Although more women are strength training, many do not train properly for various reasons. Training heavier with a smaller palate of exercises is the proper way to achieve strength results. Using larger muscle group exercises with a variety of rep ranges will enhance results from your workout.
Gyms are filled with women who pick up nothing heavier than “pink” dumbbells (super lightweight) perhaps thinking if they pick up some real (heavy) weight that they’ll wake up crippled with soreness, develop bulky muscles, or gain weight. Many women, I’ve observed, never pick up enough weight to benefit from their workout. There seems to be a lack of appreciation for the training effects of progressive resistive exercise. However, women lifting heavy and with intensity find that this type of strength training is making them stronger, improving their physiques and does not distort nor contort their bodies.
The best exercises to use for strength results are compound movements which recruit large muscle groups with heavy resistance and high-moderate intensity. My purpose here is to present simple and effective options for women wanting to gain strength. Here are my top suggestions:
Intensity is an exercise variable that everyone can control no matter where you work out or what equipment you use. Without intensity you simply will not get a great training effect. Proper intensity for resistance and/or strength training exercises is generally accepted as being able to successfully complete 8-15 repetitions per set of any given exercise, but never able to force 2+ more reps during any given set.
If you do 8 reps on a set of squats, but you know you could have done 12 or more, that is not proper intensity for effective strength training. Proper intensity, which you control, will actually challenge your muscles and help you build a lean, toned and fit body. You’re trying to find that “sweet spot dynamic” of the amount of weight/resistance you can properly press, pull, push, etc within the 8-15 rep margins. As you get stronger, you want to increase the intensity, so challenge yourself and make the adjustments.
Proper intensity can be leveraged by increasing the resistance and decreasing the number of reps accomplished, or by decreasing the time between sets and reps while using proper technique, and by the volume of exercises or length of your workout. The level of strength/balance difficulty of a particular exercise can raise the workout’s intensity also, but will not apply to the content of this article.
Proper frequency impacts your muscle recovery and growth both during your workout and the time between each workout session. The following workout splits will allow you to train your muscles with proper frequency. You will be stimulating a lot of muscle mass each training session so your metabolism will be elevated longer. The above Full-Body exercises are given as an idea of how to use your training time wisely and simply. My top exercise suggestions are integrated as graphics here.