We Are What We Lift
Progressive resistance is crucial to any women’s strength-training program. Once your muscles adapt to a given exercise, you need to increase either the resistance or the number of repetitions to promote future gains. Begin with a weight that allows you to do a minimum of eight repetitions of a particular exercise. Once you are able to complete 12 repetitions with that weight, you should increase the weight by about five percent. At this point, drop back to eight repetitions with the heavier weight. Once you’ve worked up to 12 repetitions with the heavier weight, you increase it by another five percent.
The recovery process between training sessions takes at least 48 hours. Because of this, your strength -training sessions should be scheduled no more frequently than every other day. If you enjoy training more frequently, avoid hitting the same muscle group on consecutive days.
Here is a sample training schedule for a person who does a moderate amount of exercise each week:
- Monday & Thursday: Upper body strength training. Do three sets of eight repetitions of things like arm exercises and back exercises. When you are done, do 10 minutes of low to medium intensity cardio, such as jogging on the treadmill.
- Tuesday & Friday: Lower body strength training and abdominals. Do three sets of eight repetitions. Do a 20 minute, moderate intensity cardio workout.
- Wednesday & Saturday: Do a 30 to 40 minute cardio workout at a high intensity.
- Sunday: Rest!
As a woman, you don’t have enough testosterone to get the big bulging muscles that body builders get. So stop worrying about bulking up and pick up some heavier weights at the gym. Weights that are too light for you will not magically shape and tone your body. Don’t be intimidated by the equipment that men traditionally use. You pay for that barbell with your gym membership just as much as he does. Use a barbell to do squats or try lifting for your arm exercises twice per week with one of your friends as a spotter.
When you perform any series of strength training exercises, make sure to perform exercises that involve compound movements for the larger muscle groups prior to performing isolation exercises for the smaller muscle groups. For example, if you fatigue your generally weak triceps prior to performing a bench press, your form will be less than optimal while performing the bench press. This is because the triceps assist the pectoral in performing the press.
The speed of the lifting movement is also an important factor to consider. For best results, count one to two seconds for the lifting portion of the exercise and three to four seconds for the lowering portion of the movement. Avoid fast, jerky movements that rely on momentum, as opposed to muscle.
See you at the gym, and remember we are what we lift!
Your friends at “Socially Fit”