I've been in the fitness industry for about 20 years, and it's interesting to me how, after all these years, I am approached with the same questions. This question about lifting weights and gaining muscle in particular has been a big concern for a lot of my female clients.
I'm going to answer your questions from not only a research and science perspective but trial and error as well. I've applied this thought process and have been delivering results for some of the sexiest women you will see on the red carpet. So I think it's worth a shot. A couple things to think about, ladies:
Muscle is anabolic and demands more energy. Basically, the more muscle we can focus on developing, the more calories we will burn. I've never seen a woman with an amazing physique who just uses the elliptical or treadmill all day. Resistance training is a necessity for not only building a quality physique but reducing the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and it's a great way to fight osteoporosis.
Women have much lower testosterone levels than men, which causes them to respond differently to exercise. I could put a female on the same exact weight training program as myself and we will have two completely different responses.
As a male, I also consume many more calories than a female. This is also another key factor as to why a woman will not have the same response as I will. Putting on muscle is already difficult, especially for the majority of us who are doing it naturally without performance enhancing substances. A 5-10 pound muscle increase in a year is outstanding, so this seems to be a pretty slow process as is.
Most of the time, women aren't going to generate as much force while resistance training as a male. Sorry ladies, don't get mad at me for that comment, but I'm trying to convince you to pick up a weight and not be afraid that you're going to get bigger.
Improving functional strength is also just going to make you feel better. It will make you more dynamic in the way you move, especially if you get started on a good program like one I use with my clients. Remember, a weak body or a weak link in the body can lead to injury. So, in the long run, your body will be a lot happier down the road because you opted to be strong.
In closing, I'm going to leave you with some really simple steps to follow to get you started. Even if you are not a beginner, this is worth a try: Remember, simplicity is key and a lot of times, the sexy, complex exercises are just not needed. This quick program could be done in roughly twenty minutes and if it takes longer: No worries, be patient, take your time. It's all good.
• Split Squat 2-3 sets of 8-10 reps
• Push Up (or elevated push up) 2-3 sets of 8-10 reps
• RDL (Romanian Dead Lift) 2-3 sets of 8-10 reps
• Dumbbell Row 2-3 sets of 8-10 reps
• Side Plank 2-3 sets for 10-30 seconds
You don't necessarily need a gym for this. Basically all you need is a pair of dumbbells and you're good to go. Do this program three days a week to start. As for your cardio, well, that's in the next blog... stay tuned.