menu close menu

6 Tips for Women Training with Weights

August 1, 2013

Tip #1: Shorten the rest period. Women tend to have greater muscular endurance than men. If a man and a woman perform exactly the same program, it would probably be necessary for the woman to decrease her rest time by 30-40 percent for the workout to do her any good. Women recuperate much faster from a maximal effort than men do; therefore you can still gain strength with a shorter rest period.

Tip #2. Perform more sets. Because women can use shorter rest periods between sets, you have more time to perform additional sets. Often times women can do almost twice as many sets as men on the same type of program!

Tip #3. Use moderate- to-high rep ranges. Using percentages of 1RMs (repetition maximums) doesn’t work with most women. If a woman can dumbbell press 20 pounds for 15 reps, it doesn’t mean she can DB press 30 pounds for 6 reps. Women at a beginning level can be uncomfortable with a lower rep range and may not be able to do even 1 rep. Stay in the moderate to high-rep ranges until gaining more confidence and strength.

Tip #4. Use small, incremental weight increases. Typically I give a woman say 20 pounds for a DB press and she does 15 reps easily. The next set, if I give her 25 pounds, she can barely do 5. This is why it’s a good idea to use small increments when increasing the weight; a small increase won’t overwhelm body or mind. If the increase is only 1 pound, that’s a lot less intimidating than 5. By the time you get to the last set you most likely will be able to do the 25 pounds, but it just takes you a little longer to get there.

Tip #5. Do whole-body workouts instead of splits. Women tend to prefer total-body fatigue as opposed to localized fatigue. Because most women want fat loss, whole-body workouts are great to help achieve that goal. Most women would not benefit as such from doing an arms-only day.

Tip #6. Stay on the same program a little longer, especially if technique is an issue. The typical recommendation is to do a workout four to six times before changing, but with some women, it’s OK to stay on a program a little longer. Remember that you are increasing the weight a little more slowly than men typically would, so by the time the sixth workout rolls around, you are probably nowhere near to your max.

These tips are for women who have low strength levels or little weight training experience. In contrast, women who have an athletic background and above-average strength will excel on the same training protocols as men.