Warning: Know These 12 Things About Strength Training for Women

Do you want to simultaneously burn fat, improve bone health, and even get physically stronger?

This is easily achievable by training with weights.

Unfortunately, this type of workout is not popular among many women because they might have the wrong conception in their minds.

In reality, this type of training will give you the most benefit for the least amount of effort.

Read on to find about 12 advantages and disadvantages of strength training for women that you need to know.

Warning: Don’t Even Think About Strength Training for Women Until You Read These 12 Things Read on to find about 12 advantages and disadvantages of strength training for women that you need to know. #weightlossforwomen #loseweight #resistancetraining #strengthtraining

1. Strength training won’t make you bulky

One of the largest misconceptions among women is they will become bulky or muscular because of training with weights.

According to studies, women do have similar potential to get stronger, compared to men (1).

However, another study performed with 22 women and 23 men, showed that the gains in terms of muscle size are quite different, after 9 weeks of following the same program (2).

Men gained twice as much muscle as compared to women.

Females start with a much lower amount of muscle in the first place and also lack sufficient amounts of testosterone to achieve significant hypertrophy over time.

This makes building muscle much slower and harder process for women.

In order to gain a lot of muscle and look even slightly bulky as a woman, you will need to put years of effort into strictly controlled diet and heavy exercises.

Even then most women have to use anabolic steroids in addition, to achieve a muscular physique.

It is practically impossible to become muscularly bulky from just 2-3 regular workout sessions with weights per week as a woman.


It is much harder for women to become as muscular when compared to men, because of lower levels of testosterone and starting muscle mass.

2. Strength training is better than cardio for weight loss

When people want to lose weight, they are often looking for the simplest and most effective way to burn fat.

And of course, they try out cardio first, as you can do it for hours and it burns the most amount of calories (3).

However, physical activity is not the main contributor to the total amount of energy we expend daily (4).

What burns the most amount of calories is our basal metabolic rate. It depends on our fat-free mass.

This is the energy we expend while resting, in order for our organs and tissues to function properly.

Unlike cardio, strength training can also improve the resting energy expenditure by stimulating muscle growth and preservation. 

This way we can improve our fat-free mass and overall metabolism. Cardio might even affect your metabolism negatively.

A study shows that after either high or low-intensity cardio there is an increased level of stress and need for antioxidants (5).

Another study shows that these repetitive increases in stress after endurance training might lead to a chronic elevation (6).

Because of the increases in stress and the lack of muscle-building stimulus, a portion of the lost weight might not be fat, but muscle (7).

This means that while weight training might result in more energy burned both inside and out of the gym, too much cardio might actually damage your metabolism.


Compared to cardio, weight training can help you preserve your muscle tissue, which otherwise naturally diminishes with age and thus boost your metabolism.

3. Cardio might interfere with strength training

Some might think that combining resistance training and cardio in the same workout session would be a good idea to burn even more calories, however, the science speaks otherwise.

According to multiple studies, when combining anaerobic (resistance) and aerobic (cardio) training, the positive effects of both are reduced (8). 

It turns out that the metabolic pathways for adaptation to these two completely different stimuli are working in different directions (9).

For example, the enzymes activated in the organism after one of these stimuli blocks the other’s activity (10).

Protein kinase B is activated after training with weights and it helps build muscle by stimulating muscle protein synthesis and reduces the risk for muscle breakdown. 

On the other hand, when doing cardio 5′ adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase is released.

Its role is to support fatty-acid uptake and oxidation, glucose uptake, and glycolysis – all aimed to improve muscle endurance. 

However, it inhibits protein synthesis and blocks the molecular signaling of Protein kinase B. 

This is why cardio might prevent progress in weight training not just for the leg muscles but for the whole body. 

Also, cardio and resistance training benefit the development of different types of muscle fibers (11).

While cardio benefits the hypertrophy of the slow-twitch muscle fibers – type 1, resistance training benefits fast-twitch muscle fibers – type 2. 

Type 1 muscle fibers are more efficient for long and monotonous exercise. They have myoglobin which gives them their red color and allows them to use oxygen to burn glycose much more efficiently. 

This is why we should prefer engaging more of the type 2 muscle fibers – they expend much more glycose, compared to type 1, because they cannot use oxygen and have a better potential for hypertrophy. 

It is the resistance training that forces type 2 muscle fibers into work and stimulates their development.


Combining both endurance and strength training is not a good option for the long term, as both adaptations reduce each other’s efficacy.

4. Choose compound exercises as your main lifts

A lot of women try isolation exercises and machines in order to target a specific area, where they want to burn the fat.

However, research so far does not confirm that you can target the burning of fat with exercise of specific areas.

A study including 24 participants found that while abs exercises increase the physical capacity of the body, they were not sufficient on their own to reduce belly fat (12).

Another study performed with 7 men and 4 women found out that resistance exercise is effective in reducing fat tissue, but not from the trained area in particular (13).

This is why it is best to include more compound exercises, which target more areas simultaneously.

