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A woman’s guide to strength training

A woman’s guide to strength training

First things first, in order for you to get big bulky muscles like a body builder you have to devote your life to lifting weights, you have to eat, sleep, and breathe fitness and nutrition. Women do not have the amounts of testosterone that men do to develop big muscles. What you will do however is build strength and lean muscle mass. You will build a tight and toned body.

Women tend to have high levels of estrogen due to which it’s difficult for them to become overly muscular. Lifting weights will only tone up your muscles and make you stronger. So stop missing out on the benefits of strength training and take your training to a whole new level.

Strength training can be very beneficial for

  • Preserving muscle mass as you get older.

  • Increase lean body mass and lose weight.

  • Burn calories and gain strength at the same time.

  • Reduce the risk of osteoporosis in the future by maintaining your bone density.

  • Decrease the risk of injury as muscles act as a protective layer over your joints.

  • Help you develop better body mechanics by improving your balance and co-ordination.

Strength training is not as complicated as it may seem. But it’s important to understand the basics so that you can use to achieve optimum results.

Basic Exercises

Upper body

Bodyweight: Pushups, pull-ups and parallel bar dips.

Dumbbell Exercises: Dumbbell bench press, dumbbell shoulder press and dumbbell rows.

Barbell Exercises: Barbell deadlift, barbell bench press, Overhead press and bent over barbell rows.

Lower body

Bodyweight squats, lunges and calf raises are the basic lower body exercises. These can later be performed by adding external weights using dumbbells or a barbell.

There are many advanced ways of building strength and muscle but it’s the absolute foundation you should always start with as a beginner. You’ll also find yourself going back to these basics later on.

Strength training with proper volume, intensity, time under tension and frequency

Volume of your training involves the number of reps and sets that need to be performed for each exercise. It’s important to understand that the two (reps and sets) have an inverse relationship between them. 8-12 reps are considered to be optimum for gaining muscle and strength. Now since the reps should be inversely proportional to your sets, your sets range should be on the lower range, some where between 3-5. If your focus is only on strength gains without gaining much muscle, your rep range should be lower than 8 reps. Whereas, if your focus is to build endurance, try keeping your rep range above 12.


A simple way of defining intensity here is the amount of weight you’re lifting or how heavy is the weight you are going to use for a particular exercise. The best way to engage your optimum intensity is to decide your rep parameter. For example, if you are using weights that are heavy enough to hit your rep parameter of 8-12 reps, then you’re good to go. But if you’re able to hit reps higher or lower than your targeted parameter, you need to adjust the weights accordingly. In simple terms, manipulate your intensity in order to achieve the required volume.


For building muscle and strength it’s very crucial to understand the time under which you’ll be putting your muscles through the load. A 3-0-3 rule can be applied her which acts as a sweet spot between inducing explosive power training and detrimental slow lifting. The 3-0-3 rule basically means that the concentric portion (push) of the movement should take about 3 seconds and eccentric portion (lowering) of the movement should take about 3 seconds, pausing for not more than one second at the top and the bottom of the whole movement pattern.


How many times will you hit a body part? The best way to elicit a good hypertrophy response in your muscles is to hit each muscle group twice a week if possible. Split your routine in such a way that you’re hitting each muscle group twice a week.

Make sure that you get enough rest between sets. A rest of one minute would be ideal for both muscle and strength gains.

Finally it does not matter how scientifically sound your workout program is or how experienced your trainer at the gym is, because in the end, it all comes to your attitude towards the whole process. Keep a positive attitude and you will notice better results. With the tools mentioned above you can build your own workout routine without relying on external sources.

Make sure you workout with utmost focus and determination.

If you need help designing a strength training program, I would love to help you. I enjoy strength training myself and I have coached other women in strength training. Visit to learn more about my fitness and nutrition coaching program.


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