How to Start Weight Training For Females

So you’ve decided to get into shape but don’t know where to start. There are lots of “101” weight training articles and videos out there but almost all of them are geared towards men. As a female where do you start?

Weight training for females involves routines that have many similarities to those used by men. But, as women have slightly different physiologies and usually have different fitness goals the approach to weight training is often very different. If you want to weight train to get into fitness model shape or even if you want to bulk up for professional competitions there are specific exercises and routines that you can do to get there faster. Let’s take a closer look at how to start weight training female style.

How to Start Weight Training For Females

Five Reasons Why Women Should Weight Train

Here are some great reasons for weight training as a female:

Lais DeLeon fitness model weight training

Lifting weights will:

  1. Lead to higher calorie consumption
  2. Improve your health
  3. Make you feel fitter
  4. Highlight female curves
  5. Boost your confidence

Let’s look at these 5 benefits in more detail.

What Weight Training Does For Females

Let’s look at the above 5 benefits in more detail.

Leads to Higher Calorie Consumption

Have you ever wondered why very overweight people who embark on a weight-loss and fitness regime can lose huge amounts of weight in a very short time – sometimes being able to shed as much as 12 lbs in a week?

Well, it’s because it takes more fat-burning energy for them to complete weight-loss tasks than it does for an average person, because their muscles and heart have to work harder to move all that weight.

In a similar, but much healthier, way, weight training has the same effect because it increases your muscle mass. Muscles with more mass then require more energy to work than they did before.

Bigger muscles use more energy and thus burn more calories.

This doesn’t mean you need to have huge muscles for this effect to take place.

When you train your muscles, even if you are not training for increased size, your muscles increase in mass and thus require more energy even to do simple tasks. This energy comes in the form of burned calories.

So, when you weight train you naturally start to burn more calories than you did in the days before you trained even when you’re only performing everyday activities.

Improves Your Health

Apart from the obvious effect of making you feel healthier and getting your overall body into shape weight training has a positive affect on your bones.

Women, as they age, start to lose bone mass every year. This can be as much as a 2% loss dependent on age.

Over the last decade or so there are have studies that have shown how weight training can increase bone density in both men and women.

all in the mindRegular weight training can not only help to diminish the effects of bone density loss in women but it can actually help to rebuild it.

Makes You Fitter

When you lift weights you get stronger. This increase in strength is accompanied by an increase in energy.

When you feel strong, and especially if you are strong and lean, you feel fit.

You can do things that before would rob you of energy and you can perform other tasks for longer periods.

This should lead to a better quality of life.

Highlights Your Female Curves

Contrary to popular opinion lifting weights does not make women look like Arnold Schwarzenegger. Of course any woman can train to bulk up on muscles but that takes a lot of hard work, strict dietary routines that involve eating a lot and a very long time.

You will not look like a female Arnold Schwarzenegger by weight training!

When you lift weights and do cardio you will actually help to accentuate your natural female form.

All fitness models, and many regular models, lift weights.

When you weight train regularly, eat clean and healthily and perform cardio you will reach your optimal weight and look toned and fit.

With the right workout routine, a good diet and dedication any woman can rival a fitness model’s physique.

Boosts Your Confidence

hard work pays off female weight trainingI believe this benefit is self-explanatory.

When you look good, you feel good.

When you feel fit, you feel good.

In addition when you set a personal goal to get fit and look good and then reach that goal you feel even better about yourself.

What Are Your Your Personal Goals?

Why do you want to lift weights?

Getting into Fitness Model Shape

Most women want to weight train so they can get into optimal shape.

As I covered above weight training can greatly enhance the female form and when combined with fat-burning cardio sessions any woman can look and feel as good as a top fitness model. You just have to put in the work.

Female Bodybuilding

If you want to start weight training to get into a similar shape to that of a female bodybuilder then you are going to have to put in a lot of extra work.

I am going to assume for the rest of this article, that you want to weight train to highlight your female curves and get into shape rather than for bulk muscle building.

The Importance of Diet

lifting weightsDiet is crucial to any fitness program and weight training is no different.

Please do not confuse the term diet with a weight-loss diet.

In respect to fitness training the word “diet” is used in its correct form. Diet refers to your eating habits – what you eat, how you eat and how much you eat routinely.

Diet is defined as, “The kinds of food that a person, animal, or community habitually eats”, The Oxford English Dictionary.