Such exercises are performed with free weights such as when using dumbbells and barbells.

Also, they involve movements in more than one set of joints simultaneously. Studies show that they lead to better muscular development (14). 

However, remember to always start with light weights and learn proper technique first.

Learning the exercise correctly will help your progress and reduce the risk of injuries.

You should consider hiring a personal trainer in order to understand how to perform movements such as squats, deadlifts, hip thrusts, walking lunges, etc.

Also, according to science, performing exercises in a full range of motion is best to optimize the positive effects of training (15).

Of course, for maximum benefits, a combination of free weights and machines can be used.


Exercises involving free weights such as barbells and dumbbells and movements in two or more pairs of joints simultaneously should be preferred, as they target more muscles, burn more calories, and allow for easier progress.

5. Higher training frequency is best for women

Another aspect of weight training that many gym-goers do not understand is training frequency.

What most people aim for is a typical training split, which targets each muscle group only once a week and has a whole training session full of similar exercises.

However, scientific data suggests that it might be more optimal to train multiple body regions or even the whole body in a single workout while using just 1-2 exercises per group.

This type of training is called high-frequency training because it involves performing 2-3 or more such workouts in the same week.

While it might seem more taxing to train the whole body in a day, the total amount of work remains the same, we simply spread similar exercises throughout different sessions.

This way the muscle is always fresh and at maximum capacity, instead of performing the exercise as the 2nd or the 3rd one for an already exhausted area.

A meta-analysis of ten studies shows that for both males and females higher frequency training leads to better results (16).

This is why even just two workout sessions per week, including full-body training sessions using the correct exercises, are sufficient enough to improve both strength and body composition.


Higher frequency training allows for better progress in the gym in terms of both strength and muscle gains.

6. Your training volume depends on your number of sets and reps

In order to structure a proper strength training program, you need to have knowledge of basic principles such as training volume and training intensity.

Training volume is the amount of work done per workout and per week.

It is equal to the number of repetitions and sets done, and it is strongly related to muscle hypertrophy.

In other words, you need enough training volume, in order to stimulate muscle growth properly.

In the case of high-frequency training, we will have the volume for a muscle group split amongst a few different days.

This way we can include some amount of training volume for each muscle group of the whole body in a single workout every time.

Research shows it is most optimal to have around 10 sets per week per muscle group (17).

This can fit perfectly into a schedule of 4-5 sets per muscle every workout, two times per week.

A meta-analysis investigated what is the optimal repetition range for proper stimulation of targeted muscles (18).

It found out that the repetition ranges that are between 6-20 matter the most, as long as they are around at least 5 repetitions short of failure.

Failure is when we do not have the capacity to perform another repetition with a given weight for the current set, so we need to rest before the next set.

This means that each exercise should be performed with sufficient weight so that eventually we will get close to failure.

Actually reaching failure, however, is not advised, as it brings almost no further benefits, according to studies (19).

Leaving at least a rep or two in reserve is recommended, in order to reduce the risk for injuries.


Training volume is the number of sets done with enough weight and reps reaching close but short of failure.

7. Your training intensity depends on how heavy the weight is

As we already mentioned, it is important to use adequate weight, in order to stimulate the muscle properly.

Studies show that using heavier weights results in better muscle adaptations to training, compared to lower weights when matching the total amount of volume done (20).

However, we should also not overestimate ourselves.

While the weight should be relatively heavy, it should still be light enough to allow us to accumulate sufficient volume and maintain proper technique.

We should not forget that volume is the main factor contributing to muscle development.

Proper technique is even more important to be maintained during the whole exercise, especially for the last and hardest repetitions.

It reduces significantly the risk of traumas and injuries, as well as the full range of motion further increases our chance for progress.


Training intensity is the amount of weight used for different exercises.

8. Always aim for progressive overloading

In order to progress in your strength and aesthetics goals, you need to increase your volume every week.

Science has determined that progressively increasing the volume and intensity is the main driver for muscle growth in resistance training individuals for both men and women (21).

These criteria vary for different exercises. For compound exercises, which involve relatively heavier weights, it is best to slightly increase the load every week.

Increasing the weight on the bar or with the dumbbells with just a kilogram every week is a perfect example of steady and easily achievable progress.

Alternatively, you can increase the number of repetitions, and again end up with a higher volume than the previous week.

It is important to maintain good technique, despite the increased weight, to make sure you are actually progressing, and not just making the exercise itself easier.

However, for isolation work such as exercises targeting smaller muscles with either machines or dumbbells is impossible to increase the weight so often.

This is why the best option for progress here is to increase the number of repetitions performed, as well as focus on the technique.

You have to make sure you are not compromising your technique on isolation work by using help from your whole body such as inertia.


Progressively increasing the total amount of volume performed for each muscle group is the main driver for strength and aesthetics gains.

9. You have to regularly deload volume

Training at regular volume and intensity for prolonged periods of time might lead to an accumulation of stress.

