Strength Training for Women

Photo by Danielle Cerullo on Unsplash

Resistance training or weight lifting for women is often in a shroud of mystery. As Paul Chek would say, with female strength training they're "equal but not the same." There are some fundamental hormonal, musculoskeletal, and obvious genetic make-up differences. Understanding these characteristically unique variables, the rest of the rules of physiology, biomechanics, and skeletal fiber type/constitution are the same. As a woman you might ask the wellness coach: "Exercise? What type is appropriate?" The answer:

  • Exercise requires resistance training (core exercises such as: bench press and squat) and dynamic explosive exercise (medicine ball tosses), all which function to develop the body.
  • Free weight training offers a greater transfer of high-performance energy development.
  • The goal of training is to enhance the potential ability and prevent injury in a woman.

Why don't we just train the client for what they want goals wise and dispense with the taboos and preconceived notions?

In an article by J. Silvernail he states:

Good personal training is universal, the principles behind a good training program should be immediately recognized by other fitness professionals who have the same scientific background1

Dr. Silvernail goes on to point out:

Good personal training practices correct client performance based on a common standard of exercise biomechanics and physiology with tailoring for the clients performance and needs1

So, if you're a woman, and your energy level is low, or you're wanting to be toned and maybe even be in better fitness shape, then the solution is simple. You must strength train. There's no need for fear of getting too "bulked up" or "I just need to work on my fitness" excuse validation. By genetic make-up alone, a 40+-year-old woman has a greater need for bone density development and gain of lean mass than her male counterpart. In a book by Dr. Dan Kalish while discussing a woman’s adrenal exhaustion he writes:

I prescribed an exercise program in part to address a woman's "Adrenal stress". The daily exercise is an important part of the lifestyle component to a complete approach program.2

Resistance training of large muscle groups of the body is the number one contributor for this systemic change. Simply put you need to lift weights and do body weight workouts for your own life longevity!

Workout A

Corrective work for glutes/hips (abductors/adductors)

A method combining upper and lower body corrective exercise as an injury prevention mechanism and retraining basic movement. Then apply circuit training to develop muscular/structural integrity and endurance.

  1. Single leg hip lifts (:20 sec each leg)
  2. Quadruped external hip rotations (:20 sec each leg)
  3. Rest (:30 sec)
  4. Supine glute bridge single leg raises (:20 sec each leg)
  5. Quadruped opposite holds (:20 sec each arm/leg)
  6. Rest (:30 sec)
  7. Side lying hip adduction (:20 sec each leg)
  8. Quadruped straight leg swings (:20 sec each leg)
  9. Rest (:30 sec)

Circuit (3 rounds, :30 seconds each exercise)

  1. Modified push up from knees
  2. Supine table hip raise (hands and feet)
  3. Bodyweight step ups (4" - 12" platform)
  4. Reverse lunge (each leg)
  5. Prone plank (from elbows, face down)
  6. Supermans (arm in Y, T, A positions)
  7. Wall squat
  8. Rest (2 min)

Corrective stretches

Spend :08 to :15 on each action when doing the swiss ball stretches. When doing the static poses, hold for :20 to :30 and learn to relax through the stretch and try not to tense up.

  1. Swiss ball quad stretch
  2. Swiss ball chest stretch (pectoralis major)
  3. Swiss ball rhomboids and posterior deltoid stretch
  4. Swiss ball mid-back and abdominals stretch

Workout B

Corrective work for shoulders/scapulae (shoulder blades) (:20 sec each exercise)

  1. Seated upright alphabet (Y, T, W, L)
  2. Foam roller, alternating windmills (internal/external rotation at the thumb)
  3. Prone pro/re-traction
  4. Rest (:30 sec)
  5. Seated upright alphabet (Y, T, W, L)
  6. Foam roller (supine) floor slides
  7. Prone pro/re-traction
  8. Rest (:30 sec)
  9. Seated upright alphabet (Y, T, W, L)
  10. Foam roller (supine) floor angels (arm circles)
  11. Prone pro/re-traction
  12. Rest (:30 sec)

Circuit (3 rounds, :30, :25, and :20 seconds, respectively)

  1. Epic chest press
  2. Epic high row/lat pulldown
  3. Epic shoulder press
  4. Epic preacher bicep curl
  5. Epic leg ext.
  6. Epic leg curls
  7. FM cable wood chop (high to low)
  8. Rest (2 min)

Corrective stretches

  1. Swiss ball obliques (lateral/side laying) stretch
  2. Levator scapulae stretch (scratch stretch)
  3. 90°/90° external rotators of the hip stretch

  1. The Corrective Exercise Trap, Tumminello, N., Silvernail, J., Cormack, B.; NSCA PTQ 204.1 pg. 6-7.

  2. Your Guide to Healthy Hormones, Kalish, D., The Natural Path 2005 pg. 2