T Nation

Strength Training for Women


I'm new to these forum but thought this looks like the place to ask =) I have quite a bit of weight to lose, and have a pretty slow metabolism. I'm told by my Dr's/nutritionist and any article I've read online about the importance of strength training for women. Increased metabolism/bone mass/improved glucose control/muscle burns more fat etc etc.

My question is am I wasting time doing strength training for the small amount of time it takes a day to do it, and should be doing cardio instead? I will be joining a gym shortly for my cardio, but should I do both or do extra cardio in lieu of the strength training?



Hi Salmissra, welcome!

Definitely do both. Building muscle will go a long way in increasing your metabolism and making you healthier. I highly recommend reading the logs in this section for how to build strength.


That's what I thought. I have a very well intentioned friend. He's been working out in the gym for the past 2 months and has put on 15lbs. He's doing amazing but he's convinced I should not waste my time with strength training.

That it is an inefficient and ineffective waste of my time and I should put that into cardio. I tried to point out all the positive points for women who strength train, increasing metabolism is my main one as I seem to have a slow pokey one.

I tried to explain it takes very little time in the day to do it however...he still says its a waste of time.

Thanks for the input =)


No offense, but don't listen to your friend - he doesn't know what he's talking about. Read the logs of the women on here. Ideally, you should combine the two if fat reduction is your goal. Strength training can do so much for your health, both physical and mental. There is nothing like the kick ass feeling of lifting heavy weight and pushing yourself harder than you ever have. I don't do it for the physical benefits anymore although that is the reason I started. I do it for the mental rush now.


Women lift and train the same way as men do. To think otherwise is chauvinistic.

Tell your friend that iron knows no gender.


that should pretty much end the discussion there.

When you do lift weights, go hard. If you don't, you will be wasting your time.


I myself am pretty new at lifting myself...just been doing it consistently for a few months. I am concentrating on strength before I worry about losing fat. I am incidentally losing some fat anyway, not enough, but it is a start.

What I have noticed is that even though I actually weigh a few more pounds than I did a few months ago, my clothes fit much looser. This is because my body composition is changing. What is the point of losing the fat if everything else is completely saggin'? Of course that is inevitable with age, etc, but I have to say, my "girls" have gained a bit of altitude, and my butt is getting a nice round shape as well.

I am confident that when I actually get around to seriously shedding the fat, the lifting will all be totally worth it. Besides, it is much more fun than cardio.


I lost 45 lbs in about 6 months when I started weight training. I did weights 3-4x a week and cardio for 30 mins 5 days a week. Don't cut out the weights, it's much more fun then cardio anyways.


Hi! I want all the benefits that I stated, can I do this without getting big muscular arms? I'd like to start now to help tone things up as I lose the weight. I think maybe he is thinking I will end up with huge weightlifter arms, when I really just want to help with the weight loss/metabolism/toning/all the other benefits Dr's and trainers list from the strength training.

Thanks for all the advice ladies!


Even though I am pretty new, I am confident that without seriously trying (i.e. taking drugs/steroids or training really really seriously) you will not end up with huge weightlifter arms. There are beautiful, shapely, feminine women on this very forum who can lift some serious weight. Take a look at some of the pictures!


You don't have the testosterone in your body to have huge arms. Plus the work and dedication is would take to get to what I think you are imagining... let's just say you are not going to wake up one day with 15 inch arms of solid muscle...

I think most of us in this forum have pictures on our thread or on out profile, none of us have huge arms or look manish in the least.


Don't let people talk you out of lifting heavy weights. The people in my life were/are constantly telling me that by lifting, I am barking up the wrong tree. They say I'm not going to lose weight that way even though I never said I wanted to lose weight! People assume that is the only reason why people go to the gym. I like the feeling of lifting (somewhat) heavy.


I think what a lot of beginners miss is that huge arms will not just sneak up on you after a few times at the gym. Especially if you have some fat to lose, it will take concentrated work day after day to get buff looking arms. In practice what happens is you don't lose much weight or grow huge, but people keep asking you if you have because you look so good! Good luck!

P.S. ( I really like my arms now, they get me a lot of compliments :slight_smile: )


I have relatively huge arms, but I've worked my ass off for them. Like Arachne said, they won't sneak up on you! You won't accidentally become a world class sprinter when you start jogging regularly...it takes time, talent, and dedication!

If you only do cardio, you will end up smaller, but still look soft and undefined. If you do cardio and weights, you will end up smaller and look fit.


Its funny, in a typical gym just about every woman is thinking:
"I hope I don't get too big too quickly".

Just about every man is thinking:
"I wish I could get big more quickly".

What is wrong with this picture?

As a woman, you won't get "big weightlifter arms" unless you are taking drugs. It certainly won't happen until after years and years of extremely hard training. You can always stop before that happens.


What are you talking about? I'm totally jacked. Didn't you see my legs on Saturday?


Yeah I figured as much. He sees all these "hot" women at the gym only doing cardio and no weights so he thinks that is the only way to go I guess. Even though they could be doing weights at home or when he isn't there rolls eyes =D


More reasons:
-Like PMPM said, if you just do cardio you will look smaller but with your clothes off, it won't be a pretty sight. I had a big ass, hips and legs and when I lost all that fat if I just did cardio I would have a bunch of extra flesh. I'm pretty certain building muscle on my legs and ass has allowed things to get tight again, even if by just being bigger under my skin and replacing much of my fat with muscle.

-but the bggest reason IMO is progression. I have no idea how anyone in their right mind could tolerate a lifetime of doing cardio on machines. To me that is hell! But if you lift, you get stronger. You set goals and you meet them. You see muscles form and you feel them where you didn't before. Not massive ones mind you, but you start to get a firmness in the hips that you didn't have before, your forearms are harder etc. And then you see your strength go up and your lifts get better and better and before you know it, you are lifting weights that you didn't think you could ever! And it's you!

But on a machine, it's just putting in time. You just want to get it over with. In the long run, I don't think that is a maintainable way to stay fit because it is so much of a chore people wind up just using it to get 'caught up' when what is th eonly thing that works is a life long lifestyle change. This is what you do now.

If you cycle, swim, run or hike for cardio that's a bit different IMO. Those are activities that also work well with goals, progression and enjoying and being driven by visible improvement in performance.

So with that said, finding a cardio activity that isn't so tedious and allows for better progress definately helps. But if you are able to put on some music and zone out while jumping rope or using machine for ten minutes after weights that's good too.


Read this: stronglifts.com
and this: stumptuous.com

Feel free to tell us how you are progressing. Good luck!


And what's wrong with big weightlifter arms anyway?

Other than finding blouses and jackets to fit them, that is.