Find out about weight training for women at the gym. Even today, gender stereotypes and the fear of becoming “big” and masculine look keep many women away from the gym.
However, weight training if combined with a healthy and balanced diet is essential to promote and maintain psychophysical health and to improve body composition (and therefore reduce fat).
Having said that it seems simple, but how do you train to get these benefits? Where should nutrition and diet go? Let’s try to see these aspects in detail.
Are Women And Gym Weights Compatible?
Probably if you are reading this article, it is because you associate weight training with images of doped female bodybuilders with overdeveloped muscles.
Know that if you don’t take performance-enhancing drugs, reaching that level is virtually impossible.
This is because women have 10 times lower testosterone than men and this makes the process of building muscle mass long and difficult.
However, resistance training is essential because it allows you to:
- Improve body composition ( increase muscle and reduce fat ) and basal metabolic rate ( burn more calories at rest );
- Improve bone density by reducing the risk of osteopenia and osteoporosis;
- Maintain cardiovascular health and reduce the risk of diabetes II.
It is clear that to get all these benefits you have to use stimulating loads, you have to be constant and follow a balanced diet that is functional to your goal.
For the building of muscle mass, you are allowed to use even heavy loads and you can abandon the much-loved anklets because you will not become a man.
What Physique Can A Woman Achieve In The Gym?
If the training program and diet you follow are correct you can achieve a strong, functional, athletic, and performing physique. Gender stereotypes likely lead you to underestimate your weightlifting skills.
Even if women have less strength than men (70-75% in the lower body and 40-60% in the upper body), this does not exclude them from being able to train with barbells and dumbbells in order to obtain a toned body.
If you choose to train against resistance you will have in addition to the aesthetic benefits, also benefits in daily life: less joint pain, less difficulty lifting or holding children, more energy to carry out all the activities that belong to you.
Do not forget, however, that the aesthetic result you want to obtain must be compatible with your genetics and not with the images you have seen on social networks.
Why Even After I Go To The Gym I Still Don't Lose Weight?
What matters in weight loss is the calorie deficit:
- Taking in more calories than you consume = you gain weight
- If you consume as many calories as you consume = stay stable
- If you consume fewer calories than you consume = lose weight.
The best approach if you need to lose weight is to combine a balanced diet with the gym.
To think that training alone is enough to reduce the pounds off the scale is incorrect.
The job of weight training is to increase muscle mass, and it is this that allows you to increase your resting metabolism.
This means that even if you are on the couch doing nothing you consume more calories.
Weight training itself does not consume a large number of calories, it works at the metabolic level, and this is what matters. In addition, everything must be related to food.
You can also exercise frequently and burn a lot of calories, but if what you eat is more than what you consume, the result will still be weight gain.
It may be that having reached this point, she is asking you: “Yes, but I train and eat very little, yet I can’t lose weight”.
This problem is very common and arises from the fact that you have accustomed your body to a low-calorie diet for a long period of time.
The result is a blockage of the metabolism. In these cases, paradoxically, the solution is to increase calorie consumption very gradually until you reach the correct daily energy requirement.
When you get to this point, you need to maintain the same calorie intake until your weight remains stable. Only from this moment on can you begin a process of reducing fat mass.
Effective Nutrition And Diet For Women In The Gym
As you have just read, following a restrictive and low-calorie diet for a long time can be counterproductive in terms of health and physical performance.
If you want to make progress in the gym it is right that you give your body enough energy to be able to do it.
This means that you can follow any diet that makes you feel good, the important thing is that there is a right balance between macro and micronutrients and that the amount of calories introduced covers your daily requirement.
Carbohydrates, fats, and proteins are essential for maintaining psychophysical and hormonal health and for building muscle mass, as well as vitamins and minerals.
Drastically reducing one or more of these nutrients can lead to health problems in the long run and therefore to reduced progress in the gym.
The dietary approaches are endless but currently, the diet that appears to be among the best in terms of long-term health is the Mediterranean one.
According to the latter, the relationship between macronutrients is as follows:
- 55-60% carbohydrates
- 25-35% fat
- 10-15% protein.
It is clear that the proportions between macronutrients can vary in relation to the goal you want to achieve.
For example, if you need to lose weight you can choose different approaches: a 2009 study took into consideration a group of 811 overweight subjects and subjected them to 4 different types of diets, manipulating macronutrients differently.
At the end of the research, it was shown that all the diets considered were functional for weight loss because in all a calorie deficit was expected.
Finally, don’t forget that water also plays a fundamental role, even more so if you are remedying water retention and cellulite.
According to the guidelines, a healthy adult woman should basically drink at least 2 L of water, and this requirement increases when you train in the gym.
What Is The Right Workout For Women At The Gym
To improve health the best approach is to combine weight training with cardiovascular exercise.
Resistance training is essential from both an aesthetic and functional point of view and must include both upper and lower limb training.
Training your legs only and always hoping to improve their aesthetics can be counterproductive, especially if you tend to accumulate water retention and cellulite in the lower limbs.
When you train you must therefore take into account your biotype, which can be:
- Android (apple shape): accumulation of adipose tissue in the abdomen, upper limbs, and breasts;
- A gynoid (pear shape): you accumulate fatty tissue on the hips, thighs, and buttocks;
- Mixed: you have characteristics common to both previous biotypes.
