Fitness Friday – Strength Training Basics for Women

Strength Training for Women title image

Strength training is by far the most effective way to supercharge your weight loss and maximize the returns of those many hours spent on your fitness program.

I loved your enthusiastic response to my post last week where I share why I believe every woman should incorporate strength training in her workout routine and am excited about the number of you who are ready to commit to strength training!

Many of you also reached out to me asking for pointers on getting started and I am happy to share a few pointers with you today.

One of the first things I encourage you to do before you begin a new strength training program is to consult a personal trainer. When it comes to lifting weights especially, proper posture and execution is crucial, not only to get the results you are looking for, but most importantly to prevent injury.  A personal trainer will work with you to establish clear goals and create a customized program to set you on the path to success.

A personal trainer will also demonstrate proper technique for all the moves you want to incorporate in your strength training program and teach you modifications if needed.  I know personal trainers aren’t cheap but remember you are investing in yourself and you are more than worth it. Keep in mind that one hour will cost far less than the consequences of poor technique that could lead to hefty medical bills and lost days at work.

Here are some of the pointers I share with all my clients:

Train Smart!

You want to work out as efficiently as possible so choose exercises that are easy to learn and yield the highest return.   I like exercises that work several muscle groups at the same time in a new and in depth way so you build strength faster and burn the maximum amount of calories.  Anything new has a learning curve and you want to keep your learning curve as short as possible so you can start to feel stronger fast.  This will grow your confidence and encourage you to build momentum and keep coming back. A bicep curl is a fairly easy move to learn, though arm placement and muscle isolation is important, but the return fairly small. You’re building up one muscle.  A properly executed set of push ups which require complete body engagement will build up your upper body strength while strengthening your core and legs.

Don’t overdo it!

It’s easy to over train when you get started. You’re exited and your adrenaline is pumping. But ease into weight training as you would with anything else. I always tell my clients that the fastest way to give up on any program is to do too much too fast. Although you feel strong and quickly realize you can push further than you ever expected, strength training places high demands on your muscles and leads to a lot of tiny micro-tears. And yes, those hurt!  And trust me if you are too sore to do anything for days after your workout, you’ll find yourself coming up with all sorts of excuses not to go back to the gym for your second session. Strength training is empowering so give yourself a chance to feel its power. Ease into

Build Up Your Strength Slowly

When you first get started you might lift a 20 pound weight with seemingly little effort and be tempted to use this weight for your workout.  Be careful! It’s better to start with smaller weights and focus on form and performance than to struggle to execute your moves properly with heavier weights. Build your strength up progressively. For the first few weeks to months, you’ll be adding reps and progressively increasing weight but you should be primarily focused on proper form and consistency.  That is your fastest path to a stronger, leaner, more tone physique.

Go at Your Own pace

Everybody progresses differently so don’t worry about anyone else around you.  You will experience periods of rapid growth followed by slower ones.  You might feel comfortable and empowered as soon as your first session, or struggle and feel intimidated. Remember you are building life long habits so do whatever you need to stay on track and committed. Test your limits and find the right pace for you. Don’t do too much too fast but don’t hold back either.   Find your groove and enjoy it!

Grab a Buddy!

Training with a partner is so much more fun than training alone. Unless, of course, you’re the type that likes to get in the zone and blocks out all distractions.

Celebrate Your Accomplishments!

Most women shy away from weight training because they are intimidated by it and don’t believe they are strong enough to do it. One of the most rewarding aspects of introducing women to strength training is when they realize how strong they really are.  When you shift your focus from how you look to how you feel a whole new world opens up. You suddenly gain a new level of respect for yourself and your body.  You walk differently, approach tasks with more zest and peers with a twinkle in your eye.  Yes you are a Rock Star so celebrate your awesomeness!!!

REST!

Strength training can easily become addictive and you’ll be tempted to rush back to the gym and do it all over again. Remember rest by taking days off in between training sessions and getting a good night’s sleep on the days you train. Sleep is when your body goes to work mending all the damaged tissue so don’t cut yourself  short.  And remember hydration and proper fuel are equally important.

