I’m a 23-year-old female and I just started working out because I need to lose 20 pounds. I have been doing mainly cardio exercises for my workouts like jogging and walking but I really want to start working out with weights. A lot of my friends have started lifting and they look great but I just want to make sure that if I start weight training I won’t get all huge and bulky. I want to lose fat and get a lean, tight and athletic body. What type of weight lifting workout do you recommend?
I can completely understand your concern about the possibility of packing on too much muscle mass when starting a resistance training program. This is a common concern among many women since the last thing they want to do is get huge and lose the essence of femininity in a female physique that makes a woman sexy.
Don’t worry about this happening since weight training will not make you huge and bulky. Females only have about 10% of the levels of testosterone that men have so it’s impossible to gain a significant amount of lean muscle tissue. Testosterone is the main muscle building hormone that builds up muscle and it’s the key hormone your body needs for overall muscle growth. Actually, most men who start a weight training program have a very hard time gaining a significant amount of muscle mass. Go into any gym and you will see the majority of the men in there working out who are not overly muscular and this is due to basic hormone levels. If these guys are lifting super heavy and not gaining tons of muscle, it’s not going to happen to you when you start lifting weights.
The core of your weight training program should consist of multi-joint exercises that really tax your body and provide the needed stimulus to really push your muscles to work hard. You might see a lot of girls in the gym who are doing bicep curls with 2 pound weights or tricep kickbacks. Heck, you might even see a few guys doing them also! You do not want to emulate them whatsoever.
If you follow this type of workout, you will not see the results you are looking for. Don’t be afraid to push some serious weight and perform movements that you see the guys doing like barbell squats and bench press. Squats are the king of all leg movements and it’s the absolute best exercise you can do to build sexy athletic thighs and a tighter, fuller butt. Have you ever seen the incredible legs on track and field athletes? The female sprinters have incredible physiques that are strong and athletic but still sexy.
I recommend starting your weight training program with 3 days per week of weight lifting and 4-5 days of cardio if you really want to burn body fat and attain a lean, athletic physique. Start doing weights on Monday, Wednesday and Friday to allow your body to fully recover after each workout. Divide each workout into separate muscle groups and limit each workout to 45-60 minutes for the best results. You can set up your weekly weight lifting workouts like this:
- Monday: Chest and Back
- Wednesday: Legs
- Friday: Shoulders and Arms
If you want to add cardiovascular exercise to your workout plan, you should always perform weight training before any cardio since you want to use up all your carbohydrates first to fuel your body through intense weight lifting sessions and then tap into your fat reserves once you start into your cardio routine at the end. If you do cardio before weights, you will burn up carbs first and it will take at least 30 minutes to start tapping into your body fat reserves, so make sure to train smart to get the most out of your muscle building and fat burning fitness plan.
For your weight workouts, focus on a repetition range of 12-15 reps for each set and choose a weight that really forces you to work hard. Don’t be scared to grab those heavy dumbbells and get after it. However, always make sure to stay safe and use proper exercise technique at all times. Along with following a weight training and cardio plan, you also need to fuel your body with the best nutrient dense foods to provide the right macronutrients throughout the day. Read our Nutrition 101 article to learn how many grams of protein you need each day along with a huge list of quality foods to include in your nutrition plan to reach your ultimate physique goals!