Choose the weights that will help you target specific areas on your body.
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Choosing the optimal hand weights for you as a woman can be challenging, but it is essential to reaching your fitness goals and reducing unwanted side effects of your exercise routine. Weight training provides women with multiple health benefits including reduced weight, improved metabolism, increased strength and reduced risk of osteoporosis. Understanding how to structure your workout regimen will guide you to reaching your fitness goals.
Low Weights with High Repetitions
Traditionally, women tend to use lower weights than men. The reasoning behind this is to build long, toned, lean muscle fibers, which help to reduce your overall girth. However, because doing fewer than 15 repetitions of an exercise builds about the same amount of muscle mass whether you use large or small weights, you can opt for a general physical preparedness approach. Use your lighter weights for a total of five minutes straight of the same exercise. This will ramp up your heart rate and help you to achieve a lean, toned appearance.
Choose a Heavier Weight for Different Results
However, women can achieve impressive benefits from using a higher weight with lower repetitions. A study in the April 2002 "Medicine and Science of Sports and Exercise" showed that women using larger weights for fewer repetitions burned more calories during the workout and throughout the day. And another article from the 2010 version of the journal found that post-menopausal women who used heavy resistance training three times per week over six years had lost more weight and fat than those who didn't. This evidence suggests that using heavier weights can offer long-term health benefits associated with reduced fat and increased metabolism.
The Bottom Line
The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends that women add weight training to their workout regimen at least two times per week. The ACSM adds that 12 to 15 repetitions are optimal and you should select a weight that allows you to complete this many repetitions without a rest. However, if you are not able to maintain proper form, then reduce your weight and work your way up to a higher weight over time. Using these guidelines, select the amount of weight you want to use in your routine.
Considerations of Diet
One of the most impactful differences between men and women in weight training and toning is the levels of testosterone versus estrogen. Because of the greater amounts of estrogen, women are less likely to bulk up, and they require a significant increase in protein and calorie intake for significant gains in muscle mass. However, to tone and slim your physique, control the calories, fat and sodium in your diet as you add weight training to your routine.