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Strength building plan for women?

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  • Strength building plan for women?

    Hi everyone,

    I'm in decent shape but seem to have a hard time--harder than most women my age (20)--building muscle and making strength gains. I started really lifting (beyond the light dumbbells Shape Magazine was telling me to lift) about a year ago, and even though I'm proud of my progress, it isn't as much as I would like. I'm looking into getting the cheapest CrossFit membership available, which would mean going about once a week. Beyond that, does anyone have any suggestions for a strength training program I should follow? I've recently found Simple Fit and may try doing that, but I'd appreciate any other suggestions. Or, any female-specific tips for getting stronger? I should mention that at present I'm trying to lower my BF% a bit as well, so that may complicate things. Thanks!

  • #2
    I'm personally fond of bodyweight exercises. You are your own gym and convict conditioning are both really good resources. Also look up Al Kavadlo – We're Working Out! | We're Working Out! for video tutorials and articles. I personally would think twice about Crossfit if you are only going to be able to go once a week. I would be concerned that the risk of injury is to high. Part of injury prevention would be getting your body used to the high level of work, and I'm not sure once a week is enough. But ultimately only you know what your body can handle.

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    • #3
      Two GREAT books for bodyweight training. They are centered around combat athletes but benefit anyone. They are "Never Gymless" and "The Ultimate Guide to Warrior Fitness." Both are authored by Ross Enamit(?) and have a ton of great information and workout plans.

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      • #4
        You don't really say what you are currently doing. What is your strength plan?

        If you want to lift weights, try Stronglifts, Starting Strength, or New Rules of Lifting for Women.

        My wife did Stronglifts 5x5 for a while with me, but got kinda frustrated with her lack of progress. She just couldn't do the +5lbs every time, and I didn't have the fractional plates yet. When she went back to school she started doing New Rules of Lifting for Women, but I'm not really sure how that is going. Other women around here are doing okay on Starting Strength from what I hear.

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        • #5
          I've been doing P90X for more than a year now, and I too am happy with my progress, but wish it were better. My husband, though, says that he's never seen me have so much muscle. Having said that, I had a lot of progress years ago with Body for Life. It's a very simple program, maybe check that out? Forget about their diet though. And just make sure you're eating enough protein. I've been toying with the idea of joining my local crossfit gym too. If you do, let me know if you like it.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by jfreaksho View Post
            You don't really say what you are currently doing. What is your strength plan?

            If you want to lift weights, try Stronglifts, Starting Strength, or New Rules of Lifting for Women.

            My wife did Stronglifts 5x5 for a while with me, but got kinda frustrated with her lack of progress. She just couldn't do the +5lbs every time, and I didn't have the fractional plates yet. When she went back to school she started doing New Rules of Lifting for Women, but I'm not really sure how that is going. Other women around here are doing okay on Starting Strength from what I hear.
            +1 for SS or NRLW, BTW for the female that lifts with me I'll have her alternate between 3x5 and 3x3 (per week). Seems to get her through the smaller weight plate jumps pretty well.
            "Go For Broke"
            Fat Kine-230/24% @ 6'2"
            Small Kine-168/9%
            Now- 200/8%
            Goal- 210/6%

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            • #7
              I've had the best luck alternating programs every two to three months. I stick with low rep, heavy weights for a few months than switch to high rep, lighter weights. For me, Wendler's 5/3/1 program guarantees that I make sure, steady progress. I've done Crossfit and don't think that once a week is a great choice. Beyond that, clean eating and adequate protein should help.

              Good Luck.

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              • #8
                I'm doing Starting Strength but this is how I do it.

                2x a week, not 3
                1.25, 2.5 or 5lbs a week added to the bar, not 5 or 10lbs.
                Upper body work-weights are 5 sets of 3. Lower body is 3 sets of 5.
                Workout A: Squat, bench, random shit
                Workout B: Squat, press, deadlift

                Eat for recovery. LOTS of meat, potatoes and veggies.
                Last edited by sbhikes; 02-09-2013, 05:41 PM. Reason: added set/rep scheme
                Female, 5'3", 50, Max squat: 202.5lbs. Max deadlift: 225 x 3.

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                • #9
                  Thanks for the suggestions everyone! I like the idea of the bodyweight programs, and I'm thinking about You Are Your Own Gym or Al Kavadlo's book. I just downloaded the YAYOG app, and I'm excited to try it out. I had a free Crossfit intro class today at a box near me that opened not too long ago, and I emailed the director about taking the Fundamentals class (after which I would probably start going regularly). I would like to go more than once a week, but it's just too expensive. I am a college student and work at my school's gym, so I have a free membership there. My hope is that if I do decide to go only once a week, after I know what I'm doing I can do some of the WOD's at the gym.

                  Someone asked what my current strength routine is. I lift three times a week, sometimes maybe four. I usually do squats or deadlifts rotated with an upper body and / or ab exercise, and then mix in some others at the end. Sometimes I'll pick four or five exercises (mostly full-body, some slower/harder and some quicker and more aerobically challenging) to make a circuit that I do somewhere between six and eight times. If the Olympic platforms are taken, I like to do an upper body routine in which I pick four or five exercises (push/pull) and do three or four sets of each alternated with jump squats or jumping lunges. I weigh 142 pounds, and I can currently squat 100, deadlift 130, and bench only about 50

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                  • #10
                    same me, stick with low rep, heavy weights for a few months than switch to high rep,thanks for your sharing

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by nyhnqxam24
                      New Rules of Lifting for Women.
                      Is that a link you posted or something? Because I can't read it.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by 14emom View Post
                        Is that a link you posted or something? Because I can't read it.
                        It's a book/workout plan. I did the whole program a while ago and it helped me gain 11lbs of lean mass (I'd had no lifting experience before then, so it was beginner's muscle - but that's still good progress!) My only issue was that the workouts took me like 2 hours, and there are so many alternating sets that it seems to go on forever. It was very effective for building muscle, though.

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                        • #13
                          I've just started NRLW and finding it v good

                          NROL for Women The New Rules of Lifting


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                          • #14
                            Ladies, anyone have any specific thoughts on Starting Strength vs. New Rules? From what I can tell, Starting Strength is good for getting a strong foundation in traditional barbell training, whereas NRLW is more of a particular methodology geared toward women.

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                            • #15
                              I started seriously lifting with Body for Life, but I have found that what I hate about lifting is the time it takes, so I don't do it as often as I should, but, then from what I am reading, you shouldn't have to do it more that a couple of times a week. DH is the proof of that. At 51 and after two cancer surgeries, the last one in May was major abdominal surgery, in the last year and a half and he is cut and his arms are as big as I have ever seen them. He works out twice a week usually and sometimes only once a week depending on how he feels. He is making more gains now than he did when he lifted religiously three or four times a week.

                              A couple of weeks ago, I ran into a possible answer to my problem. I found Tabata. I have been working out twice a week for the last two weeks using the Tabata method with body weight exercises and I have been as sore as I ever was doing a long lifting workout. Yesterday I cranked out a total of 25 push-ups, 15 assisted pull-ups, 50 squats and 40 kettle ball swings in four minutes and each one of those was more than I was able to do in a longer workout a month ago.

                              You should also know that I also do a couple of hours of Tai Chi each week along with Yoga stretches.

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