Fitness
Moderators: melkor


Strength training Ladies please help


Quote  |  Reply

Ok I'm ready!!

I would like to start strength training (for real this time I swear!) and would like to know how to begin. Cardio and pilates can only go so far. I want muscles!!

What is a good weight to begin with? No wussy 5lb girly weights for me!

How many sets? How many reps per set?

I will be using free weights. I do not have a bench so any suggestions there would be nice as well.

Thanks in advance, Red

PS Hi Amethyst! (Just assuming you will weigh in!) ---Oh Gods did I just make a pun?Frown I am terribly sorry please forgive!

42 Replies (last)

You can't go wrong with 5x5 or Starting Strength. Rippetoe (Starting Strength) has you start with an empty bar and add weight the first workout, but there's nothing wrong with staying with the bar for even the first few workouts to get the movement patterns locked in. However, no bench? What exactly do you have available: barbell & plates, dumbbells? squat rack, power cage, smith machine?

If you don't have a gym membership or access to a barbell and rack, then you might want to take a look at New Rules of Lifting for Women. 

I started out on stronglifts and can't say enough good things about it, but you need to be able to squat and deadlift and although you can do those with dumbbells, I think it's better to use a barbell. 

NROLFW involves more varied exercises, but I think there are more options to use dumbbells.  A lot of the women here use that program and work out at home without a barbell and squat rack/cage. 

Either way, the programs mentioned by cnichols or NROLFW are all excellent programs and provide you with lots of supporting information to ensure that you are performing the exercises with correct form. 

I started out with smaller weights and more reps and would recommend it to anyone just starting out. 

 

 

Original Post by tbajones:

I started out with smaller weights and more reps and would recommend it to anyone just starting out. 

Why?  I would actually recommend the opposite - challenging weights with good form, and reps in the range of 5-15.

Redcrow, that is great that you are ready for weights!  As others have said, the best way to start is to find a program (one that works with your equipment, especially).  NROLFW is great and very adaptable to different equipment. 

The weight you use will vary depending on the exercise you are doing, and the number of sets and reps prescribed by the program.  You should expect to lift more weight doing squats than shoulder presses, for example.  The weight should be challenging but not so heavy that you cannot keep proper form.  If the program you follow doesn't give enough guidance on form, there are tons of videos out there to help you (or you can always ask here!).

Sets and reps will also vary by program.  Some are 5x5 (5 sets of 5 reps), some are 3x5, some vary based on which phase of the program you are in. 

I'm also going to go with the New Rules books - I've done NROL4W 2 times and started it a 3rd time but quit when I got my NROL4 Abs book and was anxious to get started with that one.

I've also done NROL (original) I did the fat loss I II III the strength programs and then started the hypertrophy but managed to hurt myself on that one then I did Female Body Breakthrough ( workouts written by the wife of the w/o for NROL) and had good success with that one too.  I did the Stronglifts program but got bored with it after 2 months, cause the workouts don't change you just add weight and I need variety.

I am now doing NROL4Abs and loving it. Its a new challenge.  When I finish it I will look back and see if I'll repeat one of the others again or this one.  The last time I did NROL4W what I had done was put all the programs I had done into a hat and drew one and did it.

 

Original Post by redcrow9:


PS Hi Amethyst! (Just assuming you will weigh in!) ---Oh Gods did I just make a pun? I am terribly sorry please forgive!


I was just going to page her for you!

*A-girl to fitness, please. A-girl to fitness. Thank you*

She'll be here momentarily...

Hi Redcrow!  Ahhh strength training, my very favorite exercise activity!

I did not follow any special program, or fancy plan, I took advice from a trainer about reps and weight.  So if you want to go with a plan, by all means, whatever works for you, but me, personally, I do 3 sets of 10-12 reps with a 12 pound weight. 

The weight you use should be heavy enough that you have to work it and push for your last couple, but light enough that you aren’t struggling with the reps.  So yours may be different then mine!

Some good free weight exercises are:

The “Dumbbell Press”- hold the weights at your belt, palms facing up, lifting them to your shoulders, then turning them to have your palms face outwards as you lift them higher above your head.  Reverse it on the way down.

 The “Rear Delt Rise”- stand up straight holding two weights at your side, palms facing in, then lean forward until you are bent in half, straighten your arms out to the side with the weights, and lift until your arms are parallel to the floor, then bring them down again.

