Some women have a fear of the weight room at their gym. Many women and personal trainers as well believe that if a woman works out in the weight room they will end up with a bulky manly physique. Myths like this are giving resistance training a bad name.
As personal trainers we have to remember that men and women are physiologically different. Men in fact increase muscle mass due to testosterone. While it is true that women also secrete and deliver testosterone just like men do, women do it at slower rates and much less volume.
This slower and lower dose of testosterone allows women to build a more tone and lean muscle while also increasing metabolism to aid in weight loss. Most women start an exercise program to lose weight and look better, but there is more to it than this. Resistance training has many benefits that will help women’s health, both now and in the future. Looking good is great, but exercise can do so much more for a women’s long-term health. Resistance training may also decrease day-to-day stresses from our fast paced lifestyles.
Stress is a very dangerous and often overlooked factor that can lead to decreased motivation and eventual increase in body fat. Studies have shown that proper exercise can cut stress dramatically. Another often overlooked health issue for women is bone mineral density (BMD). Because of a higher level of estrogen, women are at a higher risk of low bone mineral density than men. A consistent resistance training program can increase BMD in women and dramatically reduce the possibility of osteopenia and/or osteoporosis. A well planned resistance training program can also help posture, balance, flexibility and stability for all ages. These are all very important daily and long-term health.
Cardio vs. Weight Training
Anaerobic exercise may lead to to an increase of metabolism, but aerobic exercise is important too. Aerobic training is very important for the cardiovascular system (“heart health”). Some people have trouble combining cardio and resistance training. First, if the trainee wants to increase power and strength than including cardio exercises can make all the difference. This is because of an increase in the muscle capillary density, increased number of mitochondria, and a possible change in fiber type.
Additionally, if a trainee that wants to increase their aerobic power can do this by combining both cardio workouts with resistance training. This will allow for an increase in aerobic power due to an increase in VO^2 Max. VO^2 Max is the amount of oxygen exchange within a muscle for adequately supplying and keeping the muscle cells functioning properly.
For weight management and exercise in general, the goal is to combine both types of exercise by using circuit training. Circuit training will allow a trainee to increase their aerobic and anaerobic power by incorporating moderate to high intensity exercises with resistance training. This will keep your heart rate up and increase your metabolic rate.
Resistance Training Program Design For Women
A proper program design is specific to the person being trained. Each trainee will begin at different levels based on their condition, so a custom tailored exercise program is very important. Each exercise program should begin with some sort of active warm-up regime to help stimulate proper muscle activation for your workout.
To circuit train effectively, three to four multi-muscle, functional workouts are grouped together to optimize your heart rate and aerobic and anaerobic power output. Between 2 to 4 sets and 10 to 15 reps of approximately 3 or 4 exercises are performed in a continuous cycle with little rest (30 seconds to 1 minute after completing each cycle of the 3 to 4 exercises).
Each group of three to four exercises may primarily target different areas of the body. After the warm-up, the first group of exercises may focus on legs. The second group may focus on the upper body, and the third may focus on the core muscles. This exercise structure can help save time and effort with a busy schedule and may also maximize overall fitness results. Ending each workout with a form of static stretching may also be a good idea. Static stretching after exercise can keep the joints from getting too tight.