Questions About Strength Training for Women

February 24, 2010 | Comments: None Yet - Post a Comment

Categories: Equipment, Exercises & Workouts, Motivation, Wellness

Five questions I hear all of the time and the answers I give.  These are by no means the exhaustive information on the matter, just a place to start.


1.  I don’t want to look like a man.  If I lift heavy weights will I bulk up?   

I can almost promise you that you will not get big, manly muscles.  Though there are a few exceptions to this rule, most women have one-tenth the testosterone of a man and it takes testosterone to build big muscles.  You just don’t have the hormones for it.

2.  I’m older, is it safe for me to lift weights?

Absolutely!  Not only is it safe, it is mandatory.  The Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Ageing found that after 40, women start losing strength and it continues to decline at 8-10% per decade.  The only way to address this muscle loss is to do some kind of weight-bearing exercise.  You may have specific health needs that should be addressed, so it may be beneficial to speak to a personal trainer, especially if you have arthritis or osteoporosis.

3.  I just got here.  What exercises should I do?

Start with one exercise per major muscle group.  Bench press (chest), lat pull down (back), lateral raise or overhead press (shoulders), bicep curl, triceps press down, leg press or squat, and an abdominal curl.  There are many other exercises out there, these are just a  few basic choices.

4.  Machines or free weights?

 Both!  Machines tend to be a bit safer for the solo lifter, but they don’t provide the core and stability challenge of free weights.  And really, there is no reason why you could not incorporate both modalities into your workout.  When you are ready to delve into the fun and versatility of free weights, see a trainer to get yourself off to a safe start.

5.  How many times per week should I lift weights?

The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that you lift weights two to three days per week.  Perform at least one set of 8 to 12 repetitions and work your way up to two sets of 8 to 12.  Remember to never lift with the same muscle group two days in a row.  Your muscles need at least one day to recover.

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