Eight of The Best Strength Training Workouts For Women

8 Of The Best Strength Training Workouts For Women

Strength training, also known as resistance training or weight training, is a type of physical exercise designed to improve muscular fitness by using resistance or weights to induce muscular contraction. The primary goal of strength training is to increase muscle strength, endurance, and muscle mass.

“Strength training in my opinion is one of the best things that we can do. I call it, “the fountain of youth.” It’s beneficial because it builds muscle mass, increases metabolism, improves bone density, and enhances overall strength and functional fitness.” Jamie Alexander

In This Strength Training Guide

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Key Takeaways

Benefits of Strength Training: Strength training, also known as resistance or weight training, is vital for women of all ages and fitness levels. It improves muscle strength, endurance, and overall health, making it an integral part of any fitness regimen.

Effective Workouts: Incorporating targeted exercises like squats, lunges, deadlifts, push-ups, pull-ups, rows, glute bridges, and planks into your routine can maximize results. These exercises target major muscle groups and enhance muscle tone, strength, and functionality.

Frequency and Consistency: Aim to perform strength training workouts 2-3 times per week, allowing for adequate rest and recovery between sessions. Consistency is key to seeing progress, prioritize proper form and gradually increase intensity over time.

Best Strength Training Workouts

Courtesy of Shelley Darlington

Strength training is an integral part of any fitness plan, offering many benefits for women of all ages and fitness levels. Whether you’re aiming to build muscle, increase strength, or improve overall health, including effective strength training workouts into your routine makes magic. 

Here are some of the best strength training exercises tailored specifically for women:

Squats

  • Target Muscles: Quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and core.
  • How-To: Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, lower your body by bending your knees and pushing your hips back as if you’re sitting down. Keep your chest up and back straight. Return to the starting position by pressing through your heels.

Lunges

  • Target Muscles: Quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and core.
  • How-To: Step forward with one leg and lower your body until both knees are bent at a 90-degree angle, ensuring your front knee does not extend past your toes. Push through your front heel to return to the starting position and repeat on the other side.

Deadlifts

  • Target Muscles: Hamstrings, glutes, lower back, and core.
  • How-To: Stand with feet hip-width apart, holding a barbell or dumbbells in front of your thighs with an overhand grip. Hinge at the hips while keeping your back straight, lowering the weight toward the floor. Engage your glutes and hamstrings to return to the starting position.

Push-ups

  • Target Muscles: Chest, shoulders, triceps, and core.
  • How-To: Start in a plank position with hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Lower your body by bending your elbows until your chest nearly touches the ground. Push back up to the starting position while maintaining a straight line from head to heels.

Pull-ups or Assisted Pull-ups

  • Target Muscles: Back, biceps, and shoulders.
  • How-To: Grip an overhead bar with hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Pull your body upward until your chin clears the bar, then lower yourself back down with control. Modify with an assisted pull-up machine or resistance band if needed.

Dumbbell or Barbell Rows

  • Target Muscles: Upper back, including the rhomboids, traps, and rear deltoids.
  • How-To: Hold a dumbbell or barbell with an overhand grip, hinge at the hips with a slight bend in the knees, and lower the weight toward the floor. Pull the weight toward your chest, squeezing your shoulder blades together, then lower it back down with control.

Glute Bridges or Hip Thrusts

  • Target Muscles: Glutes, hamstrings, and core.
  • How-To: Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Lift your hips toward the ceiling by pressing through your heels until your body forms a straight line from shoulders to knees. Lower back down with control and repeat.

Planks

  • Target Muscles: Core, shoulders, chest, and glutes.
  • How-To: Start in a forearm plank position with elbows directly beneath shoulders and body in a straight line from head to heels. Hold this position, engaging your core muscles, for the desired duration.

Adding strength training exercises into your workout routine 2-3 times per week, allowing for adequate rest and recovery between sessions. Start with lighter weights and gradually increase the intensity as you become stronger and more comfortable with the movements. 

Remember to prioritize proper form and technique to maximize effectiveness and reduce the risk of injury. With consistency and dedication, you can achieve your strength training goals and improve your overall health and fitness as a woman.

Will Strength Training Make You Bulky?

Strength training, when done properly, will not necessarily make you bulky, especially as a woman. Many women fear that lifting weights will cause them to develop large muscles and a bulky appearance. However, this is a misconception.

Women typically have lower levels of testosterone compared to men, which is a hormone that plays a significant role in muscle growth. As a result, women are less likely to develop bulky muscles from strength training alone. Instead, strength training can help women build lean muscle mass, increase strength, and achieve a toned physique.

How To Achieve a Lean Physique

The degree to which someone becomes bulky from strength training depends on various factors, including genetics, diet, training intensity, and frequency. For most women, strength training will lead to improved muscle tone, enhanced metabolism, and a more defined physique rather than excessive muscle mass.