Are you ready to pump some iron?

Let’s do it!!!

Let me know if you’d like some weight training workout suggestions and I’d be happy to post a handful.

 

About Valerie 

Valerie Remy-Milora is the mother of 3 amazing girls, an author, public speaker, coach and founder of Scrumptious Moms. She is passionate about empowering moms to embrace self care and live a vibrant, joyful life with their loved ones. A health and fitness nut, she is an advocate for chemical-free living, real food and GMO labeling. She believes in the sanctity of life from conception to natural death.

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Comments

  1. Great tips and suggestions. I would much rather lift weights than do cardio.

    • I would probably have to agree with you Kim 🙂 I LOVE strength training and HIIT workouts but don’t do much straight cardio anymore. I do love a really good 4 to 5 mile run once in a while though… so therapeutic!

  2. I am not a big fan of exercise if I’m being totally honest. However, strength training sounds like something that I just might enjoy. Thanks for sharing your tips!

  3. Great tips. I find it hard to do strength training because I have neck and shoulder injuries.

    • Have you ever worked with a personal trainer Cindy? They should be able to recommend exercises that not only won’t strain your neck or shoulders but might even strengthen and stabilize both and bring with it pain relief. All the best to you! Let me know if I can help in any way 🙂

  4. I love your posts.. I’ve used a lot of your Fitness tips and routines. This will be one of them!

  5. I would love to get into strength training, currently I try to aim for three days of cardio.

    • That’s awesome Katie but I totally encourage you to add the strength training. If all you have for fitness is three days a week, swap the cardio out for strength training on your middle day. I promise you won’t regret it! You’ll feel and see great results fairly quickly 🙂

  6. Heather S says:

    This is really helpful. I recently began a regular exercise regime and these tips are wonderful!

    • Yay! Congrats on getting started with a regular exercise program Heather! I wish you much success and please reach out if you have questions. I may not always have answers but I’m always happy to help you find them 🙂

  7. Alyssa Emmett says:

    I love this post! I also believe it so important to incorporate strength training in a women’s workout. We should be able to at least do a pull-up or two.

  8. Judy Thomas says:

    Great tips, thank you.It’s not easy getting fit.

    • You are most welcome Judy…. You’re right it is not easy, but it is so worth it and the more you stay committed the more enjoyable and easier it gets! Keep it up! I’m rooting for you 🙂

  9. Gloria Walshver says:

    My form of exercise is yoga and zumba and stretch and tone.

    • Sounds like you have a wonderful balanced schedule Gloria! I teach Zumba and it is so much fun! Stretching is also so important and another aspect of fitness far too many people omit altogether. I’m so glad you include that in your fitness activities 🙂

  10. I’ve always enjoyed strength training, it made me not only feel stronger but I felt better mentally too!

    • That is such a good point Barrie and I totally agree! It brings me clarity and energy and I do believe there are studies showing all sorts of benefits to the brain from strength training. You’ve inspired me to do a little research 🙂

  11. I have never tried strength training. Have a hard to exercising these days due to neuropathy.

    • Oh I am so sorry Terry and I feel your pain. My 19 year old suffers from postherpetic neuralgiaas a results of getting the shingles when she was in 8th grade… It’s not exactly the same thing as neuropathy but it interferes with exercise a lot, especially in the cold. I wish you all the best. Have you consulted a personal trainer who specializes in working with clients with disabilities? They often are able to suggest modifications or entirely new exercises that you can be successful with, even with your neuropathy.

  12. Megan L says:

    I’ve started lifting weights in the past two months and I have to say I love it. I’ve never felt so strong. It definitely beats running.

  13. laurie damrose says:

    Thank you for the helpful beginner tips.

  14. Mesha Goddess says:

    This is a very informative article, I definitely need to get in the gym

  15. Isabel Marsh says:

    I really need to start doing strength training. Thanks for this post!

