Weight Training Tips for Women
By Brad Murrow
, last updated October 1, 2011
Women don’t have to bulk up when they use weights. Using lighter weights or low resistance settings on exercise machines, you can burn calories and improve your shape without bodybuilding. Adding weights to your workouts not only helps build sexier arms, legs and abs, but also burns more calories during and after workouts. Add weights to your exercise routine to shape up while you slim down.
Choose the Right Equipment
Depending on where you work out, you can use barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells, universal weight machines, a home gym or single-exercise weight machines. For home workouts, dumbbells, kettlebells and home gyms are your best bet. At the gym, a universal machine will let you perform a variety of exercise to work all areas of your body.
Choose dumbbells that will let you perform repetitions of an exercise for at least one minute before you have to stop if your goal is muscle toning. There’s no such thing as muscle “toning,” but many people refer to this as building muscles to make them look firmer without increasing their size to the point you bulk up. Use light dumbbells, starting a 2.5 or 5 pounds, to add weight training to cardio workouts like treadmill walking, exercise bike riding or aerobics routines.
A kettlebell is a weight that looks like a bowling ball with a handle on it. The handle makes it unstable, requiring you to use your core muscles to balance you during most exercises, improving your abs. Choose a weight you can lift off the floor and raise to shoulder height several times before you have to stop. This might be in the 10-pound range.
Choose Your Reps
If your goal is to build muscles, use heavier weights and perform your repetitions slowly, with a pause between uplifts and downlifts. Don’t let weights drops after you lift them — lower them slowly for the maximum benefit. Perform five reps of an exercise, and then take a break. Repeat the set two more times, and then take a short break before starting a new exercise.
To burn calories and improve your muscular endurance, use lighter weights and perform your reps more quickly. You can let weights drop and don’t need the pause between uplifts and downlifts since your goal is not bodybuilding. Work at a pace you can control the weights to avoid back strain. Do 10 to 12 reps per set for endurance, or as many as you can during your workouts for cardio.
Women like to target certain body areas for improvement. To work the backs of your arms, perform triceps extensions, starting with the weights behind your back, raising your arms above your head and turning your palms forward at the end.
To work your butt, do squats and lunges, lowering and raising yourself while holding the weights at your sides. Keep your torso straight.
To tighten your calves, stand on your toes for 10 seconds while holding weights. Repeat 10 times.
For a weighted ab workout, perform kettlebell or dumbbell swings, raising the weights from between your legs up to your shoulders and back down again.