Many women are lost when it comes to what they should do as far as exercise is concerned.  They aren’t looking to bulk up like men, but most of the time they are either looking to lose weight, develop a sleeker body, or just to improve their overall health.

It is important for women to understand that in order to have an effective workout program, they need to do the right types of exercise and they need to have the right mindset.  Here are 5 of the most effective exercise tips for women:

Don’t be afraid to lift weights
Many women think that by lifting weights they are going to get huge, bulky muscles like men.  This is not true. This makes them skip lifting weights altogether or they don’t lift weights that are heavy enough.

Lifting weights will actually give you a leaner and firmer appearance.  You have seen Jennifer Aniston’s arms – they don’t look that way from not doing any strength training.  Men get muscles that are big and bulky because they lift heavy weights and do a lot of repetitions on purpose.

Lifting weights has several benefits including developing strong bones, controlling your weight, and reducing your risk of injury.  Building muscles will also help your body burn more calories and also increase the calories burned after exercise (‘after burn’ effect).

It is also important to make sure that you are lifting a weight that is right for your goals.  You don’t want to lift one that is too heavy or too light.  According to NASM, if your goal is either body fat reduction, increased lean body mass or general performance, you should lift a weight that is 70-75% of your 1 repetition maximum (the maximum amount that you can lift and do one repetition of an exercise) and do 2 sets of 10-12 reps.

Be consistent
It is so easy to make excuses not to work out.  Consistency is the key to success.  You have probably heard that before.  When you start a workout regimen, you need to make it a part of your daily plan, and not just something that you will fit into your schedule when you have time.

Otherwise, how do you expect to get results?  You aren’t going to get the body you want by sitting in front of the TV eating pizza.  If you say you are going to work out 5 days per week, you should make that a goal.  You should do whatever you need to do in order to achieve that goal.  You may need to write it in your day planner or maybe you need find a weight loss buddy so you can motivate each other.

If you are tired and just want to go home and sit on the couch after a long day at work, try working out in the morning before work.  You may actually find that it wakes you up and gives you more energy throughout the day.  You should do whatever you need to do to ensure that you will stick to your workout regimen.

Follow an integrated training program
As stated above, you should lift weights as part of a workout regimen, but it is important to also include:

Flexibility training – this will help you achieve your goals without getting injured, and is used in the warm up and cool down parts of a workout.  Flexibility training includes using the foam roller, doing static stretches, and dynamic stretches.

Cardiorespiratory training – this is used in the warm up, cool down, and is the cardio portion of your workout, whether you choose to walk, run, swim, bike, etc.

Core training – this helps to develop the muscles around the center of the body, including the abdominal and lower back muscles, which will help to properly stabilize the body and make sure the muscles are balanced.  Core exercises can include anything from the plank, the basic crunch, and superman.

Balance training – this is important in all movements, and will help you to stabilize a joint during movement.  It can be done by performing exercises using one leg or by using pieces of equipment such as Dyna Discs, Airex pads, and stability balls.

Once you have proper core strength and balance, you may want to add reactive training, and speed, agility and quickness training as another part of your integrated training program.

This will give you a complete workout, and offers several benefits including improving cardiorespiratory efficiency, increasing your metabolism, increasing bone density, decreasing body fat, increasing muscle, and will improve your strength, power, endurance, flexibility, speed, agility, and balance.  If you are unsure what exercises to include in your workout, you may want to see a personal trainer.

Be realistic
You can’t expect that you are going to start your workout routine today, and achieve your goals by next week.  You need to be realistic with your goals.  Otherwise, you are going to get discouraged, and are more likely to give up.  It is best to set small goals that will eventually lead to your ultimate goal.

If your goal is to lose 15 pounds, you can’t expect to lose it all in a month.  Make it a goal to lose 4-8 pounds a month, which is about 1-2 pounds a week.  This has been shown to be most effective in keeping the weight off.

If your goal is to run a half marathon, you need to train for it.  You can’t expect to just be able to do it.  There are many different training programs for that.  Find out when the race is, and start training for that as far in advance as the program states you should.

Vary your routine
If you do the same workout every day, you are not only going to get bored, but your body will get used to the workout, and you will be less likely to get the results you want.  Maybe try doing different forms of cardio.  If you like to run, maybe try doing a long run one day – and then the following day, do an interval run, which includes jogging, alternating with sprinting.  Or, walk one day and run the next.

It is best to keep your body guessing.  And, when you are doing any form of strength training, you need to change that also.  If you are doing the same movements for each muscle group regularly, you need to either try a different exercise, or increase the weight, reps or sets.

You may also want to try circuit training, which is a series of exercises performed one after another with minimal rest.  You can alternate cardio moves with strength moves.  This will keep your heart rate up throughout the entire workout, resulting in a greater amount of calories burned.

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