There truly is no "best" weight lifting routine for women, because any number of training programs can get similar results. In fact, you should switch your lifting routine every four to six weeks to force your body to adapt to new training stimuli. Women do not need to train differently than men, according to "The Female Training Bible." Besides having one-sixteenth of the testosterone of men, women's bodies respond to training in a very similar way, except that they cannot gain much muscle mass due to their hormonal profile. However, targeting training for growth hormone-release may help women because it plays an important role in their muscles' recovery process.
Build and Burn Super-Sets
For this weight lifting routine, you will utilize super-sets, which are done by performing one exercise and then immediately doing another with very little rest between them. The weekly breakdown might look like this: Shoulders on Monday, arms on Tuesday, legs on Wednesday, chest on Thursday and back on Friday. For each day and muscle group, you choose one to three super-sets, each made up of three sets with 12, 10 and eight repetitions respectively. For your back for example, you choose two super-sets, combining pull-ups and straight-arm pull-downs into one and bent-over rows and machine pull-overs into the other. On the first super-set you would do a 12-rep set of pull-ups, rest 30 seconds, do a 12-rep set of straight-arm pull-downs, rest 30 seconds, do a 10-rep set of pull-ups, rest 30 seconds and continue alternating until you have completed three sets of each for the prescribed number of reps. Then proceed to the bent-over rows and machine pull-over super-set and do the same thing.
Upper and Lower Body Routines
Alternate upper and lower body workouts over four training days each week for this routine. Hit the upper body on Monday, for example, doing bench presses, bent-over rows, dumbbell shoulder presses, triceps "skull crusher" extensions and barbell curls for three sets each, keeping the reps between eight and 12. On Tuesday, you train your lower body with squats, stiff-legged deadlifts, leg extensions, leg curls, standing calf raises, lying leg raises and exercise ball crunches for three sets each. Keep all reps between eight and 12, except for the last two abs exercises, for which you use 10 to 15 reps. Take Wednesday off for recovery. On Thursday, you target the upper body again by doing dips, pull-ups or lat pull-downs, dumbbell lateral raises, triceps pushdowns and biceps cable curls for three sets each. On Friday it is back to the lower body with deadlifts, leg presses, dumbbell lunges, seated calf raises, dumbbell shrugs, decline crunches and hyperextensions for three sets each. Once again, do the last two core exercises in the 10 to 15 repetition range for these more endurance-oriented muscle fibers.
10 X 10 Workouts
The 10X10 weight lifting routine is very simple, but can provide quick and impressive results, according to "The Ultimate 10X10 Mass Workout." This program crunches a lot of exercise volume, meaning sets and repetitions, into a short amount of time. It also helps to trigger the lactic acid response of the body, which stimulates more GH, or growth hormone production. Since women produce only a fraction of the testosterone of men, their bodies rely more heavily on GH for muscle recovery. This routine follows a four-day cycle, after which you should rest at least a day, if not two, before repeating the program. The first day you work arms and shoulders, the second day targets legs and abs, the third day is a rest day and the fourth is chest and back. Each day you pick one compound exercise for each muscle group being trained and you do 10 sets of 10 repetitions, resting 30 to 60 seconds between sets. Pick a weight you can lift for 15 reps so that you do not reach muscle failure. For example, on chest and back day, you might do 10 sets of 10 reps on the bench press and then finish with 10 sets of 10 reps at the lat pull-down machine.
- BodyBuilding.com; "The Female Training Bible"; Katie Lobliner & Derek Charlebois
- "Optimum Anabolics"; Jeff Anderson; 2004
- "The Ultimate 10X10 Mass Workout"; Jonathan Lawson and Steve Holman; 2009