Are you a woman looking to get into strength training, but aren't quite sure where to begin?
Strength training offers a number of different benefits. Not only can it help you build muscle, but it can also strengthen your bones, improve the flexibility of your joints, lower your abdominal fat, and improve your cardiovascular health.
But, before you begin strength training, there are some things you need to know to keep you safe and to help you maximize your results.
Check out this essential guide to strength training for women to learn everything you need to know.
1. Create a Plan
In order to maximize your results when strength training, you need to have a workout plan in place. If you're just hopping from machine to machine at random without any set plan, you're not going to get very far.
Think of it this way: if you were training for a 10k race, you wouldn't just run whenever you feel like it and hope for the best. Instead, you'd create a workout plan that would help you improve your endurance and your speed so you're ready for race day.
The same logic can be applied to strength training. To create a plan that works for you, we recommend speaking with a fitness coach or personal trainer. If you don't have the money to spend on personal training sessions, you can either create your own plan or download one off the internet.
Many fitness influencers on Instagram sell affordable workout plans, but there are also plenty of ones that are available for free.
While every woman's workout plan will be different, generally speaking, you want to try to hit every major muscle group twice per week. For example, you could do a leg workout on Monday, an arm workout on Wednesday, and a full body workout on Friday. You could then use the remaining days of the week to stretch or to do some light cardio or yoga.
2. Eat a Healthy Diet
In order to get the most from your strength training sessions, you need to make sure youre fueling your muscles with healthy foods.
be overwhelming trying to figure out what diet plan you should follow when strength training, and there are so many conflicting articles out there about what diet is the “best” for weight lifters. But, it's important to understand that a strength training food plan doesn't need to be expensive or complicated.
Here are the main things you want to focus on:
- Consuming an adequate amount of calories (If you want to gain muscle, you'll need to eat in a surplus. To lose fat, you'll need to eat in a deficit)
- Eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains
- Fueling your body with healthy carbs
If you feel that your diet is lacking in any way, you may also want to consider taking health supplements. Some people also like to consume pre- and post-workout drinks to add some extra fuel, but you may find that you don't need these.
3. Start Slow
During your first strength training session, it may be tempting to hit the heavy weights and really go for it. But, this is often a recipe for disaster.
Not only will you wind up incredibly sore, but you're also more prone to injury if you try to lift too heavy. Plus, the heavier the weight is, the harder it is to maintain your form.
This is why we recommend starting out light and then slowly increasing your weights from one session to the next. Also, don't feel like you need to spend hours in the gym to achieve results. A good strength training session can be completed in as little as 30 to 40 minutes.
4. Remember to Warm Up
Before you hit the weights, it's very important that you remember to warm up. Warming up loosens your joints, improves blood flow in your muscles, and in turn, helps to prevent injuries.
Here are some ways you can warm up before a strength training session:
- Go for a brisk walk or a light jog
- Jump rope
- Do jumping jacks
- Do some dynamic stretches (high knees, butt kicks, etc)
You can also go through your strength training motions without weights. For example, if you plan to do lunges during your workout, do 5 to 10 lunges without any weights to get your muscles warm and to get your body used to the motion.
5. Practice Good Form
Practicing good form is key to training effectively and preventing injuries.
Hiring a personal trainer is one of the best ways to learn weight lifting form. If you don't have the money to spend on weekly training sessions, don't worry about it. Most personal trainers are happy to go over proper weight lifting techniques in a few sessions.
It's also a good idea to conduct your training sessions in front of a mirror to make sure you're using proper form throughout each motion. Additionally, make sure to check in with yourself throughout your workout to make sure you're maintaining your form.
Also, if you feel like your form is starting to drop, switch to a lower weight. It's better to use good form and lift with lighter weights than it is to use bad form and lift with heavy weights.
6. Remember to Take Rest Days
Last but not least, don't forget to take rest days.
After a tough training session, our muscles are likely going to feel tired and sore the next day. This is known as delayed onset muscle soreness, or DOMS. When you lift weights, you cause miscroscopic tears to your muscle tissues.
In order for these muscle fibers to repair and come back stronger, you need to give your body proper rest. Generally speaking, you should allow for one day of rest between each training session for each muscle group. So, if you lift legs on Monday, you'll want to wait until Wednesday before you train legs again.
Strength Training for Women: Time to Get Started
Now that you've read this guide on strength training for women, it's time to get started. As we mentioned earlier, strength training offers a lot of benefits, and it sure beats running on a treadmill for hours on end!
To learn more about strength training, be sure to check out this FAQ guide.