What Is The Best Workout For Females?

What is the best workout for females? Find out what other people from the message boards think...


TOPIC: What Is The Best Workout For Females?

The Question:

What is the best workout for females who want to sculpt their bodies (i.e. fitness athletes, stay at home moms, beginners)? Be descriptive. What exercises? Reps? Sets?

Is it better for females to focus on machines or free weights? Why?

Bonus Question: Who is your favorite female fitness athlete? Why?

Show off your knowledge to the world!

The Winners:

    New Prizes:
      1st place - $75 in store credit.
      2nd place - $50 in store credit.

To use your credit, e-mail Will @ will@bodybuilding.com for more info.


1st Place - Aussie LTD

Many females are looking to get into shape. Resistance training is definitely at the top of my recommendations for any females looking to sculpt a shapely physique. It will add a degree of muscle, while adding both tone and definition.

It will also help in loosing weight by both burning calories and increasing your basal metabolic rate. It will reduce your risk of injury, and back pain, as well as giving you a boost in self-esteem.

In this article I have provided good weight training exercises, a sample program and discussed the benefits of both free weights and machines. Read on and move yourself one step closer to sculpting that beautiful body you've dreamed of.


The Best Workout:
What Is The Best Workout For Females Who Want To Sculpt Their Bodies (i.e. Fitness Athletes, Stay At Home Moms, Beginners)? Be Descriptive. What Exercises? Reps? Sets?

A lot of people avoid free-weights for several reasons. Some disvalue their weight-loss benefits; others are afraid they will look too big and bulky while others are just afraid to try something new. Here are a couple of common myths, and some more rational answers.


Debunking The Myths

Myth 1:

    I'm a female who wants a shapely body, that means I have to spend my time using cardio.

    Reality:

      The reality is that muscle actually burns twice as many calories as fat because muscle uses up more energy. Therefore, weight training boosts metabolism, and helps you loose weight quicker.


Click Image To Enlarge.

Myth 2:

    If I use free-weights and machines, I will end up looking like a male.

    Reality:

      This is so common; most females are afraid they end up looking like Arnold Schwarzenegger. The reality is females have 10-30 times less of the hormones that are the responsible for muscle mass than a male. This means females respond differently to training than a male would.


The Exercises:
Which Exercises Are Best For Females?

Many people who train have the belief that there is some magic exercise or routine out there. There are really many options available, and each has their positives and negatives.

What's more important is that you find a routine that has a balance in exercises and volume for each group more than which exercises.

RELATED ARTICLE
10 Reasons Why Women Should Do Resistance Training. 10 Reasons Why Women Should Do Resistance Training.
The benefits of weight training for women and those over the age of forty far outweigh those that just choose cardio.
[ Click here to learn more. ]

A balance would include both compound and isolation movements. Compounds are those that include more than one muscle group, such as dumbbell presses, whereas isolation exercises are those that target the one muscle only, such as leg extensions. Also, a good routine would include both free-weight and machines, which I will discuss later on in this article.

Although people may argue this, I think females should avoid one thing: exercises with a sole purpose to add mass such as heavy squats and heavy deadlifts. There are many other free-weight options that can add enough muscle and sculpt physiques.

Below I've listed some good exercises to get you started.

Chest:

Back:

Shoulders:


Click Image To Enlarge.
Face Pulls.

Face Pull Video Guide:
Windows Media (525 KB)
MPEG (1.7 MB)

Triceps:

Biceps:

Quads:

Hamstrings:

Calves:

Keep in mind there are many other free-weight and machine options available too.


Putting It Together:
The Routines.

Beginners train differently than someone who has been using resistance training for years. Volume and frequency would be lower among a few other things. That's why I have include several programs tailored towards both those who have been training consistently for a while, and those who are just beginning, and also those who are somewhere in between.

Here are 3 sample routines:

Beginner Routine:

    LEVEL: Beginner.
    Volume: Medium-high
    Time: 60 mins.
    SPLIT: 3 days per week
    Goal: Muscle, and tone.

    • Incline dumbbell rows - 2 sets, 10-12 reps
    • Dumbbell chest press - 2 sets, 10-12 reps
    • Overhead dumbbell press - 2 sets, 10-12 reps
    • One-arm, overhead tricep extensions - 2 sets, 10-12 reps
    • Alternating bicep curls - 2 sets, 10-12 reps
    • Smith-machine squats - 2 sets, 10-12 reps
    • Lying leg curls - 2 sets, 10-12 reps
    • Machine calf raises - 2 sets, 10-12 reps
    • print Click Here For A Printable Log Of Beginner Women's Routine.