You must change your diet so that you eat in a healthy and clean way or you won’t get the most from your exercise routines.

Weight Training Equipment

Total Gym 1400 woman in actionWhen you are first starting out it is sometimes easier to use a full-body workout machine . These machines make switching between exercises very easy and you can do all your muscles groups on the same machine.

They are designed to simulate weight training through the use of resistance bands.

Not everyone agrees that they do a good enough job though there are those that feel they are great for weight training routines.

Full Body Workout Machine vs Free Weights

The effect of using a full-body resistance machine is very similar to lifting weights but just not quite as good (though there are pros and cons to both approaches).

woman weight lifting on home-use benchMany of these full-body workout machines are more than adequate to help you get into shape and tone your muscles and there are fairly cheap entry-level machines available.

However, if you have bigger ambitions and actually want to bulk-up on muscle then you will need a bigger weight machine and some free weights.

The beauty of full-body workout machines though is that you can use it to train from home.

If you want a good free weights training routine then you will probably have to go to the gym or set aside a special place at home to store all your gym equipment.

Having said that there are some good home-use weights benches that don’t take up that much room.

Essential Personal Equipment

female weight lifting glovesRegardless of how you plan to train and where you plan to train you will need to get weight lifting gloves.

Gloves are essential for protecting your hands and ensuring your sweaty palms don’t drop heavy weights on your head.

You should also invest in a sports water bottle.

Weight Training Routine for Beginners

Here are some tips for getting started with your weight training.

Always Warm-Up

If you are new to exercising, and especially weight training, then you may not be aware of the importance of the “warm-up”.

pulled muscle groups due to no warm-upBefore you exercise any muscle you need to perform some simple exercises to get the blood flowing and to stretch your muscles.

Failing to do a warm-up greatly increases your chances of injuring one or more muscles. Not only is this painful but it will greatly hamper your training routine forcing you to take time off training and slowing down your progress.

This recently happened to me when I pulled both a lat muscle and trapezium muscle on my left side, effectively forcing me to stop training for almost three weeks – all because I was in a hurry and didn’t stretch properly!

So drill into your mind and body the necessity of the warm-up as even old pros can get caught out when the cut corners. 🙁

Ease Yourself Into Exercise

As a beginner you should start with easy exercises that have the lowest learning curve.

Starting anything new can be a daunting task and learning lots of different exercises can be almost as exhausting as doing them for some people.

So, start with exercises that can be learned easily from your very first workout.

Single exercises that target more than one muscle group are also a great way for beginners to ease themselves into a regular weight training routine.

Short Routines

Keep your routines short.

If you spend just 30 minutes per day in the gym you can target just one specific group of muscles each day. This makes the routine easier and quicker.

It also allows you the opportunity to make massive gains, if you want to, by simply spending more time in the gym and doing multiple sets (more on that later).

Instead of trying to train your whole body in one session 3 times per week, weight train 5 or 6 days per week setting aside each particular day for a specific muscle group.

Split Your Training Into Muscle Groups

You can easily train your whole body over a week while only spending 30 minutes per day in the gym.

In the beginning you won’t even spending anywhere near that amount of time because you will doing short reps and minimum sets.

For example:

Sunday: Lats and Traps

Monday: Biceps and Triceps

Tuesday: Thighs and Calves

Wednesday: Chest and Forearms

Thursday: Side lats and Shoulders

Friday: Tummy

Saturday: Off

The above scheduled is just an example but if you break down your training routine into bite size chunks like this then you won’t have to spend more than 30 minutes in the gym per day.

If you add 20 minutes of cardio even just 3 times per week (doing HIIT) then you won’t spend more than an hour in the gym at most on those days.

Also by targeting just one or two individual muscle groups in your daily session you can get really fast results when you get to the stage where you are performing multiple sets.

Focus on Form

The most important thing to focus on when you first start weight lifting is your form.

girl doing bicep curlWhat does this mean?

Your form in weight lifting refers to the way you perform each exercise.

When lifting weights when you are new to it, it is often more important to lift the weight in the correct way rather than focusing on the heaviness of the weights or the amount of times you lift them.

It is about putting the most amount of strain on the muscle for good conditioning it without putting straining on any other muscles.

There are videos you can watch to ensure your form is correct for each exercise (like this one on squats) or you can simply ask someone at the gym. Most people are only too happy to help people who are new to fitness and they just love sharing their knowledge.


