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It's not a myth—muscle burns more calories than fat. For this reason, among others, many women desire to add more lean muscle to their bodies. But where do you begin?
According to the American College of Sports Medicine, the minimum recommendation for strength training is twice a week. You're going to need more specifics than that, though. You're going to need a game plan for your strength training goals.
1. Seek Better Balance
Balance the time you spend on cardio machines and the time you spend lifting weights. Women often resort to machines in hopes of staying lean, but the real long-term winners will be those who find the right balance.
Cardio exercises burn carbohydrates, fats and proteins—in that order. Since muscle is made up of protein, too much cardio will reverse any muscle gains you've developed. Try limiting your cardio to only high-intensity interval training (HIIT) cardio, which is six times better at burning fat than steady-state cardio, and is less likely to eat into muscle reserves.
2. Pay Attention to Workout Order
Many women go in to a gym without a plan. They pump out a few sets of lightweight reps on whatever machines are open or look the least intimidating.
What these women typically don't understand, however, is that the sequence of their exercises matters—a lot.
As a general guideline, work your muscles from large to small when performing full-body workouts. Start with your glutes, quadriceps and hamstrings, as they make up 60 percent of your muscle mass. Next, work your chest or back, followed by shoulders, biceps and triceps.
It's also recommended to start with compound movements (exercises that work more than one muscle group at a time) before isolation exercises. For example, do lunges before hamstring curls, deadlifts before lying leg raises, or pull-ups before planks.
3. Variety is the Spice of Lift
Whether it's the number of reps, the amount of weight used, or the workout order, it helps to add variety to your workout scheme. Your body reacts to the stress of exercise, and when it encounters new stresses (like lifting less for more reps or lifting more for fewer reps), it responds with shock, followed by adaptation.
The trick is to not let your body adapt for too long (weeks or months at a time), or else your muscle gains will often plateau. To avoid that, you'll want to change things up to keep your body guessing.
4. Shorten Rest Periods
To make sure you can still get that cardio burn, try to shorten your rest periods. Don't be the girl texting for five minutes between each set.
To incorporate cardio into your strength training routine, aim for 15 to 30 seconds of rest between sets. If you're combining moves into a superset, aim for little to no rest between exercises. If you're performing a circuit, an ideal rest time between each cycle is 45 to 60 seconds.
5. Try Splitting Up Body Parts
Sometimes, especially for beginners, it's beneficial to stay away from full-body workouts. If you work your entire body at a low intensity every workout, you won't build as much fat-fighting muscle. If you work your whole body at a high intensity, you can burn out and get injured.
To switch things up, try splitting your workouts into specific days for specific body parts. For example, try a day for glutes, quads and hamstrings, a day for back and chest, and a day for shoulders and arms. Add core workouts to one or two of those training days.
6. Rest Days
Muscles need a few things to grow after they've been trained: a good balance of vitamins and macronutrients, and rest. Not allowing adequate recovery time for muscles and joints can result in overtraining and injuries.
On the contrary, following a workout regimen that allows for rest days—whether it's resting your entire body or specific muscle groups—often yields the best results. At least one day of rest for each body part is recommended. If you're doing a high-intensity day, you may want to give those body parts two to three days of rest.
This article was originally published at https://www.active.com/fitness/articles/6-strength-training-tips-for-women?page=2 by Cat Perry