    This is a great full-body workout that hits all your muscles in the one go. It should be done three times a week on non-consecutive days, so there is one day rest between workouts.

    When you're beginning its best to keep your training format simple, and leave time to increase your training frequency. 3 days a week is a good way to begin, before moving onto 4 days, or even 5 per week.

    Total volume is medium, so it shouldn't fatigue you too much. It's important for beginners not to overtraining, which can be common. There are 2 sets per exercise, and 10-12 reps for each exercise.

    If you're a beginner, it's an idea to have slightly higher reps per exercise like 10-12, rather than 8. This will give you a feel for the exercise, and encourage both good form and establish a muscle-mind connection with the weights, forming good training habits that will take you into your later stages of training.

    Abs are done with cardio, on alternate days. So if you perform resistance training on Monday/Wednesday/Friday, then do cardio and abs on Tuesday/Thursday/Friday.

    Here Is The Ab Routine:

RELATED ARTICLE
How To Train As A Competitive Fitness Athlete! How To Train As A Competitive Fitness Athlete!
In this article, I will share with you my tips on formulating a complete training program to balance all entities of the sport, for ultimate results and maximum performance. Learn more about it...
[ Click here to learn more. ]

Intermediate Routine:

    LEVEL: Intermediate
    Volume: Medium
    Time: 45-60 mins.
    SPLIT: 3 days per week
    Goal: Muscle, and tone.

    Monday: Chest/Triceps.

    Tuesday: Back/Biceps.

    Wednesday: Abs.

    Thursday: Quads/Hams/Calves.

    Friday: Delts, Traps, Forearms.

    This is a good routine for those who have been training for anywhere between 4-12 months, or anyone who likes training using a 4 day split. It's a medium volume routine that is very balanced.

    Sets in this routine are 2 per exercise, and reps 10-12 for isolation movements such as flyes and lunges, and 8-10 reps per exercises for movements like presses and rows. Isolation movements can stimulate a target muscle, and I find this slightly higher rep range compliments this.

    Exercises in the workout are ordered from bigger bodyparts, followed by a smaller bodyparts. This way you are doing your multiple joint movements first. Not only are they ordered in order of importance, but also in a way that prevents fatigue. Each exercise is followed by another that targets a different head of that muscle.

    Cardio can be done 3-4 days per week at this level, and ab work can follow cardio on Wednesday. I find adding abs after resistance training is harder than after cardio. I also find that because cardio is non-stop, that I subconsciously take fewer breaks in my ab routine, which is nice.

Advanced Routine:

    LEVEL: Advanced.
    Volume: Medium-high
    Time: 60 mins.
    SPLIT: 5 days
    Goal: Maintaining muscle, and tone.

    Monday: Chest.

    • Incline dumbbell press - 2 sets, 8-10 reps
    • Cable crossovers - 2 sets, 8-10 reps
    • Flat dumbbell press - 2 sets, 8-10 reps
    • Dumbbell pullover - 2 sets, 8-10 reps
    • Incline cable flyes - 2 sets, 10-12 reps
    • Pec-deck machine - 2 sets, 10-12 reps
    • print Click Here For A Printable Log Of Advanced Monday: Chest.

    Tuesday: Back.

    Wednesday: Legs.

    • Smith-machine squats - 2 sets, 12-15 reps
    • Smith-machine stiff-leg deadlifts - 2 sets, 12-15 reps
    • Leg extensions - 2 sets, 12-15 reps
    • Lying leg curls - 2 sets, 12-15 reps
    • Dumbbell lunges - 2 sets, 12-15 reps
    • Machine calf raises - 2 sets, 12-15 reps
    • Seated calf raises - 2 sets, 12-15 reps
    • print Click Here For A Printable Log Of Advanced Wednesday: Legs.

    Thursday: Delts.

    • Overhead dumbbell press: 2 sets, 8-10 reps
    • Dumbbell lateral raise: 2 sets, 8-10 reps
    • Cable face pulls: 2 sets, 8-10 reps
    • Machine overhead press: 2 sets, 8-10 reps
    • Bent-over cable lateral raises: 1 sets, 8-10 reps
    • Lever machine shrugs: 1 set, 10-12 reps
    • print Click Here For A Printable Log Of Advanced Thursday: Delts.

    Friday: Biceps/Triceps/Forearms.