Remember to rest your body.

Rebuilding your muscles takes more than just food. You must give your body time to recuperate and repair the muscle tissue you have broken down during your training sessions. This is why you only target each muscle group once per week.

You should also aim to get at least 8 hours of sleep per night as a lack of sleep releases harmful chemicals into the body that negatively affect your weight training results.

Take it Easy on Those Tender Muscles

Arnold Schwarzenegger tells a story about his first training session when he was a teenager.

bicep curl femaleHe tells how the guys at the gym pushed him to his limit and on the way home his body started to shake and he fell off his bicycle. For anyone other than Arnold Schwarzenegger this would probably have put an end to their bodybuilding career right there and then.

Don’t do the same thing.

Start off with very easy exercises and stop after only a few repetitions the first time you train.

Then the next time do a few more repetitions.

This will allow your muscles and body to get used to being used.

It will only take you a few weeks before you are training in a way that is starting to build muscle and burn fat.

Build up the reps and sets slowly over several weeks.

Begin With Light Weights

Just as you should start with low reps you should also be using light weights.

If you approach fitness and weight lifting with the right attitude then you should be in this for the long-term. If you are in it for the long-term then there is no rush to reach your optimal training routine.

Take it easy in the beginning.

When you become more proficient and used to your training routine then you can increase the weights, increase the reps and do more sets.

Full Weight Training Workout Routines For Females

Weight Training Routine Using Full-Body Machine (video)

The above exercises are designed to give you a full-body workout at home using a home gym equipment like the Total Gym machines like Total Gym XLS.

It will give you a good body workout at home.

Upper Body Weight Training Routine Using Free Weights (video)

Whitney Simmons of YouTube fame shows you how to do a full upper body workout using weights.

She demonstrates perfect weight lifting form so watch her carefully and copy how she does it.

Legs & Butt Weight Training Workout Using Free Weights (video)

Now that you have an upper body routine Whitney Simmons shows you how to get that perfect butt and toned legs.

This lower body weights workout can be used with the upper workout shown above.

Full Body Workout Using Free Weights & Weights Machines (video)

In this video YouTube sensation BODiBiDAY and her friend Bella demonstrate how you can use resistance training in conjunction with free weights for a killer workout.

You may have a few great weight lifting workouts now and a better understanding of how to weight lift as a woman but you aren’t finished yet.

Don’t Forget the Cardio

Good fat-burning cardio exercises should also be included as part of your weight training routine.

woman doing cardio on treadmillWeight training helps build and tone muscle but all that hard work will not be that noticeable if your muscles are covered in a thick layer of body fat.

By far the best types of cardio training routines will use HIIT exercises. These types exercises can be performed on either a treadmill or an elliptical trainer.

Cardio is an important aspect of training but it should not be your main focus.

You only need to perform 20 minutes of cardio per day to effectively shed excess body fat.

The bulk of your training time will be spent working on your muscles. But please don’t neglect the cardio!

Advancing Your Weight Training Routines

Once you are confident with your training regime and know your exercises well then you can increase the workout intensity.

However, instead of increasing the repetitions you perform it is often better to increase the weight and decrease the repetitions. Then you increase the number of sets you do.

For example you lift a barbell 10 times then rest for a few seconds.

That is 10 repetitions.

Now lift it another 10 times.

When you finish the second 10 exercises you have completed 2 sets.

Completing more sets will build up your muscle faster than increasing repetitions will. So always try to increase your sets rather than your reps.

On average between 10 – 12 reps is enough of any exercise. If they are too easy just increase the weight. But always aim to increase the sets first.

When you reach your maximum gym time (i.e. you can’t fit any more sets into your routine because you don’t have time) simply increase the weight load.

Keep in mind that you will never get too big and muscular unless you specifically train to get that way and you eat a lot and very often!

You will never get big and muscular on you intentionally want get that.

Last But Not Least

Women advanced weight trainingLastly, and perhaps most importantly of all, believe in yourself.

You can do it. You can reach any fitness goal you set for yourself.

Others have done it, so why not you?!

Do you want to build muscle? Do you want a figure and physique of a fitness model?

You can do it.

Sometimes it doesn’t look like what you are doing is having any effect. Just hang in there. You can’t change the laws of physics; if you do the work you will get the result. It’s as simple, and as difficult, as that.