Women can benefit from the strength and endurance you gain from weight training just as much as men do. But successful weight training is more than just lifting heavy. It’s about warming up, safely working with the weights, and can also include eating a balanced diet to complement your workouts.
These days, weights are incorporated into a lot of popular strength fitness classes, as well as mixed workouts incorporating strength and cardio training. So what is weight training, and is it worth getting into as a woman?
Weight training is a great way for women to stay active and build muscle! The different exercises in weight lifting using dumbbells, kettlebells, bodyweight exercises and resistance bands will allow you to target and strengthen whichever muscle groups you like, such as your back, arms, legs, or abdominals.
In this article, we’ll answer the top questions that you have about weight training for women. Read on to learn all about how strength training can benefit you!
What Are the Benefits of Weight Training for Women?
When you hear about weight training, many people initially think that it’s a fitness regimen designed for men. After all, isn’t it all about buff bodybuilders and lifting the heaviest weights possible?
But strength training is excellent for all genders and body types, and suits most fitness goals too.
Here are some of the incredible benefits of weight training for women:
Weight Training Increases Muscle Strength
Lifting weights builds more powerful muscles and helps you become more flexible and agile. This helps increase your athletic performance, especially if you compete in sports like gymnastics, bodybuilding, boxing, or wrestling.
But the benefits aren’t just in the gym; with consistent strength training exercises, your muscles grow stronger, allowing you to do everyday tasks with ease, like lifting grocery bags, playing with kids, climbing stairs, and reaching up or bending down to pick up objects.
Weight Training Makes Bones Stronger
Weight training puts bone-forming cells into action, increasing bone density and overall bone health. Stronger bones, including the joints and connective tissues, help reduce the risks of bone-related health conditions like osteoporosis and fractures.
Especially as women have a higher risk of osteoporosis, regular weight training helps protect your bone health long-term.
Weight Training Improves Cardiovascular Fitness
Weight training improves your cardio health by keeping your heart rate up and improves blood circulation. Weight training exercises open up blood vessels, increasing the heart’s capacity to pump blood in each heartbeat. This helps maintain healthy cholesterol levels, regulate blood sugar, and lower the risk of hypertension and other heart diseases.
Popular functional training styles like crossfit and circuit training use weight training as part of their routine alongside cardio exercises. This kind of mixed training style allows you to reap the benefits of both exercise types.
Weight Training Aids in Weight Loss
In weight training, your muscles use a lot of energy. As your body builds more muscle and increases bone density, it also burns more fat and calories. When you have less fat and more muscle in your body, your metabolic rate goes up and your body burns energy more efficiently.
Even in a resting state, your body spends energy for different functions, including balancing hormone levels, regulating blood circulation, and cellular growth and repair. Strength training not only burns calories, helping to achieve weight or fat loss goals, but studies show it also boosts metabolic rate for up to 72 hours afterwards.
Weight Training Enhances Brain Function
Regular weight training boosts brain power by increasing blood flow to the brain. The oxygen and nutrients carried through your blood help your overall brain function. In effect, your brain stimulates your body to produce neurotransmitters such as serotonin, which improve your mood, memory, and sleep. Your brain also prompts the pituitary gland to release more endorphins, which helps fight stress and boost your self-esteem.
What Happens to a Woman’s Body When She Lifts Weights?
When lifting weights as a woman, you gain muscle mass, and lean muscles replace the body fat that you burn. This helps you achieve a more toned body shape. Men have different hormones and get bulky more quickly when they lift weights because they have higher testosterone levels, unlike women.
Gaining muscle mass doesn’t mean your body becomes wider or bulkier. People often think of weightlifting as the go-to fitness training method if you want to bulk up, which is why some women are concerned about adding weightlifting to their fitness routine. But actually, lifting weights can help women tone up and reduce body fat instead of getting bulky, similar to the way resistance exercises like reformer pilates tones your body.
Just don’t forget that your diet and how often you train can also affect the way your body responds to weight training; paying attention to your calorie intake and calorie burn is always the key to weight loss. Overworking can be just as harmful as not working hard enough, so you should chat to a fitness trainer to work out a routine that’s right for you.
