Home”.

Ladies, this doesn’t only apply to the guys. Sometimes, going for High Rep low weights all day is not pushing you to your fat burning potential.

Studies have proven that women burn more calories from adding a little extra weight. You don’t have to grab 100 lbs dumbbell to get the job done, just make sure you are not grabbing the 5 lbs weights and pushing out 30 reps.

Get the proper weight, and you will get the desired result.

OK, enough with the tips and benefits, let’s see the exercises.

1. Squats

Squats are a great beginner exercise.

They should be done with a slight arch in the lower back so that your butt sticks out while your back stays nice and straight.

You also want to make sure you are not leaning over too far, otherwise, you put more stress on the knee’s and take the majority of the load off of the glutes (we want to feel it in the butt).

If the exercise is too easy (meaning you can complete more than 10 reps), step it up a notch and grab some dumbbells to add some more intensity.

Muscles Engaged: Glutes (buttocks), Hamstrings, Quadriceps

Reps: 8-10 Reps

Sets: 3-4

2. Lunges

Step forward with one leg, and make sure to lower your hips until both of your knees are bent at a 90-degree angle.

Make sure the leg you stepped forward with is either slightly behind or directly parallel to your ankle.

Keep the weight on your heels as you begin to push back up to the starting position. Same applies to lunges as it does with squats, add some weight if it’s too easy.

Muscles Engaged: Glutes (buttocks), Hamstrings, Quadriceps, Core Muscles

Reps: 8-10 Reps

Sets: 3-4

3. Chest Press

The barbell bench press does not have to be the only way you can do this. Grab some dumbbells and lay on a bench with the appropriate weight.

To do this exercise, you want to lay on a bench with both feet on the floor. Raise the weights until both arms are both fully extended, and hands are roughly shoulder width apart.

Lower the weights to your mid-chest, and then raise them up again until both arms are fully extended again.

Muscles Engaged: Chest, Triceps, Deltoids (shoulders)

Reps: 8-10 Reps

Sets: 3-4

Alternative Exercise for At Home: Push-ups

4. Pull-ups

This is a great exercise because this engages so many different muscles.

What you want to do is have your hands face away from you, grip the bar shoulder width apart, and pull your self up until your chin reaches above the bar.

Since this is considered a fairly difficult exercise, try using a machine that assists you in the process.

What I like even better are pull up bands, which are basically resistance bands that either go around your foot or under your knee to assist you with a pull-up.

Muscles Engaged: Lats, Biceps, Triceps, Chest, Shoulders, Core (Abs and lower back)

Reps: As many Reps as possible

Sets: 3-4

5. Bent Over Row

You want to begin by standing with legs shoulder width apart, hold a dumbbell in each hand (or barbell) with your palms facing your body.

Bend over while keeping your back straight at roughly at a 45-degree angle. Next, tighten up the core while keeping your back in the same position and lift the weight(s) straight up and down.

Muscles Engaged: Lats (upper back muscles), Biceps, shoulders, core (lower back and abs), Trapezius

Reps: 8-10 Reps

Sets: 3-4

6. Deadlift

To perform this exercise, you want to keep your abs tight and back straight. DO NOT ARCH YOUR BACK!

Keep the bar as close to you as possible, and allow the bar to roll down your shins, and then back up your quads until you are back in the standing position. Watch the video for a full demonstration.

Word of caution: This exercise is one the easiest exercises to perform incorrectly. Be EXTREMELY careful not to over-due it, or you raise the risk of causing injury to yourself.

Muscles Engaged: Quads, Hamstrings, Biceps, Forearms, Shoulders, Traps, Core

Reps: 8-10 Reps

Sets: 3-4

As you can see, strength training provides more than enough benefits for weight loss.

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Strength Training for Women

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