Workout routines for Women

As Wednesday is traditionally the regular slot for our 'Get that beach body!' fitness series, I thought I'd continue the series with some information related to fitness. However, today is a bit different. It's all about women! Sorry guys...

Three myths about workout routines for women...Everyone knows that men and women are built differently, even though they have the same basic muscles. However, it's a common belief that workout routines for women should differ significantly from those designed for men. It's certainly true that women respond differently than men to the same type of exercise. Women, for example, tend to use more fat for fuel when they train. Despite this, there's no real reason why workout routines for women should be too different from the ones men use.

Because muscle is a more "active" tissue than fat, people with more muscle tend to have a higher metabolic rate. This means they burn more calories and more fat — even when they're not in the gym. However, the mass of conflicting information about workout routines leaves many women confused about what to do. In fact, there are so many myths and misconceptions around that it's easy to be put off training with weights altogether. Here are just three of the most common.

Myth #1
"Training with weights makes women less feminine". Traditionally, weight training is not considered feminine. That's despite the wealth of research showing that it's a highly effective way to lose fat. You'll also build muscle, which does worry some women. However, the amount of muscle that you'll gain (especially if you're also eating a restricted-calorie diet) is a lot less than you might think. Only women with a genetic predisposition for muscle growth will see substantial increases in size. It takes years of hard work and an almost religious obsession with exercise and diet to develop the kind of female physiques you see in the magazines. In truth, the main benefit of lifting weights when you're trying to shed fat is the preservation rather than the addition of lean muscle. For example, if you follow a low-calorie diet for 12 weeks, roughly 7 out of every 10 pounds that you lose will come from fat. Combine aerobic exercise with a low-calorie diet, and 8 of every 10 pounds you lose will come from fat. However, with a combination of resistance training, aerobic exercise, and a low-calorie diet, you can expect virtually all of the weight you lose to come from fat.

Myth #2
"Women should avoid using heavy weights". Women are usually encouraged to use lightweights and high repetitions in an attempt to "sculpt" or "tone" the part of the body they're exercising. But what exactly is a more toned body, if it's not one with less fat and more muscle? In terms of body composition, if you want a more "toned" physique, then your real goal is to get rid of the fat while keeping the muscle. Remember that losing fat requires that you burn more calories than you eat each day. If your calorie intake is the same as your calorie expenditure, then your weight will remain the same — no matter how many repetitions you do. So, if performing a higher number of repetitions was the best way to develop muscle tone, they would need to burn more calories than low repetitions. However, low repetitions are just as effective at burning calories as high repetitions.

Myth #3
"All forms of resistance exercise make your bones stronger". Muscles aren't the only things that get stronger when you train with weights. Bones get stronger too. Think of bones as a growing organ. They respond to stress just like muscle does. Unfortunately, many weight training routines designed for women (light weights with high repetitions) simply don't impose enough stress on bone to stimulate remodelling. Women, who are at greater risk of osteoporosis than men, need to meet the minimal essential strain required for bone remodelling to occur. Bone growth is proportional to the degree of stress imposed upon it. The greater the overload — within certain limits, of course — the greater the growth. Women are concerned that lifting heavier weights will leave them looking too muscular. Yet, in the majority of cases, women received far better results when they started training with heavier weights and fewer repetitions. The bottom line is that women can train in a similar style to that of men. Rather than performing numerous exercises designed to "isolate" individual muscles, a far better approach is to use multi-joint movements that burn more calories. The bench press, for example, involves more muscles and increases energy expenditure to a far greater extent than the triceps kickback. Where possible, the majority of your workout routines should include movements employing multiple muscle groups. A few examples include the bench press, squat, lat pulldown and deadlift.

All of this information was provided to me from an external source. If you want to get hold of the references behind any of this research, just drop me a note by sending in a comment (below) and I'll forward the research details on to you. I won't publish your comment (unless you want me to!) so your email address will be safe.

And now for something completely different...Speaking of women, did you know that the Goddess Conference takes place today in Glastonbury? The conference celebrates the Mother Goddess, and includes ceremonies, pilgrimage, talks, workshops, Womanspirit exhibitions, performances, music, songs and dance.


I really enjoyed this article! I'd like to get the references please? Thank you!

Hi Lazia. If memory serves, this article was written by Dr. Peterson from the University of Sports Medicine in Oslo. Hope that helps! Jo

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