Studies show that such accumulation due to training results in a higher incidence of injuries and infections like colds (22).

This does not mean we should avoid training entirely. Instead, we can reduce the volume and focus on technique and recovery.

That is why it is important to regularly reduce your training volume to just 1-2 sets of 5-6 reps per muscle group and use a lighter weight (such that you normally can do 12-20 reps with).

It is a good idea to perform such deloads every week, prior to your menstrual cycle, as your hormones during that time are low and you have lower physical capacity anyway.

As the next menstrual cycle begins, during the first few days when the bleeding is more intensive, if there are abdominal pain and cramping, training should be avoided.

Afterward, studies show that during the following two-three weeks of the new menstrual cycle it is most optimal to train more intensively again (2324).


Deloads should be part of every training program, in order to prevent injuries and plateaus.

10. Supersets are great for saving time

The concept of supersets is more common amongst intermediate to advanced lifters.

It is a technique, where you pair the sets of two different exercises together, performing them in one, longer set.

After each set consisting of both exercises, there is usually a normal rest period.

Supersets can be performed by using exercises targeting the same muscle group, or targeting different muscle groups.

A study showed that pairing a compound exercise with an isolation exercise for the same muscle resulted in more muscle activation, but also more muscle damage (25).

This is why it is better to combine two completely different exercises.

When pairing 2 different muscle groups, you might benefit from the longer rest periods per group, since the 1st muscle will rest while you train the 2nd.

A study showed that longer rest periods enhance muscle growth and endurance (26).

Supersets also reduce the total amount of time spent in the gym, as you are using a single rest period for both muscle groups.

Furthermore, supersets might be especially suitable for women, as scientific research shows that ladies fatigue slower than men during isometric muscle contractions (27). 

This might be due to better neuromuscular performance.

That resistance to fatigue allows women to train with longer sessions than men, shorter rest periods, and higher weekly frequency. 


Combining two different exercises in a superset can help you save time, as well as add variability in your routine. 

11. It is more likely that you are overreaching than overtraining

A lot of people are worried about overtraining when it comes to regular workouts and heavy gym sessions.

Overtraining is considered the point at which muscle damage is so severe that the body cannot fully repair it anymore.

In this stage, there are specific characteristics, such as a progressive decrease in your strength levels, increased overall fatigue, increased incidence of colds and other common infections, etc.

However, to reach this stage you need to accumulate significant amounts of chronic fatigue, without any periods of deloading or more rest days.

Science actually shows that you are much more likely to experience overreaching first, than overtraining (28).

Overreaching is a point where your strength has reached a plateau or even decreased a little and you cannot perform as well as before.

At this stage, just a rest of a day or two will help for a full recovery and even overcompensation.

This is even desired by some programs because the overcompensation results in a significant increase in strength and endurance after the rest.


Overtraining is dangerous, but not that easily reachable point in training, where the body can no longer adequately repair that damage done from exercises.

12. Injuries are much less likely compared to other sports

Injury is the risk each of us takes, with every rep and every set that we perform in the gym.

Studies show that compared to most sports, weight training for weight loss and aesthetics have the lowest incidence of injuries (29).

Actually, training with weights reduces the risk of traumas outside of the gym, as it improves not only muscle but also bone mass.

Studies show that resistance training can be a safe and healthy way to reduce the risk of osteoporosis and support bone health (30).

Nevertheless, there are a few different methods, considered by the majority of gym-goers to reduce the chance for injuries.

Such are stretching (aka static stretching), foam rolling, and warm-ups.

However, scientific evidence suggests that most of those methods have little to none impact on reducing the risk of injury.

A meta-analysis of 21 studies showed that foam rolling might be effective to increase flexibility and pain sensations, but it has no effect on reducing the risk of injury or helping recovery (31).

Further evidence suggests that stretching does not reduce significantly the risk of injury either, while again allowing more flexibility (32).

Increasing flexibility and thus the range of motion might even increase the risk for traumas in some cases.

Dynamic stretching – stretching using weights, might be a better option, as it also develops your strength in that new range of motion that increased flexibility allows.

Studies show that adequate warm-up might be the best option in effectively reducing the risk (33).

Again, even here the evidence is mixed. Still, we advise at least 5 minutes of light cardio followed by warming up with lighter weight, before training with heavier loads.


While there is a risk of injuries in every sport, fitness training is considered one of the safest, as well as quite beneficial for bone health.

To sum everything up on strength training for women

Strength training for women is a great option to get stronger, leaner, and healthier.

It supports both your muscle mass and bone mass – two tissues that diminish with age which affects negatively our health and metabolism.

It is important to learn proper technique when you first go to the gym.

Afterward, you should become familiar with the essentials, such as training frequency, volume, intensity, and deloads.

Warning: Don’t Even Think About Strength Training for Women Until You Read These 12 Things Read on to find about 12 advantages and disadvantages of strength training for women that you need to know. #weightlossforwomen #loseweight #resistancetraining #strengthtraining
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