Alternatively, consider joining a group fitness class which uses weights, including kettlebells and bodyweight exercises. These can be more fun and provide more support when starting out.
How Should a Woman Start Lifting Weights?
The best way to get into weightlifting as a woman is to go to a gym and work with a PT. That way, you can make sure you’re safely doing effective exercises. Alternatively, you can try a strength training fitness class to get started as a beginner.
If you haven’t done weight training before, don’t be scared. With the proper technique and tools, it’s a safe and enjoyable way to build strength. If you don’t have a regular exercise routine, seeing out a strength-based fitness class can be a good way to start.
Check out what strength classes are available at your local gym: popular options worldwide include Les Mills GRIT Strength and Body Pump, but there are plenty of independent gyms running great classes too. Any workout that is strength-based, or combines strength and cardio, is a great way for a beginner to get started.
If you’re keen to get into weightlifting itself, getting the help of a gym instructor or personal trainer is the safest option. Your trainer will talk to you about your short-term and long-term fitness goals and give you a workout plan to follow.
If you want to lose weight and tone up, your workout routine will often include squats and curls, dumbbell presses and bench dips. If you want to improve muscle strength and endurance, you’ll probably start adding more heavy lifting exercises to your program.
Before you start with heavy weight lifting, consider getting these workout clothes to protect your body:
- Weightlifting shoes: The elevated heels, additional straps, and flat outsoles of weightlifting shoes provide optimal foot support
- Lifting belt: A weightlifting belt reduces pressure on the spine and lower back and keeps you in an upright position when lifting weights
- Weight Lifting gloves: A pair of weightlifting gloves will protect your palms from tears whilst providing a more stable grip
Here are some useful tips to keep in mind before lifting weights to avoid injury or putting too much stress on your muscles:
- Use your body weight as a reference when picking up your first set of kettlebells
- Do warm-up exercises to prep your muscles and reduce the chances of injury
- Start with 30-minute sessions twice a week before working your way up
- 12-15 rep sets are a good place to start
- Give yourself enough time to rest between sets
- Don’t push yourself too hard! Don’t forget the importance of a rest day
What Is Considered Lifting Heavy for a Woman?
Heavy lifting is a type of weight training that helps develop muscle strength and increases muscle size. When training heavy, sets typically include low reps and lifting heavier weights as the sets progress. The lower the number of reps and the heavier the weights are, the bigger the gains you get.
Doing up to five slow reps per set is a great way to get stronger. But if you want to build the size of your muscles, upping the speed and pushing your reps past ten per set is a great start. The more reps you do, the bigger your muscles will get!
How Much Weight Should a Woman Lift to Tone?
Anything up to a five-kilogram weight is a great way to get tighter, toned muscles as a woman. Ten to fifteen reps is the benchmark to work towards if a toned look is what you’re going for. However, it’s not just about the lifting; you’ll also need to add some cardio to your exercise program.
Don’t get too adventurous with your weights right away; it’s important to stay safe above all else. Know your own strength; if you’re very new to lifting weights, start with smaller ones and work your way up. By incorporating a healthy diet and adding some cardio to your routine, you’ll be able to lift those heavier weights in no time!
How Many Times a Week Should a Woman Lift Weights?
If you’re a female beginner, schedule weight training sessions three times a week at most to condition your muscles to your new workout regime. But like in any type of workout, consistency is key with weight training.
As you grow more accustomed, you can increase the load amount and change the number of reps according to your comfort level and desired difficulty. You can still mix up your workout routine with other cardio-based workouts or fitness classes.
You can go up to four sessions a week while increasing your load if you’ve been lifting for a while and know you can take on the extra day. Some people push for five or even six days a week, but you should only go for that if you’re sure you can handle it. Don’t forget to alternate the muscle groups you work on each day and give yourself enough time to rest and recover.
Weight lifting is a great way to build muscle, and lifting weights up to three times a week allows you to mix up your routine schedule. For your ‘off days’, consider taking a cardio fitness class or include another type of exercise like martial arts for fitness.