The “Concentration Curl”-  lift one weight at a time with your palm facing up at your belt, with the other weight held in the same position at your belt, slowly, meaningfully, and actually squeezing your bicep into the lift; once you actually develop muscle, this is the coolest exercise because it gives you a feel-awesome factor when you see your muscle everytime you squeeze!

The “Incline Chest Fly” - lay down on a workout bench, starting with your arms extended out with the weight beside you, and lifting them over your chest by bringing your arms in together.

Like I said, this isn’t from a program, but over the months I’ve been strength training I have increased my shoulder/chest measurement by 3.5 inches, and developed muscle… so I must be doing something right ;)

Good luck!  You will LOVE strength training!

Original Post by mjsophia:

Original Post by redcrow9:


PS Hi Amethyst! (Just assuming you will weigh in!) ---Oh Gods did I just make a pun? I am terribly sorry please forgive!


I was just going to page her for you!

*A-girl to fitness, please. A-girl to fitness. Thank you*

She'll be here momentarily...

 AG, please pick up the red phone...

Original Post by rpg_girl:

Hi Redcrow!  Ahhh strength training, my very favorite exercise activity!

I did not follow any special program, or fancy plan, I took advice from a trainer about reps and weight.  So if you want to go with a plan, by all means, whatever works for you, but me, personally, I do 3 sets of 10-12 reps with a 12 pound weight. 

The weight you use should be heavy enough that you have to work it and push for your last couple, but light enough that you aren’t struggling with the reps.  So yours may be different then mine!

Some good free weight exercises are:

The “Dumbbell Press”- hold the weights at your belt, palms facing up, lifting them to your shoulders, then turning them to have your palms face outwards as you lift them higher above your head.  Reverse it on the way down.

 The “Rear Delt Rise”- stand up straight holding two weights at your side, palms facing in, then lean forward until you are bent in half, straighten your arms out to the side with the weights, and lift until your arms are parallel to the floor, then bring them down again.

The “Concentration Curl”-  lift one weight at a time with your palm facing up at your belt, with the other weight held in the same position at your belt, slowly, meaningfully, and actually squeezing your bicep into the lift; once you actually develop muscle, this is the coolest exercise because it gives you a feel-awesome factor when you see your muscle everytime you squeeze!

The “Incline Chest Fly” - lay down on a workout bench, starting with your arms extended out with the weight beside you, and lifting them over your chest by bringing your arms in together.

Like I said, this isn’t from a program, but over the months I’ve been strength training I have increased my shoulder/chest measurement by 3.5 inches, and developed muscle… so I must be doing something right ;)

Good luck!  You will LOVE strength training!

 The advantage to following a program is that it has proven success - a track record.  An expert has taken all the guess work out of the process and you don't have to learn about how to create a balanced program that works all the muscles you need to work.  While some trainers are very knowledgeable about lifting, others are amazingly uninformed and don't know the first thing about coaching a trainee how to perform a proper squat.  So asking a trainer is not likely going to get you the results you will get from one of the programs we listed earlier.

Also, you really want to avoid exercises that focus on one or two muscle areas at a time and focus on smaller muscles only such as the ones suggested above (except for the dumbbell press).  You'll also notice that they only work the upper body, not the legs or glutes.  You get a much bigger bang for your buck both strength-wise and in terms of calorie burning and will see results all over from full body exercises like squats, deadlifts, presses/push-ups and rows/pull-ups/chin-ups. 

And, as awest said, you want to make sure that you are using heavy enough weights to challenge you and that you are increasing your weights periodically I go up at least 5 lbs every set (on squats/deadlifts) or every workout depending on how heavy I have gone.  That's how you gain strength. Using the same weight over and over or adding reps will do little for you in terms of getting stronger. 

Original Post by despinamb:

Also, you really want to avoid exercises that focus on one or two muscle areas at a time and focus on smaller muscles only such as the ones suggested above (except for the dumbbell press).  You'll also notice that they only work the upper body, not the legs or glutes.  You get a much bigger bang for your buck both strength-wise and in terms of calorie burning and will see results all over from full body exercises like squats, deadlifts, presses/push-ups and rows/pull-ups/chin-ups.  

...And, as awest said, you want to make sure that you are using heavy enough weights to challenge you and that you are increasing your weights periodically I go up at least 5 lbs every set (on squats/deadlifts) or every workout depending on how heavy I have gone.  That's how you gain strength. Using the same weight over and over or adding reps will do little for you in terms of getting stronger. 