Remember that everyone’s body responds differently to exercise, so results may vary from person to person. Additionally, you have control over your training program, so you can adjust the intensity and volume of your workouts to align with your specific goals. 

Tailoring Your Strength Training Approach

If your goal is to avoid becoming bulky, you can focus on higher repetitions with lighter weights or resistance and incorporate cardiovascular exercise into your routine to achieve a lean and toned physique.

Strength training is a valuable component of a well-rounded fitness program for women and should not be avoided out of fear of becoming bulky. With proper training, nutrition, and consistency, strength training can help you improve your overall health, fitness, and body composition without leading to excessive muscle mass.

How Often Should You Do Strength Training?

The frequency of strength training workouts depends on various factors, including your fitness goals, current fitness level, schedule, and recovery ability. However, a general guideline for most individuals, including women, is to aim for 2-3 strength training workouts per week.

Here’s why this frequency is often recommended:

  1. Adequate Recovery: Strength training places stress on your muscles, causing tiny tears in the muscle fibers. These tears need time to repair and grow stronger, which is why rest days between workouts are crucial. Working out too frequently without proper rest can lead to overtraining and increased risk of injury.
  2. Consistency: Consistency is key to seeing progress in strength training. By scheduling regular workouts throughout the week, you can maintain momentum and stay on track towards your fitness goals.
  3. Balanced Program: Incorporating strength training into your routine alongside other forms of exercise, such as cardiovascular training or flexibility exercises, allows for a well-rounded fitness program that addresses various aspects of health and fitness.
  4. Optimal Muscle Stimulation: By spacing out your strength training sessions throughout the week, you give your muscles enough time to recover and adapt to the stimulus provided by each workout. This helps maximize muscle growth, strength gains, and overall performance.

Listen to your body and adjust your training frequency as needed. If you’re new to strength training or have a particularly intense workout, you may need more rest days between sessions to allow for adequate recovery. 

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On the other hand, if you’re an experienced lifter or focusing on different muscle groups each session, you may be able to train more frequently.

The key is to find a balance that works for you and allows you to make progress while still prioritizing recovery and overall well-being. It’s also important to vary your workouts and include different exercises to target all major muscle groups effectively. 

Consulting with a certified personal trainer can also help you design a customized strength training program tailored to your specific goals and needs.

Will Strength Training Help You Lose Weight?

Yes, strength training can be an effective component of a weight loss plan. While cardiovascular exercise like running or cycling is often associated with weight loss due to its calorie-burning nature, strength training also plays a crucial role in achieving and maintaining a healthy weight.

Here’s how strength training can help with weight loss:

  1. Increased Muscle Mass: Strength training helps build and maintain lean muscle mass. Muscles are metabolically active tissues, meaning they burn calories even at rest. By increasing muscle mass through strength training, you can boost your metabolism and increase the number of calories your body burns throughout the day.
  2. EPOC Effect: After a strength training workout, your body continues to burn calories at an elevated rate as it works to repair and rebuild muscle tissue. This phenomenon, known as excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) or the “afterburn” effect, can lead to additional calorie expenditure in the hours following your workout.
  3. Improved Insulin Sensitivity: Strength training can improve insulin sensitivity, which is how effectively your body responds to insulin and regulates blood sugar levels. Better insulin sensitivity can lead to more stable blood sugar levels and reduced risk of insulin resistance, a condition associated with weight gain and obesity.
  4. Enhanced Fat Loss: While cardiovascular exercise primarily burns calories during the workout, strength training can lead to ongoing fat loss by promoting the use of stored fat as a fuel source, particularly during periods of rest and recovery.
  5. Body Composition Changes: While the number on the scale may not change dramatically, strength training can lead to significant changes in body composition, including reductions in body fat and increases in muscle mass. This can result in a leaner, more toned appearance, even if your weight remains relatively stable.

It’s essential to note that weight loss ultimately comes down to creating a calorie deficit, which means burning more calories than you consume. While strength training can help increase calorie expenditure and improve body composition, it’s important to combine it with a balanced diet and other forms of exercise for optimal results.

Strength training can be a valuable tool for weight loss by increasing metabolism, promoting fat loss, and improving overall body composition. Incorporating regular strength training workouts into your fitness routine, along with healthy eating habits, can help you achieve your weight loss goals and maintain long-term success.

Conclusion

Strength training offers numerous benefits for women, including improved muscle strength, endurance, and overall health. 

Despite misconceptions, it won’t necessarily lead to bulkiness. Adding exercises like squats, lunges, deadlifts, and push-ups 2-3 times per week is optimal. These workouts not only enhance physique but also support weight loss by boosting metabolism and promoting fat loss. 

With consistency and proper technique, strength training can help you achieve your fitness goals and lead to a healthier life.

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