    • Alternating dumbbell curls - 2 sets, 8-10 reps
    • Lying EZ bar tricep extensions - 2 sets, 8-10 reps
    • Concentration curls - 2 sets, 8-10 reps
    • One-arm dumbbell overhead extensions - 2 sets, 8-10 reps
    • Incline curls - 2 sets, 8-10 reps
    • Reverse-grip tricep pressdowns - 2 sets, 8-10 reps
    • Palms up dumbbell wrist curls - 2 sets, 8-10 reps
    • Palms down dumbbell wrists curls - 2 sets, 8-10 reps
    • print Click Here For A Printable Log Of Advanced Friday: Biceps/Triceps/Forearms.

    Saturday: Abs.

    This is a routine that's more suited for the advanced trainer. Total volume and frequency is higher, and better suited to those with more experience. The workout hits one muscle a day, enabling you to better focus on each muscle and feel it work.

    Although you're training daily, it also takes into account chances of overtraining. Volume is only medium, not too much that you begin to burn out. Using 2 sets allows you more room to sculpt your body, and reps per exercise are 8-10 for compounds, and 10-12 for isolation exercises.

    I recommend this program highly, but only for those who have been training for at least 2 years.


Free Weights Or Machines?
Is It Better For Females To Focus On Machines Or Free Weights? Why?

One of the biggest body building debates: Which is better, free weights or machines? If the question was to be answered for males only, I don't think anything surpasses the mass-building and strength benefits of using free-weights. But which is better for females?

I believe both free weights and machines have their own purpose, and its best for each individual to choose which they prefer. Here I will outline why I like each.

RELATED ARTICLE
Are Free Weights Or Machines Better For Results? Are Free Weights Or Machines Better For Results? The Topic: Are Free Weights Or Machines Better For Results? Find out what people from our popular message boards think...
[ Click here to learn more. ]

Free Weights:

  • Because you're not forced into a fixed position, you're a lot more aware of your body during the exercise. This consciousness better allows you to "feel" your muscles working. If you try a set of dumbbell front raises, you'll immediately feel this muscle-mind connection.

  • Free-weights are advantageous in the strength-benefits they provide. As their range of motion isn't in a fixed plane like machines are, it forces your body to recruit more synergist muscles. These help your target muscle lift the weight, and encourage your body to work as a whole, the way nature intended.

  • Free-weights require your body to "stabilize" yourself during any lift. Combined with synergists, this means some exercises can work almost every muscle in one exercise.

  • Free-weights are time proven. They have been around for decades, and many people have experienced their benefits.


Click Image To Enlarge.
Exercise Boosts Your Overall Health. Just Ask Fawnia Mondey.

Machines:

  • Machines are the better option at "isolating" a muscle. This means machines, and particularly cables, can be an excellent option at sculpting muscle.

  • There are several machine movements in existence with no free-weight alternative. A lot of machine movements can be done using free-weight such as chest pressing or rowing, but movements such as lat-pulldowns and leg extensions can't. Consider an exercise like leg extensions; they are the only isolation exercise for the legs.

  • A program that incorporates machines creates a more aesthetical physique on both males and females. This doesn't mean free-weights don't, but incorporating machines will complement the look free-weights will give you.

RELATED POLLS
Is It Better For Women To Focus On Machines Or Free Weights?

Machines.
Free Weights.
Balance Between The Two.

Is It Better For Men To Focus On Machines Or Free Weights?

Machines.
Free Weights.
Balance Between The Two.

Finding Balance:

    Neither approach is the "right" way to train, or the only way. Each provides their own benefits. Free-weights will enable you to gain the benefits of using stabilizers and synergistic muscles; where as using machines are better for isolation.

    A good routine is one with both free-weights and machines. We may as well make the most of both worlds. As well as these, people also shouldn't forget bodyweight exercises, and cables. In fact, using cables can be very beneficial for females. They provide constant tension on the muscle being worked, and can really provide some nice definition.

    With balance in mind, here is an example of a chest routine:

    • Dumbbell Exercise #1 - Incline dumbbell press - 2 sets, 8-10 reps
    • Machines Exercise #1 - Iso-hammer press - 2 sets, 8-10 reps
    • Dumbbell Exercise #2 - Dumbbell pullovers - 2 sets, 8-10 reps
    • Machine Exercise #2 - Peck-deck - 2 sets, 10-12 reps
    • Cable Exercise - Incline cable flyes - 3 sets, 10-12 reps
    • print Click Here For A Printable Log Of Sample Chest Routine.

    You'll notice in the sample routines provided, there's a balance of free-weights and machines like the chest example above.


Bonus:
Who Is Your Favorite Female Fitness Athlete? Why?

I'd have to say Monica Brant. I really admire her persistence; she has come close so many times, yet has never given up. Her height is probably one of the reasons, but she continues to fight with the hope of winning one day.