My intention *was* to work only the upper body with strength training, which is why I focus on exercises with free weight that do just that.  I do lots of separate work for my lower body, aside from my weight training (I'm a member at a Goodlife Gym- I get a full body workout, and focus purely on strength training separately).  Though pushups are an excellent, excellent way to increase both mass and strength in the upper body, for sure!

And raising your weight as you go is a given; as your get stronger, you have to challenge yourself more, absolutely!  I have done that (didn't mention it in my post, I thought it was a given) :P  In the end, I put on muscle, and can now do things that I was too weak to do before- so getting stronger definitely happened.

Thanks for the advice, though!  But, for me personally, maybe I'm not getting the hard-core optimal strength training I would get from a regulated program, but my results have been very good, and I like what I do, so, there is no program in my future anytime soon.  I think it's preference, what you do, and what you expect to get from your results. 

Original Post by despinamb:

Original Post by mjsophia:

Original Post by redcrow9:


PS Hi Amethyst! (Just assuming you will weigh in!) ---Oh Gods did I just make a pun? I am terribly sorry please forgive!


I was just going to page her for you!

*A-girl to fitness, please. A-girl to fitness. Thank you*

She'll be here momentarily...

 AG, please pick up the red phone...

Oh hai Embarassed

Um... actually, cnichols, despinamb, and awestendorf summed it up nicely - pick a good program and get started. Over time, you'll get a better sense of what you prefer - the programs that keep the exercises and the rep schemes varied (like New Rules, also Female Body Breakthrough) or are strictly focused on weight progression (Starting Strength and Stronglifts).  I tend to alternate between the two types. Avoid programs that have lots of isolation movements or tell you to use a machine.

I think many women like the 'easing in' of New Rules - it starts off with basic lifts, and then mixes it up. But as despinamb shows, that's not universal and she did great going with Stronglifts. You aren't going to go wrong if you pick from one of these programs (and melkor has some more listed in the Fitness FAQs - mostly in the same genre as SS and Stronglifts, I think).

I think the one issue would be if you don't have a barbell - as far as I can remember, most of these need a barbell at some point (or completely, in the case of SS and Stronglifts). You say you don't have a bench - are you working out at home, and what do you have?

Original Post by amethystgirl:

Original Post by despinamb:

Original Post by mjsophia:

Original Post by redcrow9:


PS Hi Amethyst! (Just assuming you will weigh in!) ---Oh Gods did I just make a pun? I am terribly sorry please forgive!


I was just going to page her for you!

*A-girl to fitness, please. A-girl to fitness. Thank you*

She'll be here momentarily...

 AG, please pick up the red phone...

Oh hai

Um... actually, cnichols, despinamb, and awestendorf summed it up nicely - pick a good program and get started. Over time, you'll get a better sense of what you prefer - the programs that keep the exercises and the rep schemes varied (like New Rules, also Female Body Breakthrough) or are strictly focused on weight progression (Starting Strength and Stronglifts).  I tend to alternate between the two types. Avoid programs that have lots of isolation movements or tell you to use a machine.

I think many women like the 'easing in' of New Rules - it starts off with basic lifts, and then mixes it up. But as despinamb shows, that's not universal and she did great going with Stronglifts. You aren't going to go wrong if you pick from one of these programs (and melkor has some more listed in the Fitness FAQs - mostly in the same genre as SS and Stronglifts, I think).

I think the one issue would be if you don't have a barbell - as far as I can remember, most of these need a barbell at some point (or completely, in the case of SS and Stronglifts). You say you don't have a bench - are you working out at home, and what do you have?

Yeah, you're here! And yes, the other girls did great, too!

A-g, can you post a simple example of your weekly exercise routine (since you alternate b/w a few styles)?

Also, OP I don't have a workout bench at home either, but I use my storage chest...if that helps you come up with ideas.

Oh, sorry - I wasn't clear. I meant that when I finish a program, I'll often pick the other kind to do next. So I'm doing NROLFW right now (starting Stage 3 tonight), but when I get through the whole program, I might do SS or SL next, rather than doing FBB or restarting NROLFW.

Once I'm doing a program, I stick with it, unless I'm going on travel or something where I need to do something different. If I'm feeling very motivated, on my non-lifting days I'll try out different things like R. Cosgrove's Get Metabolic workout, or hill sprints. Or if I don't have time to lift, but I want to do something.  Sully made up a sandbag workout that we'll do sometimes when the weather permits - essentially sprints carrying a sandbag, with a leg matrix at the end (while holding the sandbag).

