If you think weightlifting is a boy's game, you're missing out on a whole host of benefits that come from strength training. According to "Fitness" magazine, after you finish strength training you're metabolism gets a boost of up to 20 percent for two hours. This means that even after you've left the gym you're body will still be busy burning calories for you.
Women's Strength Training Basics
Women's weightlifting goals generally fall under two categories: non-athletes looking to build lean muscle or female athletes trying to build strength. Using the weight machines at the gym will help both populations achieve their fitness goals, but female athletes may need a more sport-specific training routine that is beyond the scope of this overview. Many female non-athletes avoid the weight machines for fear of "bulking up," without realizing that because of low testosterone levels and genetics, it's very difficult for a woman to build bulky, masculine muscles, even from lifting heavy weights. As a female who lifts weights, you don't have to feel locked into the old school "low weight, high reps" style of lifting 5-lb. dumbbells.
Top Machines for Women
In the article "5 Best Strength-Training Machines for Women," "Fitness" magazine tops their list with the cable tower curls for biceps, lat pulldown for the upper back, leg press for the glutes and quadriceps, smith machine for the chest and the shoulder press for the shoulder muscles. "Strength Training for Women" recommends adding barbell squats using the smith machine to sculpt a nice butt and the seated adductor and abductor machines to target the difficult-to-tone inside and outside of your thighs. While these are some of the top weight machines for women, it should be noted that all of the weight machines at the gym are appropriate and safe for women. Create a weight machine circuit that includes machines that not only target your problem zones, but engage all of the major muscle groups.
Ask for Help
If you're new to working out at the gym, enlist the help of a personal trainer or gym staff member to show you how to work each machine and put together a comprehensive exercise routine. Most gyms have an orientation program where you can ask questions about individual machines. You'll also find that most exercise machines have instructions printed on the machine, so if you prefer to jump straight in, make sure you read all of the directions first. Always take the time to position the chair, leg or armrests to the proper position, as bad form or posture could put you at risk for injury.
Sample Weight Machine Routine
Before you even set foot in the gym, plan out which body parts you're going to focus on. There are two ways to go about this -- either work your full body two to three times per week, or split the week up into groups of body parts, like back and arms or legs and abs. Warm up your muscles with five to 10 minutes of walking on the treadmill, riding the stationary bike or running on the elliptical machine. Perform a circuit of eight to 10 exercise machines that fall under your target plan for the day. For each exercise, perform 12 to 15 repetitions, making sure that your muscles feel fatigued by the time you reach the last few reps. If you feel like you could keep going, it's time to increase the weight. For the first few weeks, focus on one set for each exercise, working your way up to three sets as your muscles adapt. Finish off your routine with five minutes of light aerobic activity and full body stretches.