Can a Female Lose Weight by Lifting Weights?
One great benefit of lifting weights is weight loss, as weight lifting burns calories while helping you build leaner muscles. The good thing about working out with weights is that your metabolism remains elevated after your weight training session.
This means you could continue to burn calories even while resting, sleeping, or watching TV. For successful weight loss or fat loss, ensure your nutritional intake also works with your weightlifting program. A low-calorie diet will help you manage your weight more easily and allow your body to burn fat much more effectively.
How Long Does It Take To See Results From Lifting Weights?
You’ll be able to notice the results from lifting weights in six to eight months if you lift weights around three times a week. If you add cardio to your routine, you could see noticeable results in half that time.
Keep in mind that everyone’s body, exercise routine and metabolism are different, so you could see results sooner or later than that. The most important part is working hard and working consistently. You will see those results!
If you’ve just started weight training today, don’t expect to see noticeable changes in your body shape after one session. Building muscle takes time, not to mention that your body has to adapt to your new fitness routine. The number of times you work out per week, the type and intensity of weight training exercises you perform, your body type, and your fitness goal all affect how fast you see any improvement.
How Can a Woman Weight Train at Home?
Investing in some home gym equipment is the best way to weight train at home, especially if you don’t have time to hit a gym or there isn’t one nearby. If you’re on a budget or only have a small space for working out, you can use dumbbells and kettlebells to strengthen and tone your upper body.
You can also get resistance bands if you’re looking for versatility and varying levels of intensity in your workouts. A suspension trainer system also provides a great full-body resistance workout, adding to the exercises you can do, including lunges, squats, and pull-ups using gravity and your body.
If you’re willing to spend a bit more on workout equipment, you can get a home gym which includes a workout bench, cable and pulley machine, and leg press.
Weight training at home requires more discipline and commitment because you’re not working with a fitness instructor. Here are a few tips to keep in mind to get the results you want.
- Create a program and stick to it
- Don’t skip warm-up exercises
- Maintain the correct form
- Don’t overtrain or overexert your muscles
If you’re planning to work out at home, you’ll want to consider if it’s worth hiring a personal trainer or if you have the knowledge to train solo.
Will I Build Muscles with Just Body Weight Exercises?
Yes, bodyweight exercises, like press-ups, crunches, and squats, can help you build muscle size and strength. These exercises create tension that targets muscle groups and develops them over time, even without using equipment. However, before you make a bodyweight exercise routine, consider consulting with a fitness trainer to show you the correct way to do them to prevent injuries.
Is It Safe to Strength Train During Pregnancy?
It is safe to do some low-intensity strength training during pregnancy. Strength training while pregnant can reduce aches from your growing belly and prepare your body for labour. However, always consult with a trainer who specialises in training pregnant women.
Generally, lifting light and adding bodyweight exercises are recommended to avoid putting too much strain on your body.
When you reach your second or third trimester, avoid lifting weights above your head and doing any high-intensity exercises. You should also skip exercises that require you to lay flat on your back or bend forward at the waist or hips because they can affect the amount of blood that flows to the placenta.
Strength Training at Pretty Brave Fitness
If you want to get started on a weight lifting journey in a fun and safe environment, come join the team at Pretty Brave Fitness in Mandurah, WA. Our gym provides functional group training for the girls! We are a women’s only gym offering strength, cardio and mixed classes.
Pretty Brave Fitness provides a space for you to start your strength training journey with professional help and without the fear of judgement. Our gym will support you through your fitness journey and help you reach your goals.
To get started, sign up for a free 14-day trial today!
This article is published for general informational purposes only. It does not constitute medical advice and does not take into consideration your individual circumstances, medical conditions or abilities. Always consult a medical professional before beginning any program of exercise. A fitness industry professional can provide personalised advice to suit your needs.
Caity Dungey founded Pretty Brave Fitness in 2017 with one simple mission: giving everyday women the chance to be fitter and stronger, ready to tackle whatever life brings. Our workouts can be adjusted to challenge the fittest of gals or to go easy on first timers. As soon as you walk in the door, you’re a valued part of our fitness fam.