If redcrow doesn't have a bench or a barbell, she could try something like what I posted here. She could pick two exercises from the upper and two from the lower body sections to do one day, then the remaining 4 exercises the other day - rotate between those two workouts, with a day of rest (or cardio) in between.

That's interesting you mention the sandbag sprints. I was thinking of starting running up my stairs carrying weights (I don't have a yard). Not sure exactly what part of my body that would target, but it would be hard.  I was walking up our hilly driveway this morning and I got winded. You'd think I'd get used to walking it after 4 years, but noooooo.

I see what you're saying now about altering workouts after you complete them. It makes sense. 

Original Post by mjsophia:

That's interesting you mention the sandbag sprints. I was thinking of starting running up my stairs carrying weights (I don't have a yard). Not sure exactly what part of my body that would target, but it would be hard.

Better question - which part of your body wouldn't it target? :)

We have a start and an end mark, and have to carry the bag to and fro, holding it in different ways each lap, and we time how long it takes us to complete it.

I think we do (it's been a little while since we tried it): hold against chest, at your side (each arm gets one full lap), on your shoulder (again, each side gets a full lap), held overhead (that one is a killer), then holding it at your chest, but running/skipping sideways (I think we just did one lap for that - leading on one foot on the way out, the other foot on the way back).

So 7 laps total.

I've beaten Sully, but his sandbag is about 3x heavier than mine - I think mine is ~10lb.

Thanks everyone. I think I'll try NROLFW to start.

I actually do not have any lifting equipment. So I thought I would get some advice on exercises and/or programs and build my home gym from there.

Thanks again!  Here I come ebay!

 

Original Post by redcrow9:

Thanks everyone. I think I'll try NROLFW to start.

I actually do not have any lifting equipment. So I thought I would get some advice on exercises and/or programs and build my home gym from there.

Thanks again!  Here I come ebay!

 

 Try freecycle or craigslist for used equipment.  Freecycle stuff is just that "free" stuff people just want out of their houses.  I also like places like "play it again sports" or other resale shops.  Try local thrift stores. 

I wish I had room to build a home gym but right now I live in a tiny studio in the basement of a little old ladies house.  Barely enough room for me, my computer and bed!!

Original Post by redcrow9:

Thanks everyone. I think I'll try NROLFW to start.

I actually do not have any lifting equipment. So I thought I would get some advice on exercises and/or programs and build my home gym from there.

Thanks again!  Here I come ebay!

 

When I was working out at home I got some adjustable dumbbells from walmart.  The weights screw onto the bars and there's a little lock nut that keeps them on - they adjust between - 10 and 20 lbs, I think the bar weighs 5lbs itself  They cost about 20- 30$.  I feel like those were really the best deal and were the most practical.  You might also want to get a barbell, depending on how much room you have an how fast you think you are going to advance. 

Walmart had 97 cent shipping so they were a good deal. 

I have also gotten a lot of stuff from freecycle or from off the street - swiss ball and aerobic step. 

I do the classic Firm workouts for my strength training vol. 1 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Upi51Fj0pSM) and vol. 2 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gnJZln1qSCc)  

I started out using low weights and after about a year have worked my way up to using 5lb weights for my lights during iron aerobics, 8-10 lb weights for my mid weight, and 12-15 lb weights for my heavy weight.  I just keep my five sets of free weights stacked in a corner of my living room and pull them out when I'm ready to exercise.  I don't know about the newer stuff from the Firm, I don't really like it, but the old school workouts are killer and I notice results immediately, each time I work out.

Can you get some kettlebells?? These are my favourite and by far most effective weight training tools. Even if you start with 4kg's - you'll feel it the next day (and the day after!) - not only will they work your cardio but are exceptional toning equipment for thighs, butt, stomach, arms, (OK, your whole body)! 

I started on a 8kg and now frequently use 12 / 16 after I've warmed up.  And the best part - only 30 - 40 minutes 3 or 4 times per week!  I lost about 12kg's and 4 dress sizes doing kettlebells regularly

Try it!!

42 Replies (last)
Advertisement
Advertisement
Allergy Remedies
Is It Possible to Go Natural?
The side effects of allergy medications keep some people from using them. Natural remedies can be a great alternative, but some are more effective than others.