“The sensing, thinking, moving body is the basis of our experience in the world; it is the very foundation on which cognitive intelligence is built. Physical Intelligence, then, is the inherent ability of the human organism to function in extraordinary accord with its physical environment.”
Let me start by clearing one of the biggest myths in all in female training: women, you will not get bulky by weight lifting! Actually, lifting weights gives you an edge over belly fat, stress, heart disease, and cancer—and it's also the single most effective way to look hot; yes both guys and girls. Your muscles will get stronger and denser; you will burn the fat on top of your muscles, and you will get that “toned” look that you’re after. Yet somehow women are still hesitant: only about a fifth of females strength train two or more times a week.
Another myth I want to clear out is that men and women should train differently: WRONG. In commercial gyms across the country, competent trainers are having their male clients go through intense strength training routines with squats, and deadlifts, and overhead presses, and push ups, and pull ups, and lunges, etc. In those same gyms, other trainers (both male and female) are putting their female clients through light weight dumbbell circuits, and stability ball squats for high repetitions, and having them do tricep kickbacks, machine bench presses, etc. Well, there’s no reason men and women should train differently. There’s no reason that men and women can’t complete the same types of exercises. While a guy can lift a certain way to get bigger, a woman can lift in the same way, but instead build that dense, tight, and lean and toned look that most are aiming for. Thanks to hormones, estrogen, testosterone, genetics, and dietary differences, those male and female will end up with drastically different results. But women have just as much a right to be in the free weights section and squat rack as guys do. There is no reason you can’t do overhead presses, pull ups, squats, and deadlifts like everybody else. Unfortunately, it’s just less common.
However, there are quite a few issues that women deal with that men do not, and thus require specific information and advice: things like hormones, pregnancy, menopause, periods, and so on. While the exercises are the same, and women can easily follow the same program, there are slight differences that will change up programming a little bit to make a program more effective for a woman.
Also remember, your diet is 70 of the battle!
Guidelines and tips to healthy weight lifting:
. Order of Exercise: I try to target the largest amount of muscle mass first to the smallest
amount of muscle mass, eg: squats then calf raises
. Maximize range of motion and keep momentum to a minimum.
. Ensure proper positioning: if you do not maintain the proper form while performing all of your exercises, you simply will not be able to work your muscles to their full potential. So make sure you have the proper stance, with your feet shoulder width apart, soft knees, back straight; or are seated in the right fashion with your feet flat on the floor, weight evenly distributed, and your back straight; or are lying properly with your back flat against the bench. Make sure to keep the proper form throughout each exercise.
. Complete the movement: we are all guilty of rushing through our workouts at some point or another. But by speeding through exercises, you are cheating yourself out of getting the maximum muscle definition and strength building. So make sure to complete each movement and return to your starting position afterwards. No short cuts.
. Maintain control: whether you are doing super-sets without rest, tempo training, or plain old heavy lifting, you must maintain control. Perform all exercises at a controlled, steady pace; that means no jerking or using other muscles but the ones you are supposed to be working.
. Do at least three sets: It doesn't matter if you're doing four or 14 reps of each exercise; in order to get a worthwhile workout, you must do at least three sets of each exercise, up to a maximum of five. That last set is often the one that will reap results.
. Challenge yourself: when you think you can’t anymore, you usually can do 2 more reps.
. Switch it up: if you perform the same exercises week after week, they will quickly lose their effectiveness, as your muscles will simply adapt to them and they will cease to be a challenge. So make sure to change your program every other week. Get the help of a trainer if you have to.
. Work opposing muscles: although bigger biceps are probably higher on your list of priorities than stronger triceps, you cannot train your biceps and ignore the triceps. Strong triceps will balance out your buff biceps, preventing injury and making sure that you look proportional. The same goes for chest and back, quads and hamstrings. etc
. Rest: if you weight train, you must get adequate rest. The time you spend asleep is the time when your body repairs your muscles. So if you don’t get your rest, your muscles will not be able to recover from the exercise and you will inevitably begin spinning your wheels, or worse, courting injury.
. Feed the muscle, it's simple: EAT. You have to supply your body the proper nutrients it needs to recover from physical activity or you will not see the results you seek.
Make sure to keep these points in mind on your quest to reach your goals, and you should get there sooner than you think.