If you are gynoid you can implement some strategies to avoid worsening the inflammatory state of the legs:
- In the session in the gym, first, train the legs and then the arms in order to avoid the stagnation of toxins in the lower body or alternate an exercise for the legs with one for the arms in order to promote blood circulation;
- Avoid doing too many lactate workouts (burning sensation or heaviness in the legs) because they sharply increase the stagnation of liquids;
- Do not overdo the cardio as it could increase cortisol with worsening of the inflammatory state of the lower body. Prefer walking over high-impact activities in order to stimulate the structures in the foot that facilitate venous return.
If you are an android subject you do not have particular inflammatory problems so you can afford to work more intensely on the legs.
Finally, if you are mixed you must take into account the precautions of the previous biotypes by adapting them to you.
Note that these are general guidelines only. Everything must be personalized and for this, I recommend that you contact a trainer who can help you.
How Many Times A Week To Train?
You can get great results even without exercising every day. The key is to be consistent and have a well-formulated training program that fits your lifestyle.
If your desire to “live in the gym” stems from a form of sports addiction or an eating disorder, exercising every day will not only make the problem worse, but it won’t allow you to improve physically in a healthy way.
If, on the other hand, you want to train a lot because you are a dynamic woman and have the energy to spare, then you can train frequently.
The important thing is to always find the right balance and give the body time to recover. Remember that muscle mass is built at rest.
Precisely for these reasons, it is advisable to always maintain a minimum of 1 or 2 recovery days a week, in order to rest the system and joints. In any case, an ideal training frequency could be 3 sessions per week.
How Long Does It Take To Get Results?
This is a million-dollar question because again the answer is it depends. It depends on how much you train, on the lifestyle you follow, and above all on your constancy. Whatever your goal, don’t rush and enjoy the process.
What you are learning with training is a lifestyle and not a thing to do until you reach your goal and then stop. Whether you are training to gain muscle mass or you are training to lose weight it takes time.
If you are new to weight training you will see rapid progress in loads and strength, but sooner or later you will reach a stalemate.
This is normal because the improvements happen in “waves”. The same thing goes for weight loss, but that doesn’t have to put you down, because it’s part of the process.
Sample Card For Women In The Gym
An example of a basic card for a woman who wants to gain muscle mass could be the following:
- Cardiovascular and joint heating 5/10′
- Core Stability: Side plank 3 x 30″
- Hip Thrust 3 x 8
- Lat Machine 3 x 8
- Squat 3 x 10
- Incline bench 3 x 10
- Lateral raises 3 x 12
This is a very simple example of a PHA protocol with a focus on major movements. It is a total body workout with exercises that involve large muscle masses.
How To Warm Up?
Warming up is essential to prepare your body for training and reduce the risk of injury. The goal is to increase body temperature and synovial fluid production in the joints to cope with training.
You can warm up first with a cardio machine for 5/10′ and then do some joint mobility exercises for the neck, shoulders, back, hip, and knees.
How Many Repetitions To Do?
Based on the guidelines for training aimed at hypertrophy, the recommended rep range is between 6 and 12.
If you want to do more lactic acid work at the end of the workout with a low load the repetitions can be high (> 15).
How much recovery time between one series and the next?
The recommended recovery is between 60″ and 90″. If you are doing a set with the goal of increasing metabolic stress, recovery can be even shorter (30″).
Swollen Legs After Training
If you work out in the gym it is likely that you have experienced a feeling of “bloating” post-workout.
This feeling is correct, but it must not take you away from the weights, because it is a temporary phase.
When you train you to create damage to the lower body this does nothing but attract substances and retain water in order to repair damaged muscle tissue.
To limit this effect, there are some measures you can take into consideration.
What Are The Most Effective Exercises For Women In The Gym?
To improve from an aesthetic and functional point of view the best exercises are bodyweight exercises with barbells or dumbbells (squat, deadlift, hip thrust, flat bench, slow forward, lunges, etc.) and strength machines (lat machine, leg press, etc).
It is also good to include complementary and isolation exercises to work on the most deficient muscle groups.
Do not forget that to avoid injury, the execution technique must always be clean.
Women In The Gym And Zumba: How Effective Is It?
If your goal is to have fun, then Zumba is the activity for you, but if your goal is to lose weight or build muscle, it may not be the right strategy to follow. Better to prioritize weight training.
Gym And Pregnancy: What To Avoid And What Can Be Done?
If you are healthy and your doctor has not given you contraindications know that prenatal physical activity is to be considered as a fundamental therapy to reduce the risk of complications during childbirth and to improve your psycho-physical health.
In fact, controlled physical activity is not associated with spontaneous abortion, neonatal death, preterm birth, and other complications.
The guidelines recommend doing at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity per week and combining it with resistance exercise.
It is also useful to practice Kegel exercises for strengthening the pelvic floor, yoga, and pilates.
The abdominals should be avoided because they could worsen diastasis (separation of the abdominal muscles), excessive strain, and intense joint stress.
Avoid keeping the supine position for more than 5/10 ‘because it involves a restriction of the blood flow to the fetus.
Weight training brings many benefits to women. Don’t be afraid to train with stimulating loads, because they are the ones that make you get results in terms of aesthetics, strength, and functionality.
Stay consistent and follow a sensible schedule that takes into account your lifestyle, so that you have the right balance between training and rest.
Don’t be disheartened if you can’t always improve or lose weight, because progress comes in “waves”.
Eat and drink properly, because if you don’t energize your body it won’t be able to progress.