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A Beginner Weight-Training Routine for Women (or anyone)

I  interviewed personal trainer/fitness competitor/bodybuilder/English teacher extraordinaire Anne Kartun in this post a few days ago. Here are a few of her pointers on building a weight training routine for beginners:

Beginners should stick to machines as much as possible until strength has been improved and the “mind/muscle” connection has been learned. (Machines control the movement and range of motion for the exerciser making them safer until one learns the proper feel of an exercise).  Free weights offer more “bang for your buck” because an exerciser must use the stabilizing and neutralizing muscles to control movement, along with the targeted muscle group, thereby causing more muscle to be recruited and developed).

For someone with a little more experience I would suggest a full body circuit training routine. Something like this 3 to 4 days a week:

  • Do 2 or 3 circuits (rounds of the same exercises) depending on your fitness schedule. Try to rest as little as possible between exercises.  This will keep your heart rate up and give you a good cardio workout at the same time, saving you time in the gym.
  • Do 12 – 15 repetitions at a weight that allows you to complete that number of reps but causes you near failure by that number.  In other words, if you can easily keep going after 12 or 15 reps, the weight is too light to make a difference.

Suggested exercises:

5 minute warm-up on bike, treadmill or eliptical


  • Leg press
  • lying leg curls


  • incline press
  • Machine flyes


  • seated military press (overhead press)
  • alternating side and front laterals (with dumbbells)


  • bicep cable curls with pronated grip
  • Tricep press down cable machine


  • crunches (until failure)
  • hip raises (until failure)

5 minute cool down and stretching of each muscle group.

On the days you are not weight lifting do 20 minutes of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) on the cardio equipment of your choice, or even while out for a run.  It looks like this:

  • 5 min. warm up. (very easy pace)
  • 90 seconds comfortable pace
  • 30 seconds AS HARD/FAST AS YOU CAN! Push yourself!
  • 90 second comfortable pace
  • repeat for 20 minutes and finish with a 5 minute cool down at very easy pace.

FYI (this is Richie speaking): I’m a huge fan of HIIT. There is so much room for variety (run hills, trails, bike, jump rope, run stairs). You hit it hard and then you’re done in 30 minutes or less (no need to slog it out for an hour on the treadmill or elliptical), and you get a nice residual boost to your metabolism, much the same as you get when you weight-train. It’s an efficient use of time.

I’m also a big fan of total body training, as I reported in this post, mainly due to time constraints and the fact that it forced me to train smarter (not to mention with better results).

Thanks again Anne, for sharing your knowledge and experience with weight training. You can visit Anne at her bodyspace page.
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