  16. Violet Aeron says:

    this was really helpful

  17. Nancy Burgess says:

    I think I’d like the strength training. Thanks for all the great tips..

  18. thanks for this great training basics for women to start with. I think i am ready to start when i recover from surgery first i have to listen to the last tip Rest 😉 which is also diffucult if you mind say yes and the body says no

    • Oh Miranda I hear you! I love that you are listening to your body though… Far too many people ignore their bodies and overdo it. REST is the foundation of health. We all could use a lot more rest. It is when we sleep that our bodies repair, hormones are balanced and our brains recharged… I wish you a speedy recovery and much success as you get back on track with training. Please reach out if I can be of any help 🙂

  19. I have never tried strength training before. Thanks for sharing this.

  20. I love these fitness posts! It definitely helps to keep my motivated and reminds me to keep myself safe. Thanks for the tips!

  21. Lisa Coomer Queen says:

    These were awesome tips! Thank you for sharing them.

  22. Heather Robertson says:

    Don’t overdo it is something I need to keep in mind if I want to be able to walk in the next 4 days after a work out! Thanks for posting!

    • Haha I need those reminders every now and then Heather 🙂 It’s so easy to get caught up in the moment and feel like superwoman. It’s so empowering! But yes, easing into things is much more rewarding in the long run. To your success!!

  23. Thanks for the tips! This was good motivation to get exercising!

  24. Thanks for the tips! This is good motivation to start moving!

  25. clojo9372 says:

    I am not a fan of cardio, but I do it because I know I should and because of the high calorie burn. But I think I am really burning out by overdoing it. I’m definitely going to incorporate more strength training in my workouts. 🙂

    • Yay Clojo! Honestly, all the research from the past decade or so is showing that straight cardio is not the most effective way to get fit or lose weight. HIIT type workouts that incorporate cardio with strength training are much kinder to your body and yield far greater results. I love that you are adding strength training to your fitness regiment. I know you’ll be happy with the results 🙂

  26. michele soyer says:

    I used to do strength training when I was much younger but not now so I passed this info on to my daughter and she loved it!

    • Why aren’t you strength training any longer Michele? I’m sure your daughter will benefit from these tips but I also believe there is no age at which you no longer need to strength train. The way you go about it and the amount of weight you work with will need to be adjusted perhaps, but you can keep strength training and weight training well into … well… Have you seen the videos of Ernestine Shepherd? She’s an 80 year old woman who is still competing in weight lifting competitions! (https://youtu.be/O_01VlQzN7s) You don’t need to be that hard core but there’s really no reason to ever stop 🙂

  27. MichelleS says:

    It definitely helps when you have someone alongside you to keep things moving along.

    • You are so right Michelle! I am so grateful to my work out buddies. They keep me motivated to always do my best, celebrate every day I show up no matter what and keep me accountable in the most awesome ways!

  28. Fantastic tips I needed to be reminded of as I start strength training in earnest again. Thanks!

    • Woohoo Linda! I wish you all the best and I am thrilled you found these tips useful. Strength training is so important and oh so rewarding! Enjoy the process … And the results!!! 🙂

  29. Dina Vulgari says:

    useful information thanks

  30. Jo-Ann Brightman says:

    These are great tips. I know I would have to start slowly to incorporate more strength training in my exercises. I can tell that I have lost strength.

  31. Christina A. says:

    Great tips! Grabbing a buddy is a big one for me…I exercise a few times weekly now with our neighbor and it is so much more fun that way!

    • A buddy is such an asset Christina! I’m a personal trainer and group fitness instructor so I LOVE to workout but I much prefer doing my own workouts with a friend or two. It not only keeps me accountable it just makes it so much more enjoyable and it’s so fun to celebrate out mutual accomplishments together!!

  32. Build up SLOWLY and get plenty of REST!

  33. Thank you for the helpful tips.

  34. Amber Ludwig says:

    Great tips!! Rest especially is so important!! Can’t build muscles if you spend the whole time destroying them 😉

  35. Terry Poage says:

    Thanks for sharing these instructions. I need to start doing something.

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