Ten Ways for Women To Progress in Weight
Women face different challenges than men when lifting
weights and doing other kinds of strength
training. A woman I met at a summer barbecue told
me she started a weight lifting program but stopped
after only a short while. When I asked her why, she
responded that increasing weight each time she worked
out was too hard --she couldn't do it. It hurt.
The goal of strength training is to get stronger and
healthier and to improve your appearance. The body
must always be challenged in any weight training
routine, otherwise you will start to see declining
results. But it should never hurt. It should never be
We have listed several ways in which you can increase
strength by your workout. You have a number of
options from which to choose.
1. Increase Weight
most common and effective way to challenge your body
is to increase the weight you are lifting. This alone
will keep your body challenged for a good while.
Each muscle is comprised of numerous muscle fibers,
and the more weight you lift, the more muscle fibers
are recruited for the job, and the more your body gets
a full workout.
When we increase weight, we should
always be vigilant about performing the exercise with
proper form. If that form is compromised during a
weight increase, it may be that your body is telling
you it needs a different method of getting to the same
result. Some alternative methods when we are not
ready to increase weight are described below.
The standard range is to
perform 8-12 repetitions of a movement in one set.
Do not exceed that maximum range. There is no weight
training benefit to doing more than 12 reps per set
unless you are in physical rehabilitation from an
3. Increase Number of
Normally you perform 2-3 sets per
exercise. If youíve done two sets at the same weight,
increase to three.
4. Increase Frequency of
If you are working out two times a
week, increase to three, if three times, then four.
You should, however, not weight train more than two
days in a row unless you're training requires it(for
instance, if your are a bodybuilder). Your muscles
get stronger, not during the workout phase, but during
the rest phase.
5. Increase Intensity of
There are two ways to increase
intensity without increasing weight - super sets and
exercising two opposing muscle groups by
following one exercise immediately with another. For
example, do a set of dumbbell bicep curls, then,
without a rest period, do a set of standing tricep
pushdowns. Rest. Repeat.
exercising the same muscle group by attaching
one exercise to another. For example, do a set of
chest presses, then without a rest period, do a set of
dumbbell chest flyes. Rest. Repeat.
6. Change Tempo
down the negative (eccentric) portion of exercise will
promote more muscle development. This phase is usually
the downward portion of an exercise, when you are
lowering the weight. External resistance (usually
gravity) is greater than the tension in your muscles.
For example, during a chest press, the eccentric
phase is when you are lowering the dumbbells towards
7. Change Position
flat, to incline, or decline. A change in position
forces you to exercise different parts of your
muscles, helping you to achieve a more well-rounded
8. Use Resistance
Bands with Dumbells
you are doing a one-armed standing bicep curl, place a
resistance band underneath your left leg, slide your
left arm through the other end of band, gripping the
dumbbell with the same hand. Repeat with your right
side. Your exercise will have added resistance near
top of movement because of the added tension exerted
by the resistance band. This means you challenge your
muscles at both the beginning and at the end of the
movement, allowing you to exercise more parts of your
9. Increase Length of
Weight held further away from your
body exerts more tension on the muscles. For
instance, if you are doing chest flyes, instead of
keeping arms bent, straighten them.
10. Add Instability to Your
For instance, if using a bench,
change to a stability ball. If doing lunges, try them
on a balance disc. If doing a bicep curl, try doing
it while standing on one leg (the one opposite your
lifting arm). Adding instability to your exercise
regimen will force your body to exercise your
supporting muscles as well as the targeted muscle
In brief, by utilizing the various methods
mentioned to increase strength, you will continue to
develop muscle. And the more muscles you develop, the
more calories you burn, the younger you feel, the
greater your appearance.
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Linda Kravitz, is CEO of PowerFit LLC, owner of
TheFitWomanOnline.com, a website of women's weight
training and fitness equipment.
Waddell, CSCS, is a certified personal trainer,
who holds a B.S. with Honors in exercise physiology
and is currently completing his Masterís degree in