Click Image To Enlarge.
Monica Brant.

A comeback is always exciting; although she's aging, I hope she can pick up a win soon. I heard her on the radio program on this site and she seems like a very down-to-earth kind of person.

Guests: Shawn Ray & Monica Brant
Date: 06/20/05
(Radio Show 2)

Then there's a former champion, Cory Everson. She had an incredible physique, a mix of hardness, shape and definition that really stood above others on stage. She is good example of what dedication and a strong will power can get you in this sport. I've seem some training footage of her, and her mind-power to get through what she does was incredible.


Click Image To Enlarge.
Cory Everson.

Maybe you to will one day get a physique like these 2 girls. It takes hard work and persistence, but if you stick to your guns and put in the effort there's no reason why not.

I wish you all the best with your training.


2nd Place - bigcalves
What Is The Best Workout For Females?

Most females have different goals than guys. You might expect a goal of 300lb bench press or 250lbs of muscle for a guy. Most women want to get fit and sculpt their body.


Click Image To Enlarge.
Guys & Gals Have Different Goals.

They basically want lower body fat percentage and a slight increase in lean mass. In return that will result in more energy and a 'toner' look. Unlike guys, most females will have to do cardio year-round to keep fat at a minimum.

Some guys can have the luxury of bulking up without cardio. Since women tend to retain more body fat. Cardio loads will go up and down, but they will stay active all year round.

In this article I will discuss the best workout for a female that is looking to get into shape, lower her body fat and increase her lean body mass. You will not only look good, but your energy levels and power overall will increase so you can tackle your daily tasks with an easier approach.


Cardio Or Weights?

Most women are confused if they should do cardio or weight training. Well, the answer is both. Cardio will not build any muscle.

Sure your legs will look nicer and 'buffer' but that's only because you have less body fat and definition has increased. Weights will not burn much fat, but they will definitely add more muscle mass which burns more calories and in return body fat will drop.

Cardio and weights go hand in hand and are important for the female athlete. Even though most people do one or the other, if you balance it out and follow a routine of both, you will receive great results.

When you are doing cardio you should focus on 30-45 minutes of intense cardio. That will speed up your metabolism, and if you try and do it in the mornings your metabolism will be boosted up for as long as 12 hours.

Make sure to eat a small meal every 3-4 hours. This will guarantee the loss of body fat. As for weight training, focus on 8-15 reps. That will make the muscle work for it, and it will provide you with gains in lean mass.


Click Image To Enlarge.
Focus On 8-15 reps.

Also, make sure your rest time in between sets is about 30 seconds to 1 minute. That way you will be sweating, your heart will be pumping and your metabolism will be increased.

On a regular day, if you do cardio first thing in the morning and weight training in the late afternoon your body will be energized and your metabolism will be at its all time high. Here's the routine that you will follow. Cardio will be on 4 days a week, and you will follow a normal split for the weights.


The Routine

Monday:

Tuesday:

Legs

Wednesday:

Thursday:

    Cardio 45 Minutes

Friday:

Biceps/Triceps

Saturday:

    45 Minute Cardio

Sunday:

OFF


Machines Or Free Weights
Is It Better For Females To Focus On Machines Or Free Weights? Why?

Females should focus on free weights. Free weights build more lean mass and make your muscles work harder. That is why squats are more intense than smith squats.

If it was just the same, then you wouldn't feel the difference. I always say, "If you are going to do something, do it once, do it right".

Overall, I am basically saying to avoid machines.


Click Image To Enlarge.
Avoid Machines.

Machines isolate the muscle so much that anything around it doesn't have a chance to improve. Joints and tendons improve as you lift free weights. If you only use machines your workout will be less intense/hard but your results will also be weaker/smaller. So buckle up, and use the free weights. You won't regret it.


Bonus:
Who Is Your Favorite Female Fitness Athlete? Why?

One name: Monica Brant. Do I need to say more? She evolved female fitness like Arnold evolved bodybuilding. She is number one in what she does.

Her body and business speaks for it. She has managed to apply tactic that was, back then, considered only for the guys. She transformed her body and portrayed fitness in a positive way for females.

She has done only positive things for the sport and has brought many women out of their shells and into the gym. As I get older I start to think about marriage and I cannot imagine marrying someone that doesn't enjoy the wonderful world of fitness.


Click To Enlarge.
Unfortunately, Monica Got Married Last Year To Scott.

I am personally looking for someone like Monica Brant. She has managed to portray fitness in a positive way and proves that the gym is not only for us guys. She, in my opinion, deserves every bit of fame she has.

Good Luck!