Many women worry about working out with weights, as they believe it encourages the muscles to bulk up, costing them their feminine figures. In fact, weight training can have many positive health benefits for women, and they should include it in their workout programs.
The American College of Sports Medicine, ACSM, recommends that healthy adults under the age of 65 perform eight to 10 strength training exercises twice a week. ACSM suggests completing eight to 12 repetitions of each exercise. This is in addition to the recommended 30 minutes of cardio exercise five times per week.
Most women train with weights to improve their muscular endurance and to keep their bodies toned. Lifting moderately heavy weights for three sets of 12 repetitions can help to achieve this. For a whole body workout, women can choose weight training exercises that incorporate large muscle groups with one movement rather than focusing on one specific muscle. Good weight training exercises for women include dumbbell lunges, leg curls, leg presses, bench presses, pullovers, lat pull downs, upright rows and abdominal curls.
An ideal workout program for a woman who wants to include weight training will start with an aerobic warmup followed by stretching exercises. She can then move onto her cardio exercise, such as biking, jogging or stepping for 20 to 30 minutes before completing her weight training exercises. To avoid fatigue, she can complete the exercises that use the largest muscle groups first. She should rest for a minute between each set and longer if she needs to between the different exercises. This section of her workout should take about 20 minutes. After the weight training component, she can complete a cool down and finish with stretching exercises. The whole workout should take about an hour and is suitable to repeat two or three times per week. It is a good idea to have a rest day or to alternate activities between these sessions to give the muscles a chance to recover and adapt to the training.
Weight training has many physical and mental health benefits. People who train regularly notice a positive effect on their self confidence and body image. It can increase their sporting performance and strength and improve their posture and muscle balance. Weight training can also help to increase bone density, strengthen tendons and ligaments and reduce the risk of injury.
- Gym Instructing Handbook; (2004); YMCA